5.7/10
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Shanks (1974)

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

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Malcolm Shanks / Old Walker
...
Mrs. Barton
Philippe Clay ...
Mr. Barton
...
Celia
...
Mata Hari
...
Napoleon
...
Einstein
Biff Manard ...
Goliath
Mondo ...
Genghis Khan
Read Morgan ...
Policeman
...
Grocer
Phil Adams ...
Beethoven
Lara Wing ...
Little Girl
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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)  »

Also Known As:

A bábmester  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film, as a director, of William Castle. 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

 
A very strange experience....
7 October 2005 | by See all my reviews

When one thinks of Marcel Marceau they think of the world's most famous mime. A performer who has entertained millions of people throughout the years with his mastery of pantomime. You certainly don't think of him as a manipulator of dead bodies!! But that's what he is here in this very strange film. He plays Malcolm Shanks, a mime who loves to entertain the neighborhood children. He lives with his sister & brother-in-law who are a shrew & a drunk & abuse him constantly. He is hired by a scientist who has perfected the art of reanimating the dead. I must stop for a second and let anyone who is reading this know that the film, while it sounds intriguing, doesn't play out the way you would think. It is at heart a fairy tale. A morality story perhaps. But most definitely NOT a horror story. To continue, The scientist dies & having learned his secrets while working with him, Malcolm reanimates his corpse & becomes very proficient at it. I'm not gonna get any deeper into it at this point. Suffice it to say that more than a few people get their corpses reanimated by Malcolm and no good can come from that.....

Marceau plays both Malcolm & The Scientist(Walker) & performs admirably in both roles. There is a scene where Malcolm learns to animate Walker's facial muscles that is very effective. He goes from slack-jawed to smiling so slowly & eerily that at first you think the film is frozen. Almost like time lapse photography. It really shows off Marceau's expertise. There is very little dialogue in the film. It plays like a silent film(It even has title cards)because it is 90% silent. The score by Alex North is therefore very important to the tone of the film, & it is very effective in conveying the mood that the filmmakers were trying to achieve. It was so effective it was nominated for an academy award.

I enjoyed the film but there are VERY SLOW PASSAGES in it. So slow that it will turn many people off. It also ends very curiously. It is a very odd but lyrical film that is a great attempt at a Grim fairy tale. But ultimately it fails because of it's terrible pacing & low budget. You might dig it if you're willing to accept it's idiosyncracies. If not...well give it a try anyway. Who knows??


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