“I don’t think he’s quite dead enough yet to bury.”
A drunken undertaker (Vincent Price) in need of clients bullies his assistant (Peter Lorre) into helping him kill innocent people — but their attempt to murder their strangely resilient landlord (Basil Rathbone) results in unexpectedly challenging consequences. Meanwhile, Lorre harbors a crush on Price’s mistreated wife (Joyce Jameson), whose aged father (Boris Karloff) has no idea Price is trying to slowly poison him.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Basil Rathbone Films
- Black Comedy
- Boris Karloff Films
- Historical Drama
- Jacques Tourneur Films
- Marital Problems
- Peter Lorre Films
- Vincent Price Films
This belabored black “comedy” by director Jacques Tourneur — with a screenplay by Richard Matheson — possesses many loyal fans (see IMDb), but I’m not one of them. There’s simply no fun to be had in watching Price — playing one of his most irredeemably loathsome protagonists — abusing Lorre, Jameson, and Karloff while keeping himself in a perennial state of drunkenness; meanwhile, the screenplay is riddled with clunkers — such as the following exchange (not funny the first time), which is for some reason repeated ad nauseum:
Gillie: Mr. Tremble…
Trumbull (correcting him): Trumbull.
Gillie: I SAID “Tremble”!
A similarly painful gag involving Jameson’s terrible singing voice is milked dry as well. The allure of getting to see so many prime horror icons together onscreen, and/or a respect for Tourneur’s prior classics — such as Cat People (1942) or Night of the Demon (1957) — is clearly what will tempt most film fanatics to check this one out; however, as noted in Time Out’s review, “With credentials of this calibre, the movie could hardly fail, but it comes perilously close”. Be forewarned.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine production values
No; definitely feel free to skip this one, unless your curiosity gets the better of you.