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Strangler of the Swamp
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Reviews & Ratings for
Strangler of the Swamp More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Moody trip into the swamp is good little thriller and technical tour de force

7/10
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
24 November 2006

Some people say this is the best film that PRC ever released, I'm not too sure about that since I have a fond place in my heart for some of their mysteries. I will say that this is probably one of the most unique films they, or any other studio, major or minor, ever released.

The plot is simple. The ghost of a wrongly executed ferryman has returned to the swamp to kill all those who lynched him as well as all of their off spring. Into this mix comes the granddaughter of one ghosts victims, the current ferryman. She takes over the ferry business as the ghost closes in on the man she loves.

Shrouded in dense fog and set primarily on the single swamp set this is more musical poem than regular feature film.Listen to the rhythms of the dialog, especially in the early scenes, their is poetical cadence to them. Likewise there is a similar cadence to the camera work as it travels back and forth across the swamp as if crossing back and forth across the door way between life and death, innocence and guilt. The film reminds me of an opera or oratorio or musical object lesson more than a normal horror film. Its an amazing piece of film making that is probably unique in film history.

This isn't to guild the Lilly. This is a low budget horror/mystery that tells you a neat little story that will keep you entertained. Its tale of love and revenge is what matters here, not the poetical film making and it holds you attention first and foremost (the technical aspects just being window dressing.) If there is any real flaw its the cheapness of the production. The fog does create a mood but it also hides the fact that this swamp is entirely on dry land. The constant back and forth across it is okay for a while but even after 58 minutes you do wish that we could see something else.

Don't get me wrong I do like the film a great deal. Its a good little film that I some how wish was slightly less poverty stricken. Its definitely worth a look if you can come across it.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Welcome to the haunted swamp

8/10
Author: Chris Gaskin from Derby, England
13 September 2005

Strangler of the Swamp was made by low budget studio PRC and is certainly one of their best movies I've seen.

A man who was hanged for a murder he didn't commit returns as a ghost for revenge on the people who accused him. He uses a rope to strangle his victims and after several deaths, including the old man who operates the ferry across the swamp, he disappears. The old man's granddaughter takes over the ferry herself and also falls in love with one of the local men and they decide to get married.

This movie has plenty of foggy atmospheres, which makes it very creepy too.

The cast includes Rosemary La Planche, Blake Edwards and Charles Middleton (Flash Gordon) as the Strangler.

Strangler of the Swamp is a must for old horror fans like myself. Excellent.

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not bad poverty row thriller

5/10
Author: John Seal from Oakland CA
5 May 2002

No, it's not PRC's finest hour (and even though it's listed at 59 minutes, I swear it's closer to 50)--that honour has to go to Edgar Ulmer's Detour. Strangler of the Swamp is a neat little cheapie, though, and it's atmosphere is unlike that of any other Hollywood film, with the exception of Night of the Hunter. Perhaps Charles Laughton caught this at the bottom of the bill one night and tucked his memories away for a decade. It certainly strikes me as being more or a fable than a true horror story, and what little I've read of Frank Wisbar's earlier Ferryboat Maria seems to bear out that interpretation. The film is rife with illogic, starting with the idea that a ferry is needed across a swamp that seems to span no more than a few yards. Villagers try to run away in order to escape the curse of the Strangler, and instead of leaving via the ferry they take a donkey cart on a road that otherwise doesn't figure into the story! Leading lady Rosemary La Planche sleepwalks through her role as the granddaughter of the cursed ferryman, and Blake Edwards is reasonably likeable as the heartthrob whose love heals all wounds. All things considered--not least it's brevity and dreamlike atmosphere--Strangler of the Swamp is essential viewing for anyone interested in second features, Poverty Row cinema, or the influence of German filmmakers on American cinema.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

PRC finally Succeeds!

6/10
Author: docdespicable from Los Angeles, CA
26 June 2006

It's really a pity more people haven't seen this little number from PRC - it has a tight story, good acting, amazing atmosphere, just everything so many of their features lack. The joke was, and in some cases remains, that PRC stood for Pretty Rank Crap (actually Producers Releasing Corporation). They kept Bela Lugosi from going hungry and delivered quite a list of entertainingly awful crud - I mean, they made Monogram look like MGM! Generally considered the studio where name actors went to pick up enough cash to pay off their bar tabs (which explains the presence of otherwise outstanding actors like J. Carroll Naish, John Carradine and George Zucco), by the law of averages, they were bound to hit the mark, once in a great while.

And here, they do. Despite, or perhaps because of the obvious sound-stage set, the film has an atmosphere of unreality, a similar effect attained in "City of the Dead" (1960) by the same means. Both films have an almost Lovecraftian sense of foreboding. The core of the film's success can be attributed to the "Strangler" himself, character actor Charles Middleton, perhaps most known for his turns as Ming the Merciless in the "Flash Gordon" serials and his menace of Laurel & Hardy in several of their shorts and features.

Please understand - "Strangler from the Swamp" is never going to give Hitchcock or the Val Lewton horror pictures a run for their money, but all in all, it is still a very satisfying film.

And yes, that Blake Edwards is THAT Blake Edwards!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful ghost tale that dares to feature a different type of 1940s woman character...

8/10
Author: Mikel3 from U.S.A.
24 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**** Includes Spoilers ****

I've been a horror film fan now for many decades. Just when I think I've seen all the great ones another pops up to surprise me. I had never seen this film before. It was a treat, off the beaten path too...not just the path to the swamp ferry boat either. Here was a horror film made in the 1940s that dared to try something VERY different. The pretty girl is (gulp) fearless for a change and saves the men, including the man she loves, from the monster ! How is that for a twist. This girl was the complete opposite of most women in films of that time, no screaming at her own shadow, no fainting from fright, no tripping over a leaf as she runs. This gal wasn't afraid to live alone in a secluded hut far away from the rest of the villagers. Not only that but the place was on a foggy swamp rumored to be haunted. Heck she even takes naps on the swamp grass outdoors...like a regular 1940s version of Ripley. No snake, gator or ghostly strangler would dare bother this gal. Books on early feminist films should be sure to include this overlooked work.

See this if you are a fan, like me, of those wonderfully atmospheric classic B/W horror films they made only in the 30s and 40s. And be sure to wear your cast iron turtle neck for protection.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

PRC Gets It Right Twice in a Row

7/10
Author: Bucs1960 from West Virginia
13 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

PRC which was the lowest of the low actually struck gold with this moody little thriller. They did the same thing a year earlier with "Detour" which is probably one of the finest low-budget films ever made.

"Strangler" is basically a one set film, filled with mist and shadows, a technique used by most poverty row studios to hide the sets, or lack thereof. But here, it works well. The ghost of Charles Middleton (better known as Ming the Merciless) lurches around the swamp killing those involved in his wrongful execution for murder and generates some sympathy from the viewer. His final victim is to be the daughter of the ferryman.....he concentrates his wrath not only on those directly involved in his fate but their relatives as well.

Rosemary LaPlanche does her usual imitation of someone in a coma that passes for her acting style. She offers herself up to the strangler in order to put a stop to the killing but as a sop to the audience, the strangler sees the goodness of her gesture as a sign that his mission is complete and he returns to the hereafter, somewhat chastened. If Ulmer(who directed "Detour") has directed "Strangler" she would be hanging from the nearest tree and the strangler's job would be done. But who's complaining? It's not the story that is the major attraction but the shrouded sets, lighting and the general moodiness of the piece. It stands, right behind "Detour", as PRC's finest hour

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Here She Pulls, Miss America....

6/10
Author: ferbs54 from United States
9 December 2008

"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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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Foggy chiller dredges deep pools

Author: (michael.e.barrett@worldnet.att.net) from Universal City, TX
21 October 2002

Frank Wisbar is one of the more overlooked directors who came to Hollywood from Nazi Germany. He worked at the Poverty Row studio PRC and went back to Germany after the war. At PRC he made such curiosities as DEVIL BAT'S DAUGHTER and this little item, which actually remakes his own 1936 German film.

It's confined almost entirely to a foggy swamp (with some indoor scenes). The theatrical, atmospheric first act includes a striking scene of three old women standing like statues on the ferry, intoning their dire warnings as it goes back and forth, guided by the ferryman who is responsible for dooming the village. Wisbar evokes Greek mythology (Charon, who ferries people across the Styx; the Three Fates). The camera pans back and forth with the ferry of old people, underlining the stagnation, the fact that no one is going anywhere.

When the young heroine comes into the picture, she seems a breath of fresh air. But with her independent attitude in assuming the job of ferryman (inherited from her dad), she doesn't seem to realize that she too is going nowhere and may be doomed. Another breath of fresh air is the fact that her heroic young fiancee (Blake Edwards) can do nothing to rescue her, but on the contrary she must save him and the rest of the village from "the sins of the fathers." When you place this fable in its original context of Weimar cinema (its preoccupation with sins of authority figures and the previous generation) and the new threat of Hitler, you can see where Wisbar is coming from.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Horror, mystery and a love story all rolled up in one.

6/10
Author: Chuck Straub from Mansfield, CT USA
19 March 2004

Nice simple movie. Great atmosphere and good acting. Reminds me somewhat of the old Universal studios monster movies. This movie is by PRC Pictures in 1946. When I first watched it I thought it was made earlier. It almost looked like a movie from the 30s. Looks like this movie had a much cheaper budget than contemporary horror movies but they did well with what they had. It has a combination of horror, mystery and a love story all rolled up in one. It has a great atmosphere about it and is really quite enjoyable. It's a fairly short movie of 58 minutes and keeps your attention throughout. I gave it a 6 out of 10 rating. Well worth seeing, keeping in mind that it is a older movie from 1946.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Spooky sets, looming ghost.

Author: GroovyDoom from Haddonfield, IL
9 January 2003

Many others here have commented well on this little movie, and I don't have much to add that hasn't already been said. It's very foggy, it's very atmospheric, and it's extremely dated. I suppose that's why I liked it so much.

The story takes place in a village that is secluded by marshes, and I became fascinated by the location more than anything else. It seemed to be mostly fantasy, but could there really have been a place like this in real life? The characters live in relatively nice houses and seem to even have electricity, yet at one point a family is seen leaving town in a covered horse-drawn wagon. The heroine is a woman who is intent on taking over her deceased grandfather's role as a ferryman, although when she arrives at this town she does not even know the old man is dead, leading me to believe they don't have phones. The ferry itself is a diminutive boat pulled back and forth by a rope fixed over the swamp. Where are these people going? What's on the other side of the swamp? How were the houses built in this swamp if the only access is by a small boat? Is the village located on an island?

There is also a perpetual fog that permeates the film, and this is probably one of the coolest elements of the movie. Even during the day the fog is present, and we see the new female ferryboat operator reclining in some grass while she waits for the next fare, billows of fog drifting over her. I found myself asking a lot of questions, like...Is the swamp not infested with mosquitos? Is the grass dry enough to relax on? What is the weather like in this swampy area anyway that would make it so darn foggy all the time?

The movie has a charmingly stagy look, the swamp set is pretty wonderful and the idea of an entire community existing under these isolated conditions is a great idea. The ghost is actually pretty spooky too, and real for a change (instead of being exposed as a fake at the end). I liked how obscure the film apparently is, although now it's available on DVD, which is where I saw it. I recommend this for all fans of low-budget black & white spooky movies.

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