Oblong Box, The (1969)

“Tell me — what really did happen in Africa?”

Synopsis:
After being disfigured in an African voodoo ritual, a now-insane man (Alister Williamson)– whose guilt-ridden brother (Vincent Price), hoping to peacefully marry his fiancee (Hilary Dwyer), keeps him locked in the attic — seeks help from a crooked lawyer (Peter Arne) in receiving a potion from a witch-doctor (Harry Baird) that will put him into a death-like coma and allow him to escape. Complications ensue when a scientist (Christopher Lee) studying grave-robbed bodies opens Williamson’s oblong-coffin, and Williamson — wearing a red mask — begins a spree of revenge across the city.

Genres:

Review:
Gordon Hessler directed this Edgar Allan Poe-“inspired” AIP flick, originally slated as a project for Michael Reeves — director of The She-Beast (1966), The Sorcerers (1967), and The Witchfinder General (1968) — before Reeves’ unexpected death at age 25. Unfortunately, everything here seems to have suffered as a result of this shift at the helm: while the film isn’t confusing, and the sets and cinematography are appropriately atmospheric, it never quite coheres or engages; not even Price can resurrect the overall mood. The most refreshing element of the film is Price’s admission about whites wreaking havoc on and taking advantage of the people of Africa, leading to mutual misery.

Note: Price and Lee appear together on-screen near the end, but only for a brief moment, and they don’t exchange dialogue.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Atmospheric cinematography and sets

Must See?
No; feel free to skip this one.

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2 Responses to “Oblong Box, The (1969)”

  1. This is an entertaining little horror film that for much of it’s length works very well. Unfortunately, the villain who’s supposed to be scarred is a disappointment when finally see his visage … he looks like he has a bad case of acne.

    So, all the screaming by folks who see him becomes unintentionally funny. Definitely not a must see film, but it’s entertaining enough. Make sure you see the full 96 minute edit that was restored for the MGM Midnite Movie disc and the Kino Blu-ray if you do see it.

  2. First viewing. Only a once-must for those interested in the AIP / Poe series.

    Overall, I found it reasonably engaging and well-made. It has a bit more… excess… than one will find in Corman’s contributions to the series. (That bar orgy scene is certainly lively if a bit unreal. Is that a typical Saturday night for the place? 😉 )

    The specifics of the curse do come off as a bit… odd. And there’s a sequence or two (or three?) that asks for a suspension of disbelief. But fans of the series should be rather satisfied.

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