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Rufus Sinclair was a cranky old millionaire with a terrible fear of being buried alive. After his apparent death, clauses in his will meant to prevent his being buried alive are violated by his uncaring family, and soon a masked figure begins prowling the family's Connecticut estate, slaughtering the family members one by one in a variety of separate, horrible ways. Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
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The setting is New England in the late 19th century. A hated and feared patriarch, Rufus Sinclair, has supposedly died, and his family lays him to rest. However, the corpse rises from the grave, and proceeds to punish the heirs to the estate. This is done by killing each person in the manner that they fear most: mutilation of ones' face, drowning, fire, etc.
"The Curse of the Living Corpse" was written, produced and directed by Del Tenney, something of a cult figure even if he only made a handful of movies. His others include "The Horror of Party Beach", "Violent Midnight", and "Zombie" a.k.a. "I Eat Your Skin". His tribute to the classic "old dark house" genre of black & white horror films is actually reasonably competent, although it must be said that it's mostly pretty lighthearted and fun stuff. It's never really scary, or even that atmospheric. Still, it has its delights, such as a memorable severed-head-on-a-platter gag. Tenney's screenplay won't bear much scrutiny, but in a fairly lightweight lark like this, that might not matter too much to the prospective viewer.
The movie is very much noteworthy for being the screen debut for future star Roy Scheider, who gets the top billed role and who is obviously having fun. He hams his way through his performance as drink-loving, sardonic Philip. Robert Milli is amusing as the pompous Bruce, Linda Donovan is a real cutie as the servant Letty, and Margot Hartman (the real life Mrs. Tenney) is fine as Vivian. This can also boast the only other film appearance for Candace Hilligoss, known to horror buffs as the star of "Carnival of Souls".
The story comes complete with comedy relief cops played by Paul Haney and George Cotton, who supply us with the blatantly goofy ending.
Nothing great but it is entertaining.
Seven out of 10.
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