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Shanks (1974)

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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 344 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)

Shanks (1974) on IMDb 5.7/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A new concept in the macabre in which the Good come out of the grave and the Evil are sent to fill the vacancy. See more »


Fantasy | Horror






Release Date:

9 October 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


William Castle's final film as a director. See more »


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 »


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

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User Reviews

EXTREMELY ODD and poorly made fantasy/horror film.
27 November 2000 | by (Putney, VT) – See all my reviews

SHANKS by its very rarity has conjured a reputation it does not deserve. The story is one of the oddest ever put on film. A deaf/mute puppeteer learns how to animate dead bodies. He re-animates the aged inventor who shared the process with him. He re-animates (after he arranges their deaths) his evil sister and brother-in-law. He then arranges a birthday party for a young girl he likes, where the wait staff are his dead family members. Then a motorcycle gang bursts in, starts drinking and spreading mayhem, rapes and kills the young girl and festoons themselves about the inventor's castle. Our hero re-animates the inventor who one by one kills them all, although he does get the honor of offing the leader of the gang himself. The one woman biker seems to disappear entirely from the script.

The direction is awful as is the screenplay. Totally illogical actions and responses predominate and it takes seemingly FOREVER to complete a simple act. The whole end of the film from when the bikers enter seems to go on for an eternity.

Marcel Marceau does a marvelous mime job as both our hero, Malcolm Shanks, and the Aged Inventor. Fellow mimes, Tsilla Chelton and Philippe Clay, play the evil siblings. It is worth one's time to watch these masters of the art at work, even though the vehicle is so shabby.

As it's practically a silent film (over 90% without dialogue), Alex North's comedic and atmospheric musical score provides much of the pointed direction as to how we are supposed to react to these curious events and as such had a functional value to the film, which resulted in an Oscar nom for Best Music Score.

If you're really hard up for something to watch, or are fond of mime, it's a go. Otherwise, turn to the weather channel.

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