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The Comedy of Terrors
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The Comedy of Terrors More at IMDbPro »

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41 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Contains Basil Rathbone's finest moments in film!

Author: blue_somnambulist ( from Holstenwall
17 August 2001

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!

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29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Mr. Gillie and his employer.

Author: theowinthrop from United States
5 March 2005

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.

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30 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Vincent Price is in great form in this fun and underrated classic!

Author: Jarle-B. Heggelund from Bergen, Norway
19 April 2004

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!!!

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30 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely hysterical!

Author: Xanadont
12 April 2003

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!

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Great fun.

Author: Christopher Moore ( from Melbourne, Australia
19 February 1999

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.

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16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A treat for the horror fan!

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
24 December 2004

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.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Very Funny Comedy of Black Humor

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
13 September 2014

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")

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18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Macabre black comedy sports top-flight cast

Author: Libretio
3 January 2005


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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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Fun black comedy with four sensational veteran actors who supply entertainment and amusement

Author: ma-cortes
11 April 2012

Fun horror /comedy with an exceptional quartet who provides much fun : Price , Karloff , Lorre and Rathbone . Amusing , delightful film produced by American International , James H. Nicholson-Samuel Z. Arkoff , with a monumental team of terror all-star-cast as Price , Lorre and Karloff . This supreme adventure in terror and humor based on the novel and screenplay by Richard Matheson deals with two deranged undertakers (Vincent Price and Peter Lorre) who take bad ways to insuring their continued employment , a Funeral Parlor called ¨Wichley and Trumbull¨. A lugubrious undertaker who hasn't had any customers in a long time is obligated the pay one year's back-rent by his landlord (Basil Rathbone) . Then the wickedest undertaker Waldo Trumbull and his unfortunate , frog-like associated named Felix Gillie to get money and both of whom begin killing people in order to get new clients . The couple goes to a mansion in Winkle Road inhabited by an old man and carry out their objective . There also appears Price's chalk-white father-in-law (Boris Karloff) aged about 90 , but refusing to die and leave Waldo the Funeral Parlor . Trade is so bad that Waldo and his underling have to go out and boost business by killing his immortal landlord . It gets funnier when our two friends pitting wills against the relieved landlord . And the end takes place a funny duel between Price and Rathbone.

This is more of a satire than a true terror movie , it is immaculately staged , stylishly realized , very literate , rich in atmosphere , confidently made and plenty of eye-popping scenes . May be one of the most successful terror farce ever realized with a considerable all-star-cast and original invention . Terror has strangely been more skillfully spoofed than in this agreeable horror/comedy Jacques Tourneur directed and realized in glorious fashion . The movie is realized in the same style to the successful adaptation Edgar Allen Poe series , the cycle of ¨Tales of Terror¨ , and especially ¨The Raven¨ also with the trio Price,Lorre,Karloff directed by Roger Corman and produced by James H Nicholson and Samuel Z Arkoff . For that reason packs usual Corman's striking scenarios including lugubrious mansions , colorful atmosphere , shrieks come from gloomy coffins and gleeful gallery of ghoulishness . Glimmer cinematography in magnificence color by the series usual , Floyd Crosby . Frightening and atmospheric musical score fitting to humor and horror by Les Baxter .

The flick based on Richard Matheson's screenplay playing to the spectator in amusing fashion . In spite of his poverty-budget horror is deemed a minor cult and gave enough profit from minimal inversion . The motion picture is produced by American International (James H Nicholson , Samuel Z. Arkoff) in a low budget and well directed by the classic director Jacques Tourneur in his final feature along with 'Curse of the demon' . He was an expert on terror cinema (Cat people , Curse of the demon , I walked with a Zombie , Leopard man) and adventures (Martin the Gaucho , Flame and the arrow , The pirate woman , City under the sea) . Despite the excessive satire most children and adults will like this enormously fun film . 'Comedy of terrors' is a sensational black comedy that maintains its classicism and reaching impressive dimensions . It will appeal to youngsters and adults who swallow whole and sit convulsed in their armchair and of course Vincent Price , Karloff , Lorre fans.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great to see so many famous actors together

Author: voltape from Lima, Peru
20 May 2004

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...

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