Showing posts with label The Body Snatcher (1945). Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Body Snatcher (1945). Show all posts

26/11/2009

THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)

DAY #398

Another white-out. A white-out out. I mean outside, its a white-out. An out and out white-out in fact.

It's completely white is what I'm trying to say (outside).

So lots of time to sit here and think... to reflect on my life before the igloo...

God, I loved women. Loved them so much that I wanted to hold them, squeeze them and never let go. This led to all sorts of lawsuits involving complicated legal jargon such as 'strangulation' and 'murder', and at one stage I was even accused of being sexist!

"What's wrong with being sexy, love?" I replied to the female lawyer, pretending to have misheard her.

But she didn't see the joke, and went on to cite the fact that most of my 12 marriages had ended acrimoniously. She even had the gall to suggest that the only reason some of the marriages hadn't ended acrimoniously was because the bodies were never recovered from the reservoir*.

In my defence, I tried reminding her of the time I judged a beauty competition. But in response, all that this efficient, well-prepared and sexy lawyer did was quote my beauty competition judging notes back at me - in particular the page where I'd scrawled "All whores must die!" across the page in a mixture of my blood and semen.

I said no more on the subject, but to this day I still regret judging that beauty competition. It caused me no end of bother, especially when the winner went missing after an evening stroll with me.

But all this happened long ago, and beauty competitions are probably a lot less controversial these days. So! Enough attempts at reminiscing - here comes a film!


THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)






Misleading Poster Alert...



The Body Snatcher is one of three horror films in which Boris Karloff starred for producer Val Lewton (the others being ISLE OF THE DEAD & BEDLAM). Tis based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story, set in his home-town of olde Edinburgh around the 1820s. The tale centres around an idealistic young medical student Fettes (played by Russell Wade who pronounces Edinburgh as Edin-bow-row in his first scene which, as a Scot myself, is pretty unforgivable so I won't be mentioning him again), who gets taken on as an apprentice by the renowned Dr. MacFarlane. Now all we need are specimens to examine so we can work out how to save a young girl's life...

Although this film reunites Lugosi and Karloff, the main action is between Henry Daniell as Dr. Macfarlane and Karloff as his nemesis, Cabman and part-time Graverobber and Murderer John Gray.

Both actors play their parts superbly, no doubt helped by the beautifully written dialogue. Daniell manages to elicit real sympathy for his character even though he's a humourless and highly-strung arse, and Karloff gives a wonderfully sinister yet intelligent performance as the mocking Gray, who seems to have an uncanny hold over the doctor. Maybe they share a secret past?



The relationship between these two characters is what makes The Body Snatcher so compelling, locked as they are in some sort of death-embrace just like a pair of... I can't remember exactly. But I do seem to recall watching a nature show with two insects fighting which resulted in a ghastly stale-mate, where the next move would mean instant death for both of them. Anyway, that's Gray and Macfarlane.

Has anyone compared this film to Cape Fear before? I'd certainly do an in-depth study of the themes shared between the two If I wasn't restricted to watching random films in this bloody igloo. For a start, there are some obvious similarities in the storyline of both films, with the not-so-innocent protagonist coming up against a less than welcome reminder from their past. In both films, its the 'good guys' who seem less comfortable in their own skin, whereas Gray and Cady seem to have no such problems with what they are. They have come to terms with the evil that men (usually themselves) do. Also, in a touch which I particularly enjoy, throughout both films our flawed heroes are saddled with something of a pet-name by their nemesises - Gray enjoys referring to Macfarlane as 'Toddy' with the same evident relish that Max Cady greets Sam Bowden as 'Counselor'.

As I alluded to earlier, the relationship between Macfarlane and Gray surely can't end well for either of them. And it doesn't. No one here gets out alive, yet even in death the two can't be separated it would seem...

The Body Snatcher is a true horror classic which has stood the test of time remarkably well. It explores ethical issues regarding our quest of knowledge that are still relevant today, and offers a stark warning of what happens when good men allow bad things to happen to achieve their own goals. And for many, it's Karloff's finest performance.



"I am a small man, a humble man. Being poor I have had to do much that I did not want to do. But so long as the great Dr McFarlane comes to my whistle, that long am I a man. If I have not that then I have nothing. Then I am only a cabman and a grave robber. You'll never get rid of me, Toddy."

MORE KARLOFF AT THE BORIS KARLOFF BLOGATHON

* Reservoir is just a complete guess of course.