Monday, October 03, 2011

Blood Will Tell

If ever there were any doubt that some actors have an indefinable suitability for horror movies, I give you Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961, directed by Sidney J. Furie), a film undone in its entirety by a lead actor who has no business whatsoever playing the lead in a horror movie, let alone a mad scientist. I've never seen a movie so completely bushwhacked by its choice of a leading man. It's not that Kieron Moore is attractive in a leading-man sort of way, which isn't necessarily poison to a career in horror. Hell, Christopher Lee was attractive. So was John Barrymore. It's just that there's something undeniably "wrong" with Moore relative to the genre, something that marks him as a fish out of water. He confirms the existence of "it" by the complete void left in "it's" absence. It's all in the negative space, I suppose.

The movie is a b-picture programmer about the title character, Dr. Peter Blood, who is expelled from his research program in Vienna for experimenting on humans. He returns home to England, where someone is kidnapping the locals and swiping medical supplies from the local doctor. When he joins the hunt, it becomes clear that Dr. Peter Blood is up to some serious hanky panky. Indeed, his experiments are designed to bring the dead back to life!

"Wait!" you might be saying. "Isn't this the plot of Re-Animator?" Well, yes. It is. It's also the plot of Frankenstein, I guess, but, man, this seems like a low-grade first draft of Stuart Gordon's film, minus the gore and Barbara Crampton's creamy flesh and Jeffrey Combs's "it" factor. In exchange, Doctor Blood's Coffin gives us Hazel Court (which is a good thing) and the Cornwall coastline (which is also a good thing) and a young Nicolas Roeg on camera (another good thing). Hell, it even has a sense of willful perversity as our deranged hero attempts to court Nurse Parker (Court) by raising her dead husband from the dead. I'm a little uncomfortable with the speechifying about god and the nature of the soul, but that's the grumpy atheist in me, so pay it no mind. But this film also has Moore, who sucks it all into himself like an errant black hole. Seriously, this should work, but it doesn't. It sits there lifeless on the screen.

Current tally: 3 films

First time viewings: 3

Around the web:

Insanislupus at 1001 things takes on Pinocchio's Revenge. He's braver than I am.

Andreas at Pussy Goes Grrr takes on It (the miniseries based on Stephen King's novel) and finds it wanting.


insanislupus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I haven't seen this movie in probably 10 years, but I found it mildly enjoyable back then (who knows what I'd think of it now).

I just saw Kieron Moore playing a scientist (a grumpy, drunk one who likes to jerk his wife around by the arm) in The Day of the Triffids a few days back and he didn't make much of an impression either way. Just your typical blandly competent type of heroic lead that seemed popular back then.