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José Ramón Larraz
Elga and Valerie Soon to Be Sitting in the Gallery
I guess I am the odd man out here. I rather thought this film - a troubled production that took years to complete and finally hit the screen - was rather entertaining in a sick, undeniably twisted, bad way. Yes, it has some lamentable aspects. Karloff is ancient and it shows. The story has lots of continuity problems(remember it was completed over several years and was not released till a couple years after Karloff's death). It has a very perverse story line about Karloff, a great artist living in Spain, and his demented, tormenting wife, played with zeal by Viveca Lindfors, needing bodies for his sculptures. You see, even though he is blind, he still can sculpt based on armatures based on real remains. Karloff believes his wife is getting them one way, and she is definitely getting them another way. French photographer Jean Pierre Aumont smugs for the camera saying silently, "God, don't I look so charming." He isn't, but he is an adequate leading man if nothing else. The girls in the story, particularly the girl playing Elga and Rosenda Monteros as Valerie are lovely creatures at the very least. And what about Karloff? He is still good and still one of the best things about this film(though my greater inclination is to side with one of the nastiest female portrayals in film I've seen in some time by Ms. Lindfors). Karloff still has a commanding voice and presence, and this film role is much meatier than any of that garbage he did for Mexico at the very end of his life. This movie has much greater continuity and story line than any of those four horror stories of film. Cauldron of Blood is by no means a great film - nor a good film, but I did find it reasonably entertaining and I, for one, was never bored watching it. Really, how can you go wrong with King Karloff, Viveca Lindfors wearing a Nazi-like uniform with riding crop and nylon netting under her eyes having flashbacks of her youth as a pig-tailed blonde no less, a cauldron of acid that burns the flesh off of any carcass, and a fight scene in the dark with a blind man and his hateful wife. As Karloff's character says to his wife, having just accused her of causing him to be blind, "Till death do we part I suppose." Nobody ever said a line like Boris!
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