Sunday, December 8, 2019
The Curse of the Living Corpse (Del Tenney, 1964)
Fifteen months later, I am back and hopefully better than ever. The Curse of the Living Corpse is the third film I've seen by Del Tenney, and without a doubt the best. The Horror of Party Beach was marred by lame comedy and a goofy-looking monster, although some great songs by the Del-Aires did help redeem it a smidgen, and I Eat Your Skin was a pre-Romero zombie story released six years after it was made on a double bill with the more entertaining I Drink Your Blood. Eventually, I'm gonna try to see Tenney's fourth and final film, Descendant, starring Jeremy London (T.S. Quint in Mallrats), Katherine Heigl, and William Katt. This film is a murder mystery that, while not innovative, is well-acted and enjoyable. Roy Scheider in particular turns in a great performance as the dry-witted drunk Philip, showing all the signs of future stardom. Candace Hilligoss isn't given as juicy a role as Mary Henry in her most famous film, but she acquits herself well nonetheless. With the exception of Abigail and Robert, none of the members of Rufus Sinclair's family (especially Clark Gable lookalike Bruce) are very sympathetic, and their deaths are no great losses, although it's worth wondering how much Rufus' undesirable traits, often referenced by the characters, rubbed off on them. Tenney himself plays the titular Living Corpse, clad in a hat, cloak, and scarf a la the Shadow. The Cross and the Switchblade's Paul Haney and Captain Video and His Video Rangers' George Cotton play passable comic relief Constables. The music by George Burt and Wilford L. Holcombe is nicely atmospheric, and Richard Hilliard's cinematography is another strong point of the film. Fans of mysteries may or may not get a kick out of some of the classic tropes used, including the killer peeking through the eyeholes of Rufus Sinclair's portrait at his widow. If you want to see Del Tenney at his best, head over to Amazon Prime and check it out!