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A number of swamp land men have died by strangulation and the inhabitants believe that an innocent man they hanged is seeking revenge on all of the male descendants of those responsible for his death. Maria, granddaughter of the guilty ferryman, decides to operate the ferry service. Chris Sanders, a son of one of the men who did the hanging, and Maria fall in love. The "strangler" seizes Chris and Maria offers her life if Chris is spared. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the very, very small number of films produced by PRC that are critically regarded as achieving something approaching B-movie status. Its status was enhanced by it's inclusion in William K. Everson's "Classics of the Horror Film" (1974) in which he praised German director Frank Wisbar's work on the film. See more »
"Strangler of the Swamp" is a very strange little picture from PRC, one of the so-called Poverty Row studios of the '40s; the same studio responsible for such wonders as "The Devil Bat" (1941) and "The Devil Bat's Daughter" (1946). This last film starred Miss America 1941, Rosemary La Planche, in the same year that she appeared in "Strangler." Here, she plays Maria, the granddaughter of a ferry boat operator in one of the most dismal-looking swamps you could ever imagine. Having felt lonely while working in the big city, what could be more natural than her taking over her grandpappy's job when he is killed by the eponymous swamp strangler, the pale-faced spirit of a wrongfully hanged man, eerily played by Charles "Ming the Merciless" Middleton? Whilst pulling this tow-rope swamp barge through its courses, Maria meets hunky Chris Sanders, played by Blake Edwards (yes, THAT Blake Edwards, almost a full decade before he was to begin his glorious career as a director). Anyway, cheaply made and studio bound as "Strangler" is, I suppose the picture does have atmosphere to spare. Shot mostly on darkened sets and with prodigious amounts of swirling ground mist and bullfrog croakings, the film does evoke a creepy bayou feel, and its brief running time (the whole thing barely clocks in under an hour) allows for zero padding. This is basically a minor little "B" picture, to be sure, that does what it sets out to do: tell a weird ghost story with absolutely no frills. The film is hardly ever scary, although there are several shots of Middleton's blank-faced mug that are fairly riveting. La Planche herself is very appealing, strange as her character may be (honestly, who would ever lay down in a pile of grass and swamp muck at night to take a nap?!?), and Edwards fine as the surprisingly UNheroic leading man. The DVD that I just watched features a battered-looking print with no extras, but I suppose we may never see this oddball curiosity look any better. Fans of '40s "B" horror may find the picture sufficiently rewarding to warrant a look; others, I feel, may find it a fairly hard pull.
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