Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Comedy of Terrors [American-International Pictures, 1964]

Smack dab in the middle of their lucrative Roger Corman/Edgar Allan Poe series, American International Pictures gathered most of its brilliant collection of horror stars to make -- a comedy!  With a screenplay by Richard Matheson (who had penned FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, and TALES OF TERROR for the company), Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Basil Rathbone made THE COMEDY OF TERRORS. Although Roger Corman is sometimes erroneously credited as director, that job went to Jacques Tourneur, who had given us some genuine, gold-plated classics over the years. His CAT PEOPLE [1942], I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE [1943], and, especially, CURSE OF THE DEMON [1957] continue to inspire new generations of film fans and filmmakers. Musician Les Baxter composed the silent-film-inspired score, and veteran funnyman Joe E. Brown made his final film appearance.  The result is very uneven, but there is so much fun in watching this incredible cast of horror veterans (and good friends) having a wonderful time.  
A German ad for the film

Drunken, unsuccessful undertaker Vincent Price is stopped on the street by his Shakespeare-loving landlord, Basil Rathbone, inquiring about the rent

A behind-the-scenes shot showing comedian Joe E. Brown (as a gravedigger) being throttled by undertakers Peter Lorre and Vincent Price

Price checking for Basil Rathbone's heartbeat 

Rathbone wakes up at the cemetery and startles Joe E. Brown

Vincent wonders why Basil won't stay dead

A great cast! Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff

Price questions the maid of a man he's just killed to drum up business for his funeral parlor

Vincent Price was given a chance to really cut loose in this film

Boris Karloff as Vincent's doddering old father-in-law.  He was supposed to have played Rathbone's part, but the physical demands proved to be too much

Comedian Joyce Jameson had played Peter Lorre's wife in TALES OF TERROR.  Here she played Price's beleaguered spouse

Even the cat was a star (and received billing). Rhubarb (or Orangey, as he was more commonly known) had played opposite some of the greats, including Audrey Hepburn in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S.  Here's his Wikipedia biography

The paperback book adaptation

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