Ah, this is what the doctor ordered. Look at that cast! I've recently become a big fan of Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price is my favorite actor period. Of course, Boris Karloff is nothing to sneeze at. You have Basil Rathbone hamming it way up and quoting Shakespeare pole to pole. Joyce Jameson's cleavage is ace. Let's be honest; that's all women are good for, am I right? Just joshing! Actually, her performance is quite droll. Her forced bad singing made the faucets in my house tap out (that joke should be framed). Thus far, I've been raining plaudits down on 1963's The Comedy of Terrors, but it pains me to say that I wouldn't recommend it. It's a comedy above all else, and yet, it isn't particularly funny.
Humor being a subjective thing, I doubt that I can substantiate my claims other than stating...I didn't laugh. Much. Price heads a well-worn premise that finds his character running his father-in-law's funeral parlor. Business is sluggish, so Price (Waldo, the autocratic scuzzball) and Lorre (Felix, the second-in-command pushover) create their own customer base. It's The Body Snatcher, only they aren't selling the corpses to a scientist. Waldo needs to pay his yearly rent (!). Then it hits him; why not waste the landlord? "We'll kill two birds with one pillow." Naturally, shenanigans follow. This mischief is shockingly arid. You might even say it's hoary! I wouldn't, but you might.
The main problem is that there are three, maybe four jokes in the whole movie. Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay, which is why it chafes my rind to level these scurrilities, but are they not deserved? Am I not human? The wife has a terrible opera voice, the sidekick is a stumbling oaf and the landlord refuses to stay in his coffin. Boom. I have just outlined The Comedy of Terrors. Granted, shards of other epigrams squawk through, but the film's plane of camp comes off as too one-dimensional. Was it snobbish of me to expect something a bit more...intellectual? Again, look at the cast. I tried to "let my hair down" and go with the flow, but honestly, I wasn't entertained.
That's not to say that The Comedy of Terrors isn't a well-lubricated affair. It certainly looks grand. And it should, as the camera is guided by Jacques Tourneur. That bad motherfucker directed 1957's Night (or Curse) of the Demon, one of my favorite horror-themed moving pictures of all time. I don't have to tell you that Price excels at owning the scenery. Lorre and Karloff are equally glorious, as are the polymorphic sequences of hardcore pornography. Goodness gracious, those Asian tarts were absolutely pulverized. I'm sorry; I may be thinking of a different DVD that I...do not own. Let's wrap this up, shall we?
The Comedy of Terrors is MEH.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:56 PM