Ring of Terror (1962)

Article 3038 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-1-2009
Posting Date: 12-8-2009
Directed by Clark L. Paylow
Featuring George E. Mather, Austin Green, Esthur Furst
Country: USA

A medical student seems to be afraid of nothing; he even wheels the dead bodies in and out of the autopsy room and throws rattlesnakes out of his girlfriend’s car. However, he may have a secret fear, and the initiation into his fraternity is coming up…

What we have here is one of those movies based on an old urban legend. The trouble with urban legends is that they’re usually tight, compact stories that would be better handled in an anthology format rather than as stand-alone movies. This movie is pretty short, but it still is heavily padded; we have a whole slew of unnecessary characters, an opening and closing segment in which an undertaker tells us the story (with a long, pointless sequence in which he hunts for his cat, promptly steps on its tail when he finds it, and then hunts for it again), subplots about the student’s romantic life, a slew of other fraternity stunts, a beauty contest and a running joke about fat people who eat a lot. The presentation is so static that I felt I had to check the director’s listing on IMDB to see if he had any other movies to his credit. I was quite surprised to see that he had; though this is his only feature film as a director, he did direct several episodes of “Sky King”, worked in other capacities (including assistant/second unit director) on a variety of other movies, including THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN, I BURY THE LIVING, THE CONVERSATON, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, and BOG, as well as a variety of beach party movies. There is a bit of campy fun to be had with this movie, though, especially in an unbelievable autopsy sequence which primarily consists of several students looking like they’re about to throw up. But, for the most part, this movie is dead in the water and couldn’t scare a fly.


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