Macabre (1958)

MACABRE (1958)
Article #1205 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-2-2004
Posting Date: 11-29-2004
Directed by William Castle
Featuring William Prince, Jim Backus, Christine White

A doctor’s daughter is kidnapped and buried alive, and he has only five hours to find the coffin before she dies.

This movie marked William Castle’s entry into gimmick-drenched horror cinema; the gimmick here is that the audience was insured against death by fright by Lloyds of London for the length of the movie. No one really needed to worry about it actually happening, though; as far as scares and suspense go, this movie doesn’t deliver. The story itself isn’t too bad (even if it doesn’t hold up on close examination), but it’s one that doesn’t automatically generate the necessary suspense, and I’m afraid the movie just fails to keep itself attuned to the right pitch. For one thing, it keeps wandering off into clumsy flashbacks that don’t really advance the story. I can think of two things the movie could have done that would have improved things. One would have been to allow us to meet the Doctor’s daughter previous to her kidnapping; it’s a lot easier to be concerned about the fate of someone you’ve gotten to know rather than one you’ve never met. It also would have been a lot more effective had we been able to hear the actual phone message from the kidnapper rather than having the secretary try to describe it to us second-hand. As it is, this is one of Castle’s less successful movies.

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