24 October 2014

The Body Snatcher (1945)
78 min.
Directed by Robert Wise.
With Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater, Russell Wade, Rita Corday, Sharyn Moffett, Donna Lee, Robert Clarke.
In 19th century Scotland, Dr. MacFarlaine (Daniell) requires a steady supply of fresh human cadavers for his anatomical research, and he depends on grave-robber John Gray (Karloff) to provide him with 'specimens.'

But when the unscrupulous Gray has trouble serving up the legitimately deceased, he simply creates his own 'inventory'...by skulking around Edinburgh and killing off unsuspecting folks whom no one will miss! Based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story, and clearly inspired by the infamous Burke and Hare body-stealing case, this classic 1945 chiller ranks as another don't miss from the Val Lewton team.

As with Cat People (1942) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943), this Val Lewton-produced effort is consummate horrormaking, thanks to an unforgettably sleazy performance from Karloff, lean direction from Wise, and a superbly nuanced turn from Daniell as the conflicted MacFarlaine.

Downside? Lugosi is woefully underused here in a supporting role, but it's a testament to his chemistry with Karloff that the scene between the two of them is one of the film's most powerful.

And that ending is a real killah...

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