23 October 2014

Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961)
92 min.
Directed by Sidney J. Furie.
With Kieron Moore, Hazel Court, Ian Hunter, Kenneth J. Warren, Gerald Lawson, Fred Johnson, Paul Hardtmuth, Paul Stockman, Andy Alston, Ruth Lee, John Romane.
Doctor Peter Blood (Moore) decides to practice medicine in his hometown, so he returns to the small English village where he grew up.

He's greeted there by his father Robert (Hunter) and a pretty local nurse named Linda (Court) who appears to fancy him from the get go. Indeed, Peter has everything going for him: he's young, handsome and seems to have a bright future ahead of him.

However, Peter has a secret. Using live heart transplants - and aided by the powerful posion curare - he's been experimenting with reviving the dead, bringing recently deceased corpses back to life so they can walk the earth as zombified stiffs stuck in limbo between heaven and earth.

Sound promising? It's not.

This lackluster Brit affair tries its best to channel the Frankenstein legend - it wants to be a contemporary update on Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), if you will - but falls short at nearly every turn.

None of it is outright failure. Director Furie (The Snake Woman) helms the project assuredly. And there's some notably lush on location cinematography courtesy of Stephen Dade.

Also worthy of mention is genre regular Hazel Court (she featured in several AIP/Corman pictures such as Premature Burial and The Masque of the Red Death). Bless her heart, she tries to keep the action afloat but...

Kieron Moore is decidedly uninterested in the proceedings, and it shows. One of the actor's only horror outings, Moore just doesn't have much to give Doctor Blood's Coffin in the way of suspense or menace. And the viewer pays the price with a banal, if competently made, effort.

Surprisingly, there a few flashes of inspiration, courtesy of some unexpected gore. Doctor Blood's gruesome heart transplants feature vividly beating organs, and lotsa dripping red stuff. There's also a brief bit at the climax - with one of Blood's undead zombies going on a rampage - that'll provide some temporary relief from the ensuing ennui.

But ultimately, keep your expectations low. You won't remember much about Blood's Coffin a half hour after viewing.

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