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Reginald Le Borg
In the end of the Nineteenth Century, the aristocrat Edward Markham is disfigured by sorcery in Africa by the natives. His brother Julian Markham brings him back to the Markham Manor in England and keeps him prisoner in the attic. The mad Edward asks his lawyer Trench and his partner to bring the African sorcerer N'Galo in secret to heal him but Julian does not allow any contact with his brother. Trench and N'Galo simulate the death of Edward to remove him from the attic in a coffin. However, body snatchers bring his body to the unscrupulous Dr. Newhartt for his research. Edward offers a large amount to Dr. Newhartt to stay hidden in his house and wears a crimson hood to hide his face. When Edward goes to the town, his mask brings problem to him and he begins a series of murders. When he finally meets N'Galo, he finds why the natives have deformed him and he seeks revenge. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ahhh - The Gothic Horrors of American International Pictures. While they did their best to copy the look of the successful formula employed by Hammer Films, and rather successfully at that, they generally did not "get" what made those films from across the pond so compelling and endearing. "Oblong Box" is a prime example, coming very close to a gratifying cinematic experience, but ultimately failing. The story is jumbled and confusing. Too many elements are thrown into the mix, with even the most vital plot points never fully, or even half-heartedly for that matter, explained.
The film opens with a man being tortured in some voodoo ritual. Soon we learn that he has survived, albeit horribly disfigured - both physically and mentally, and is being cared after by his brother, played by Vincent Price. For reasons unknown, he plots with an unscrupulous acquaintance to have himself appear dead and buried so he can be taken to a witch doctor. He ends up being buried alive but his coffin is stolen by grave robbers and sold to a local doctor for experiment, played by Christopher Lee. He winds up hiding out at Lee's house while he enacts revenge on whoever he feels wronged him - taking a few breaks for sex with housemaids and hookers - all while keeping his face covered with a Crimson Mask. His face is kept hidden until the end of the film, and when it is finally revealed it is a big let-down, as are all of the "special effects" in the film - which are pretty lamely executed, even by these kinds of films' standards. However, there is an excellent cast of actors here, thank goodness, who manage to at least keep things interesting. The Gothic scenery, sets, castles, graveyards are all nicely done as well and rather pleasing to the eye. A more straightforward approach would have been most definitely beneficial, with motives and actions better explained.
Anyone hoping to see Lee and Price battle it out on screen will be sorely disappointed as their screen time together amounts to just one scene, and a few seconds at that. Neither one can rightfully be called the star, popping in and (mostly) out of the picture - with poor Lee's role seeming as though it were shoehorned in at the last moment, just to give him something to do. Fans of these Hammer Horrors will certainly find a viewing worthy, but repeated viewings will most likely remain undesired and even more frustrating.
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