5.7/10
488
26 user 28 critic

Shanks (1974)

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

Director:

William Castle

Writer:

Ranald Graham
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Marcel Marceau ... Malcolm Shanks / Old Walker
Tsilla Chelton ... Mrs. Barton
Philippe Clay ... Mr. Barton
Cindy Eilbacher ... Celia
Helena Kallianiotes ... Mata Hari
Larry Bishop ... Napoleon
Don Calfa ... Einstein
Biff Manard Biff Manard ... Goliath
Mondo Mondo ... Genghis Khan
Read Morgan ... Policeman
William Castle ... Grocer
Phil Adams Phil Adams ... Beethoven
Lara Wing 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

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 October 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A bábmester See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alex North used parts of his rejected score for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) for this film. For example, the main title music was originally composed for the space station phone call sequence of 2001, but here rearranged with a female vocalist added. 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

Castle Goes Out with a Gem
15 March 2010 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Shanks (1974)

*** (out of 4)

Leave it to William Castle, the ultimate trick master, to save his strangest film for last but that's pretty much what he's done with SHANKS. In the film, Marcel Marceau plays a deaf puppet master who takes over for his scientist friend in a bizarre experiment that allows one to control the dead like you would a puppet. Soon the once abused man becomes in control of everything he's ever wanted. This is a pretty bizarre little movie and I can't imagine it being a big disaster when originally released because it's doubtful too many horror fans wanted to see a horror movie without any violence, blood, spooks or anything like that. Instead of going for cheap thrills, Castle has instead pretty much created a film that is all atmosphere and there's so little dialogue that one could nearly call this a silent film. We even get title cards to explain some of the action so it's extremely close to being a silent. Castle's direction handles the material incredibly well and I'd probably argue that this is perhaps his best made movie. There aren't any gimmicks or tricks being thrown out and instead Castle appears to be wanting to prove to critics that he was able of creating a movie without them. The atmosphere of the film is incredibly thick as it really does seem like you're watching something that doesn't take place on Earth or set during any particular time period. Famous mime Marceau is excellent in his role and really delivers a remarkable performance. His turn at playing this mute is without question one of the best I've seen from any actor as he doesn't have one false step and there's never a single second where it seems like we're just seeing an actor play a deaf man. Tsilla Chelton and Philippe Clay are also excellent especially when they're the "puppets" as it was quite amazing to watch them do their thing. The cute Cindy Eilbacher is the perfect mix to be a friend to Marceau. This isn't a very well known movie, which is a shame but part of this might be due to the fact that it has yet to ever get an official release. Hopefully one day it will get a wider release and people will give the film a second shot because it certainly deserves it and I can't help but think had it been made somewhere between the 40s and the 60s then it would be looked at as a minor classic. Being lost in the 70s, the film is in major need of rediscovery.


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