An undertaker who hasn't had any 'customers' in a long time is forced the pay one year's back-rent. To get money he starts to kill people in order to get new clients.
Vincent Price ... Waldo Trumbull
Peter Lorre ... Felix Gillie
Boris Karloff ... Amos Hinchley
Joyce Jameson ... Amaryllis Trumbull
Joe E. Brown ... Cemetery Keeper
Beverly Powers ... Mrs. Phipps (as Beverly Hills)
Basil Rathbone ... John F. Black, Esq.
Alan DeWitt ... Black's Servant
Buddy Mason ... Mr. Phipps
Douglas Williams ... Doctor
Linda Rogers ... Phipps' Maid
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Runtime: 84 mins
Codecs: DivX 5 / MP3
French born Jacques Tourneur, is the director behind stylish horror-classics like "Cat People", "I walked with a zombie" and "Night of the demon"! He made "The comedy of terrors" 20 years after "Cat People", and shows a director with great sense of comedic timing! The cast is wonderful, with a devilishly funny Vincent Price, in maybe a career best, as the drunken scrupulous undertaker! Boris Karlof is great fun as his aging father in law, and Peter Lorre equally funny as Prices partner! Also starring is the wonderful Basil Rathbone as the rich landlord who never dies, and Joyce Jameson as the undertakers neglected wife.
This is maybe the greatest gothic comedy ever! Perfect casting, directing, cinematogrophy and editing! A great classic, and a must see!!!
I just couldn't resist a film that boasts Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre all together, all in one film! Their chemistry is amazing, and they all come off as seasoned actors who are just having a really good time. Price and Lorre are the perfect duo of undertakers in search of their next job. Price consistently insults, threatens and demeans Lorre (and everyone else-he is so delightfully despicable!)
Peter Lorre, who I consider to be a neglected comic genius in his own right, plays the perfect bumbling and lovable assistant. The scenes between him and Joyce Jameson (an argument for hearing protectors if ever there was one) are beautiful and absurd in their ingenuousness, as if the 60 year old Peter Lorre was but a smitten schoolboy mooning over a damsel.
The scenes at the dinner table are perfect in their comic timing, the decrepit Boris Karloff sitting peacefully unaware of Vincent Price's palpable loathing of him and his daughter, occasionally coming out with gems like "The Egyptians used to pull the brains out through the nose with a hook!" before returning to drinking his milk in a charming and doddering manner.
Basil Rathbone, however, is the hammy fist of the production, so to speak. He plays the inflexible and imperious landlord who owns the establishment out of which the funeral home of Hinchley and Trumbull operates, and he plays it up to the hilt, using every ounce of overacting he saved up from his Shakespearian stage days to render Macbeth like it has never been heard before! This is perhaps Basil Rathbone's finest hour, and you must watch the film to see why. Trust me on this one!
This film is the comic version of "The Bodysnatcher" or "Mania". It's Burke and Hare with a sense of humor.
Vincent Price actually made quite a number of film comedies, such as "Champagne for Caesar". He is actually quite good in using his normal menace and meanness for comic affect. He is Mr. Trumbull, the junior partner (but actually the active partner) of a decaying firm of undertakers. Trumbull has no single redeemable characteristic - he's bossy to his father-in-law partner (Karloff), he's bossy to his wife, he mistreats and bullies Lorre (his employee), and he kills his subjects. Still some of his problems are sympathetic ones - his wife Amarylis sings at the funerals (listen to her warble "He is but sleeping" at Rathbone's funeral service - Price looks beatific as she sings, and when asked why he explains he hopes her vocal chords will snap). The number of good one liners in this film (spread among the leads) is nice. Karloff being unable to deliver a coherent funeral address, because he can't recall who is being buried. Rathbone dying, again and again, reciting Macbeth. Joe E. Brown wishing the corpses in his cemetery a pleasant night's sleep. And Lorre constantly making comments regarding his unpleasant boss. One of the best is when, at Rathbone's funeral, Price is enjoying the sight of the large amount of money he's being paid for the funeral of Rathbone (whom he hated as a tightwad and landlord). Lorre, noting the arrival of most of the mourners, goes inside to tell Price, who basically tells him they can just wait. Lorre turns around and leaves, stating quite audibly, "Ungrateful employer." The line is delivered like it comes from some left wing play of the turn of the 20th Century.
It is a funny little movie, and well worth watching.
This delightful horror comedy romp stars horror legends Vincent Price and Peter Lorre as an undertaker and his assistant, who have problems paying the rent due to a lack of customers. However, the only reason work is slow is because people aren't dying. And that's a fact that our hero has no qualms about changing. The undertaker profession is ripe for making a black comedy out of, and this film makes the best use of that. It is true that the film isn't consistently funny, but most of the jokes in the film work; and some of them are downright hilarious. Aside from the two legends already mentioned, this film also features a performance from another of horrors greatest stars; Boris Karloff. This isn't the first time these three great stars have worked together, but seeing them on screen will always be a treat for the horror fan and it certainly proves to be in this movie, especially since it's done with a big smile on it's face and its obvious that all concerned had a good time making it.
Vincent Price isn't an actor that I would expect to blend well with straight comedy, as I'm used to seeing him in more macabre outings, but he is really good at it. His delivery of one-liners is faultless, and this performance shows his range as an actor. Peter Lorre has a fantastic screen presence and he's not an actor that you can see and then forget. There's nobody quite like Peter Lorre, and that's what makes him so great. His pathetic persona blends well on screen with Price's amoral and sarcastic one, and the two make an awesome comedy duo. As if this wasn't enough for you, Boris Karloff joins them as Price's father in-law. Karloff doesn't get to do a lot in the film, but he too bodes well with comedy and it's a treat to see him along with another two legends. Also of note is the fact that the film is directed by one of horror's true greats - Jacques Tourneur. This film isn't up there with his atmospheric masterpieces such as 'Cat People' or 'I Walked With a Zombie', but it's a solid film in his oeuvre and is highly recommended.
# Boris Karloff was originally hired to play John F. Black but it soon became clear that his severe arthritis would not permit him to undertake such a strenuous role. Karloff was switched to the part of Mr. Hinchley, and Basil Rathbone was brought in to play Black.