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DR. BLOOD’S COFFIN (director: Sidney J. Furie; screenwriters: Nathan Juran/James Kelley/Peter Miller; cinematographer: Stephen Dade; editor: Antony Gibbs; music: Buxton Orr; cast: Kieron Moore (Peter Blood), Hazel Court (Linda Parker), Ian Hunter (Doctor Robert Blood), Fred Johnson (Tregaye), Andy Alston (George Beale), Paul Stockman (Steve Parker), Gerald Lawson (Mr. Morton), Kenneth J. Warren (Sergeant Cook); Runtime: 92; United Artists; 1961-UK)
“A low-grade, low-budget Hammer type of exploitation horror film that is lurid and makes little sense…”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-grade, low-budget Hammer type of exploitation horror film that is lurid and makes little sense, but it was diverting as it got itself all bloody from all the dead flesh it was handling. The brilliant scientist, Peter Blood (Kieron Moore), who is the son of the respected local surgeon, Dr. Robert Blood (Ian Hunter), in the small Cornish village of Porthcarron returns from his studies in Vienna on a science grant, but tells no one that he’s a disbarred doctor and is insane. He got into trouble in Vienna with the old scientist in charge of his lab, as he was caught in an unauthorized experiment trying to take the life of a live patient in order to advance his theory that it is possible to bring back to life the dead through a heart transplant. His reasoning goes something like this: he kills the worthless and uses their hearts to save the worthy.

“Dr. Blood’s Coffin” is directed by the Canadian Sidney J. Furie, who honed his flashy film-making style in this cheapie and went on to make more such films but with a little bit more polish. Such examples are: The Ipcress File (65) and The Appaloosa (66). This film was adapted from the story by Nathan Juran (he’s the main one responsible for this mess), while the screenwriters were James Kelley and Peter Miller.

Peter’s father is happy to see him after he has been away so long studying. While Peter’s happy to see that his dad hired an attractive nurse/receptionist, Linda Parker (Hazel Court). Linda’s husband was a mine surveyor and died in an accident a year ago. They make mushy eyes at each other, as Peter starts driving Linda around in his sporty convertible and shows an interest in dating her. But things are too hectic in town for them to relax together, since there’s some men mysteriously missing and some of Dr. Blood’s medical supplies have been stolen. Sergeant Cook (Kenneth J. Warren) believes the missing men could be in one of the abandoned tin mines. One of the old miners, George Beale, is asked to lead a search party the next morning since he’s the only one still around town who knows all its secret passages.

George is chloroformed by Peter at night while he’s sleeping and injected with an Indian poisonous drug that makes it appear as if he’s dead, but George will remain alive long enough for Peter to do his Dr. Frankenstein thing on him. When Peter goes to the secret mine passage, now used as his lab, to locate where he placed George, he discovers his unwilling patient missing. With all the strength he could muster, George escapes from the mine shaft and is brought by his rescuers to the police in critical condition but is unable to talk coherently. Peter has remained in town to lead the police on a search of the mine, as he’s the only other one in town who knows all the secret passages — he played there when his mother died when he was a five-year old, as his father was too busy to stay with him. His dad meanwhile goes to the bigger next town of Plymouth and conducts a lab analyses of what was in the hypodermic needle the police found by the victim’s bedside, as Peter assumes his father’s duties.

The police call on Peter to revive George, as he brings along his Indian drug in his black bag and poisons George to make him appear dead. George’s body is delivered to the mortician, Mr. Morton (Lawson), who happens to be good friends with Dr. Blood. But that doesn’t help him live when he barges in on Peter removing the heart from a still alive George.

The only thing that went exactly as expected was how silly it all turned out. Nevertheless, this crude film was at least energetic.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”