The Comedy of Terrors - 1963

The Comedy of Terrors - Released Jan 22, 1963. Directed by Jacques Tourneur

Farcical tale of a ne'er-do-well under-capitalized undertaker (Vincent Price) and his assistant (Peter Lorre) who are in danger of being evicted by their no-longer-patient landlord (Basil Rathbone). The solution? Eagerly creating new business by helping a few people to die early.

The film itself is a bit too eager to prove it's comedy bona-fides, and while the actors doing comedy seems to always work, the slapstick arrangements from Tourneur (for example the fast-forwarded burial at the beginning with cartoon noises added in) simply falls flat and is too forced.

Within the film is a comedy showcase for these veteran movie actors. Basil Rathbone as a Shakespeare obsessed landlord perhaps the most over the top, a man who reads the Bard's work in bed, gets so worked up he begins stomping about his home in the middle of the night (terrifying Peter Lorre who is secretly hiding in his home) performing a one-man MacBeth with sword in hand. Also a sufferer of catalepsy, Rathbone's dead, and then not-dead, then dead-again performance keeps the undertakers off balance.

Karloff is a senile father of Joyce Jameson who is the frustrated wife of the greedy undertaker who has only insults for her, while Peter Lorre looks on in awe and is 100% behind her dream of being a professional opera singer (Jameson sings in the film and has precision in being appalling). Lorre's reluctant sidekick to Price means being the sympathetic center of the tale while Price starts piling up the bodies, playing a part just as evil as many other roles in other more grim films, but not one this simultaneously goofy and ridiculous.

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