Monday, December 31, 2012

Macabre (1958)

Townsfolk blame a doctor (William Prince) for the death of his wife. They say he was drunk. The dead wife's sister (daughters of the town's richest man) has also died young and the calls for 'oll Doc Barrett to head on out reach fever-pitch. Doc's daughter turns up missing then his secretary receives a strange call saying that she is with the dead and has five hours before she suffocates. The frantic search begins.

Everyone is a suspect. Is the motive revenge? Inheritance? Or ... no, it's one of them two, almost certain. Anyhow, details emerge and new questions are raised. The suspects include the doctor's secretary, his new fiancee, the cop (played all butch by Thurston Howell himself), the undertaker, the baker, the candlestick maker ... the list goes on.

This is William Castle's first gimmick-horror. A $1000 life insurance policy was given to every participant in case they died of a fright (and that does play into the story). I'm sure Lloyd's of London had no problems issuing such a policy as Macabre is almost entirely unscary. The story plays out as a who-done-it (or, more accurately, a who-doin'-it) and falls closer to mystery/thriller than horror, but let's not split hairs.

TMC ran a bio of he man then featured this gem. He finally got to make the kind of movie he wanted to and had to mortgage his house to do so. It was a huge hit. He would go on to make a host of cheesy money-makers that I will eventually see.

So, how does the mystery/thriller work? Well, it does keep you guessing, but in the end it'll leave true mystery fans unsatisfied. For me, I found it well worth the investment in time. AMRU 3.

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