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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!
French born Jacques Tourneur, is the director behind stylish
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
as his aging father in law, and Peter Lorre equally funny as Prices
Also starring is the wonderful Basil Rathbone as the rich landlord who
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 saw this film as a child over 30 years ago, and I still remember many specific moments from it. I found it absolutely hysterical then, and still do today. Vincent Price and Peter Lorre are terrific. Lots of broad slapstick, but a lot of funny smaller moments and asides that work very well, also. I read some of the other comments, some who thought it unfunny. They are crazy. See this movie!
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.
Highly recommended to those with a devilish sense of humour. Vincent Price
is wonderfully evil as the desperate undertaker. Peter Lorre is disgusting
but lovable as the assistant caught between Price's evil ways and his lovely
(opera-punishing) wife (played with gusto and terrible audibility by Joyce
Jameson). Boris Karloff (who never seems to get his medicine) is excellent
as JJ's elderly father.
Honours go to their demanding landlord, Basil Rathbone, who.... well, watch the film and find out.
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.
THE COMEDY OF TERRORS
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?!"
The alcoholic director of the Hinchley & Trumbull Funeral Parlor Waldo
Trumbull (Vincent Price) is a cheater that has married Amaryllis
Trumbull (Joyce Jameson) in a marriage of convenience to get control of
the business of her father Amos Hinchley (Boris Karloff). Trumbull has
been using the same casket for more than thirteen years, dumping the
corpses in their graves to resell the coffin. He also blackmails his
only employee Felix Gillie (Peter Lorre) that had robbed a bank and is
an abusive husband, threatening to poison his father-in-law and not
allowing Amaryllis to sing. Gillie has a crush on Amaryllis and loves
to hear her singing.
Trumbull owes more than one year of rental of his premise to Mr. John F. Black (Basil Rathbone) and he has no client. So he decides to improve his business killing Mr. Phipps (Buddy Mason) to get a new client. However his wife Mrs. Phipps (Beverly Hills) flees to Europe with all her possessions and does not pay for the funeral service. When Mr. Black duns his debts, Trumbull decides to kill him to make some money and resolve his financial problem. But Mr. Black is epileptic and his family wants to keep his body in a crypt instead of burying him in a grave. During the night, the Cemetery Keeper (Joe E. Brown) hears a cry and releases Mr. Black from the coffin in the beginning of a tragic night.
... "Comedy of Terrors" is a very funny comedy of black humor. The veterans Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone have incredibly comic performances. The movie begins hilarious before the credits and I laughed and repeated many scenes so funny they are. It is impossible to list the best scenes since there are many of them. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Farsa Trágica" ("Tragic Farse")
I have just seen the film - It's good to see again Price, Karloff, Big Mouth Joe E. Brown, Rathbone,Lorre. etc.. The plot may not be exceedingly good but a guy like me who saw them in my early youth cannot help but feel refreshed seeing them again. Just to see them is ample reward. Peter Lorre of all people made me remember the striking beauty of Joan Fontaine in the Constant Nymph which I saw back in 1951! And Casablanca -- ah! I am perhaps too romantic to spend time detecting evident errors in stunts as has my British predecessor in commenting. I just love cinema for the emotions a movie elicits, or the memories it brings back, no matter the technical aspects in it. Certainly, a cast as this had to be in a film that revolved around cemeteries, buried alive people (remember Price in the Fall of the House of Usher..?) I could just continue writing a lot...
This film really shouldn't be taken seriously. It's a spoof of itself,
through and through, and it looks like the cast had a good time with
My three favorites are here: Vincent Price plays the unscrupulous mortician, whose impatience brings his floundering business some new customers. Peter Lorre is his unwilling partner and Boris Karloff is the bumbling father in law. Pretty Joyce Jameson is here too, with a singing voice that could shatter nerve endings but which nonetheless weaves a siren spell over lovesick Lorre. Basil Rathbone is here too, playing his part of The Rich Jerk with an unrivaled prissy elegance. Vincent Price has never played a better slimy villain; his performance is truly hysterical. This is a very satisfying film; it's funny, it's spooky when it needs to be and it has a great happy ending where everyone who deserves comeuppance gets it and everyone else goes away happily ever after. I actually prefer this film to "The Raven" and would only name "The Masque of the Red Death" as my absolute favorite out of all the Corman/Price vehicles.
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