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The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

Approved | | Comedy, Horror | 22 January 1964 (USA)
Dishonest undertaker Waldo Trumbull and his sidekick Felix Gillie are creating their own customers when they cannot find willing ones.




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Complete credited cast:
Waldo Trumbull
Felix Gillie
Amos Hinchley
Amaryllis Trumbull
Cemetery Keeper
Beverly Powers ...
Mrs. Phipps (as Beverly Hills)
Mr. John F. Black
Alan DeWitt ...
Buddy Mason ...
Mr. Phipps
Douglas Williams ...
Linda Rogers ...
Phipps' Maid
Luree Holmes ...
Black's Servant
Cleopatra (as Rhubarb)


Waldo Trumbull, 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. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A macabre romp featuring 4 great names from the Horror Hall of Fame! See more »


Comedy | Horror


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 January 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Graveside Story  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Completed September 1963. See more »


Peter Lorre's stunt double is quite obvious - he's clearly a younger man (with longer, darker hair), wearing a Lorre mask. See more »


John F. Black, Esq.: [fighting to get out of the coffin into which Trumbull and Gillie have put him and which they are fighting to keep closed] Let me out of here!
Waldo Trumbull: We most certainly will NOT let you out of here, sir!
John F. Black, Esq.: Confound you, sir!
Waldo Trumbull: Confound you too, sir! Will you KINDLY have the goodness to die?
John F. Black, Esq.: NEVER!
See more »


Referenced in Masters of Fantasy: Vincent Price (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Macabre black comedy sports top-flight cast
3 January 2005 | by See all my reviews


Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Panavision)

Sound format: Mono

The proprietor of a debt-ridden funeral parlor (Vincent Price) seeks to drum up a little business by resorting to murder, but one of his 'victims' (Basil Rathbone) is merely cataleptic and refuses to lie down and die...

Eager to re-team their 'triumverate of terror' following the unexpected commercial success of THE RAVEN (1963), AIP assembled Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff for this second helping of macabre black comedy, adding Rathbone to an already potent brew and hiring much of the same production personnel, including cinematographer Floyd Crosby and set designer Daniel Haller (later a director in his own right). In fact, Rathbone - who must have been insulted by his 'also starring' credit, behind even fleeting guest star Joe E. Brown and 'Rhubarb' the cat! - steals the picture from his high-profile co-stars, playing the dotty, Shakespeare-spouting owner of Price's funeral parlor whose verbal gymnastics alone are worth the price of admission (he warns Price and his cohorts they "face the incommodious prospect of taking up residence in the street" if they don't pay their hefty rent arrears!).

But Richard Matheson's tongue-in-cheek script is quite bleak in places: Price plays a sarcastic, bad-tempered drunk who lords it over his hapless assistant (Lorre), treats his untalented, opera-loving wife (Joyce Jameson) with open contempt, and is prepared to commit first degree murder in order to sustain his fortunes! Karloff sits on the sidelines for the most part, consigned to a chair due to ill health, but he makes the most of what he's given, and he plays a crucial role in the climactic sequence, which closes proceedings on a note of pitch black humor. Fans of lowbrow comedy will be especially amused by the devastation wrought whenever Jameson launches into one of her operatic arias! An ultra-professional production team - under the direction of Val Lewton protégé Jacques Tourneur - performs minor miracles on a clearly impoverished budget, and Crosby's gleaming cinematography makes a virtue of Haller's minimalist production design. Watch out for Rathbone's scene-stealing catch-phrase: "What place... is THIS?!"

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