The Oblong Box (1969)

Movie Title: The Oblong Box

Year Released: 1969

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 36min

Genre: Horror

Director: Gordon Hessler

Writer: Lawrence Huntington (based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story)

Starring: Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Uta Levka, Sally Geeson, Alister Williamson, Peter Arne, Hilary Heath, Maxwell Shaw, Carl Rigg, Harry Baird, Godfrey James, James Mellor, John Barrie, Ivor Dean, Danny Daniels,

Review: Aristocrat Julian Markham (Vincent Price) returns home after a trip to Africa with his brutally mutilated brother Edward (Alister Williamson) and buries him alive. But when a grave-robbing doctor (Christopher Lee) examines the exhumed body of Edward, he is found to still be alive. After donning a crimson hood Edward prepares to exact his revenge on those who trapped him in The Oblong Box.

I was excited to see Vincent Price and Christopher Lee in another horror tale from Edgar Allan Poe, but I have to say that this particular outing was very disappointing. The Oblong Box is kind of a messy production that was lackluster and had me checking my watch several times during its 96 minute runtime.

The story of the two brothers and the result of their voyage is interesting, but the movie slowly reveals characters and several subplots that became rather tedious to sit through. Christopher Lee's doctor's storyline kind of comes out of nowhere and almost completely pauses Price's concern over his tormented brother, not to mention his romance with Elizabeth (Hilary Heath); another unnecessary subplot.

It took a good 45 minutes or so to get the vengeance filled Edward running amok and murdering his betrayers. And even then this picture felt very bland, almost like a TV movie. I when along with The Oblong Box because I love Price and Lee, and truth be told, I wanted to see the face hidden behind that crimson hood, which the movie screws up with day-for-night photography, bad lighting, and even worse editing. I think that's the big flaw here - the editing. There's no tension or artistry like past Poe adaptions from Roger Corman (Pit and the Pendulum (1961) or The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)). Director Gordon Hessler seems ill-equipped to breath life into this tale of the living dead.

This certainly wasn't a classic for either Vincent Price and Christopher Lee, but I enjoy them so much I had to see it. I would skip this one if I were you... it may just save your life... or at least 96 minutes of it from boredom.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Despite Vincent Price and Christopher Lee having top billing, they have only one scene together.


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