The Oblong Box (1969)

Article #1758 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-6-2006
Posting Date: 6-5-2006
Directed by Gordon Hessler
Featuring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies

An aristocrat keeps his brother locked in an attic after his face is mutilated in a voodoo ritual. An attempt to release the brother from his captivity misfires when he is buried alive, but he is saved when body snatchers exhume him. He then seeks revenge on those that abandoned him to his fate.

Though I like this one better than MURDERS OF THE RUE MORGUE or CRY OF THE BANSHEE, I must admit that (with the exception of his having directed one of the best episodes of “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”) I just don’t enjoy Gordon Hessler’s forays into horror. Outside of the presence of a coffin at one point, this has precious little to do with Poe’s story, though I must admit that the original story is tame even by Poe’s standards. It starts out well enough; the voodoo ceremony is extremely effective, and the early scenes work well enough. Nonetheless, I start having problems as the movie progresses. I find the pace just a little slower than necessary, and the movie really doesn’t make very good use of his cast; in particular, most of Vincent Price’s scenes don’t really give him much to work with from an acting standpoint. I also find the big scenes in the movie singularly disappointing. For example, when a movie features two horror stars such as Price and Christopher Lee, you look forward to any scenes they have together, but the one they have here is too brief to satisfy. Furthermore, our long-awaited chance to see how the brother looks is really a letdown, and the final twist is nothing special. All in all, I find that Hessler’s horror movies lack the sense of fun I get from, say, Roger Corman.


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