The Oblong Box

Some things are better left buried.

91 min     5.8     1969     United Kingdom


Aristocrat Julian Markham keeps his disfigured brother, Sir Edward, locked in a tower of his house. Occasionaly Sir Edward escapes and causes havoc around the town.


John Chard wrote:
Curse of the Crimson Hood. the Oblong Box is directed by Gordon Hessler and adapted to screenplay by Lawrence Huntington and Christopher Wicking from the short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. It stars Vincent price, Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Alister Williamson, Uta Levka, Sally Geeson and Peter Arne. Music is by Harry Robertson and cinematography is by John Coquillon. Aristocrat Julian Markham (Price) keeps his disfigured brother, Sir Edward (Williamson), locked in a tower of his house. Occasionaly Sir Edward escapes and causes havoc around the town. Edgar Allan Poe's work had already been mined for consistent rewards, normally with Price in the lead role, unfortunately this one became a step too far (it's loosely adapted). It was blighted with the original director, Michael Reeves (Witchfinder General), committing suicide during production. In came Hessler, whose subsequent directing CV smacks of a lack of quality, and here it's a flat production straining to gain any horror momentum. Thematically there's interest, with witch doctors, drugs that simulate death, double-crosses and a crimson hooded murderer on the loose. There's also the whiff of British Colonialism pulsing away in the mix. Sadly the "unmasking" of the killer is a damp squib of poor make up, the twin horror greats of Price and Lee don't share screen time together, and the finale drifts aimlessly into a nothing worthwhile twist. Not a dead loss as such, but really it's bottom tier of the Poe horror adaptations. 5/10
Wuchak wrote:
_**Vincent Price, Hilary Dwyer, Gothic horror and Voodoo in 19th century London**_ In 1865 England, an aristocrat (Vincent Price) locks his brother (Alister Williamson) in the attic because he was hideously scarred by a Voodoo revenge ritual in Africa. While the Lord woos nubile Elizabeth (Hilary Dwyer) the caged sibling is able to escape with the assistance of his lawyer and a witchdoctor, eventually hiding out with an unscrupulous doctor (Christopher Lee). When the hooded man ventures out of the house horror ensues. While "The Oblong Box” (1969) utilizes several Edgar Allan Poe themes, it is nothing like Poe’s East Coast sea voyage story from 1844 and simply borrows the title for a tale of Gothic horror in 19th century London. Producers at AIP thought linking Poe to a film would sell more tickets, which is why they dubiously renamed “Witchfinder General” “The Conqueror Worm” for American audiences a year earlier. Since “Witchfinder” was a surprise hit (for such a low-budget flick) producers hired the same director, Michael Reeves, and three members of the cast for this project (Price, Dwyer and Rupert Davies). Unfortunately, Reeves fell ill during pre-production and was replaced by Gordon Hessler. The young, promising director was found dead of an accidental overdose less than three months later at the age of 25. The cast is fine, the ambiance of Gothic horror is superlative and the females are appealing (Dwyer, Sally Geeson and Uta Levka). Regrettably, the script is filled with nonsensical bits and vagueness. For instance, how is it that no one at the aged brother’s funeral knew what he actually looked like? If Edward’s disfigurement is the result of a Voodoo ceremony, how does it morph into a contagious disease at the end? Sorry, but weak writing like this doesn’t make for great movies. Yet I suppose you can sorta put the pieces of the puzzle together if you use your imagination and it’s still worth checking out if you like movies such as Corman & Coppola’s “The Terror” (1963) and the aforementioned “Witchfinder General.” But this is the least of these IMHO. The movie runs 1 hour, 36 minutes and was shot at Shepperton Studios, just west of London. GRADE: B-/C+