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Shanks (1974)

PG  |   |  Fantasy, Horror  |  9 October 1974 (USA)
5.7
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 377 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 25 critic

A mute puppeteer uses a deceased scientist's invention to control dead bodies like puppets.

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Title: Shanks (1974)

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Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
...
Malcolm Shanks / Old Walker
Tsilla Chelton ...
Mrs. Barton
Philippe Clay ...
Mr. Barton
Cindy Eilbacher ...
Celia
...
...
...
Biff Manard ...
Goliath
Mondo ...
Read Morgan ...
Policeman
...
Grocer
Phil Adams ...
Beethoven
Lara Wing ...
Little Girl
Edit

Storyline

Malcolm Shanks is a sad and lonely man, deaf, mute and living with his cruel sister and her husband, who delight in making him miserable. His only pleasure, it seems, is in making and controlling puppets. Thanks to his skill, he is offered a job as a lab assistant to Dr. Walker, who is working on ways to re-animate dead bodies by instering electrodes at key nerve points and manipulating the bodies as if they were on strings. When the professor suddenly dies one night, Shanks gets the idea to apply their experimental results to a human body, and then to start exacting some revenge. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Deliciously Grotesque. See more »

Genres:

Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

PG
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Details

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Release Date:

9 October 1974 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

'Marcel Marceau' plays two parts. See more »

Goofs

After Mrs. Barton moves Celia's placemat, Malcolm cocks her body to her left. In the following shot, she's cocked to her right. See more »

Crazy Credits

Right before the closing credits roll, a quote from William Makepeace Thackeray is featured: "Let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out." See more »

Connections

Featured in Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wolf in Sheep's Clothes...
28 February 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The film opens with a bizarre sequence where Marceau's character is performing a puppet show for a small audience of children. There are certain avant-garde editing techniques used which set the mood for the film and are reminiscent of the intro sequence to The Night Walker. Castle decides to employ intertitle cards, however, they function as a self-reflexive prompt for the audience in lieu of a surrogate for vocal expressions by the lead character (a mute character throughout the film although Marceau plays a second role with spoken lines). The directing has little finesse in its execution. The shot-reverse-shot seeks to suture but is too clumsy and overt - there is no alternating use of sound. Staging/blocking uses frontality as dominant and much of the interesting mise-en-scene is wasted for observation when redundant and sterile cut-ins continuously disrupt the mood while providing no extra insight to character psychology. The two roles played by Marceau are quite genius and provide great uplift for an otherwise pedestrian production effort. The two roles play into Castle's own authorial voice quite well and it is very surprising that he didn't direct this film better (keep in mind that it was his last). The two roles played by Marceau and the theme of the film itself concern concepts of interiority, exteriority, surrogacy and symbiosis (it is my thesis that Castle's gimmicks operated along these lines as well). There are some other provocative ideas at play within this script and its presentation by Castle (for the Freud and Lacan enthusiasts). There is a critical commentary about the corruption of sexual desire and the animation, re-animation and death of sexual drives in young and old bodies. There are criminological science ideas at play (issues of mens rea, Manson, culpability, etc.) rendering the film text richer and more relevant to its genre. Castle adds in some more self-reflexive touches that play well, including his bit role as shop owner, a horror film playing on a TV set, and a well shot and choreographed rooster attack which borrows significance from Strait-Jacket. The narrative frame keeps the fiction fenced in and frankly given Castle's oeuvre he could discard it pretty quickly in favor of a more open and interactive ending. The film is interesting and moderately entertaining but gets too cute pretending to be a fly caught in a spider's web when it should have been stampeding as an elephant until running into a frightened mouse.


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