The Curse of the Living Corpse

April 6, 2015 at 3:57 am (5 Heads, Curse of the Living Corpse) (, , )

The Curse of the Living Corpse – 1964 – United States

In “New England 1892”, a cruel aristocrat dies. He suffered from a paranoid fear of premature burial, and his will contains instructions to prevent it. The will threatens the heirs with violent death if they fail to follow its directions. The greedy deranged heirs are pleased the aristocrat is dead and disregard his wishes. Soon they are murdered one by one in ways targeting each heir’s unique phobia. A vain man is dragged behind a horse until his face is mangled. A pyrophobe is tied to her bed and burned alive. An aquaphobe is drowned in the bath. Meanwhile, a man creeps around the family estate dressed like The Shadow. Has the aristocrat risen from the grave for revenge, or is something else afoot?

The Curse of the Living Corpse is a fine gothic mystery. There is plenty of brutal violence (such as a severed head being served for breakfast), but it succeeds best as a whodunit. The film’s slow pace does not lessen the tension, or the ever present atmosphere of dread. Also, the utterly despicable characters and their sordid relationships are intriguing. It is unfortunate that the unsurprising twist ending is so bland.

Parts of Curse of the Living Corpse recall The Premature Burial (1962), but it diverges significantly. The film was directed by Del Tenney and originally released with The Horror of Party Beach (1964) as a double feature.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. Like the best gothic mysteries, the killer spies on his victims through eyeholes in a painting.

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