STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (director/writer: Frank Wisbar; screenwriters: Harold Erickson/Leo J. McCarthy; cinematographer: James S. Brown Jr.; editor: Hugh Winn; music: Alexander Steinert; cast: Robert H. Barrat (Chris Sanders, the father), Rosemary La Planche (Maria), Blake Edwards (Chris Sanders), Charles B. Middleton (Ferryman Douglas), Martina Sanders (Effie Parnell), Nolan Leary (Pete Jeffers); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR producer: Raoul Pagel; Sony (PRC); 1946)
“An enticing atmospheric ghost story set in a lonely swamp.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
German expatriate director Frank Wisbar(“Commando”/”Wet Asphalt”/”Lighthouse”), who fled the Nazis in the 1930s, helms this extremely low-budget poverty-row film. It’s an enticing atmospheric ghost story set in a lonely swamp. It’s filmed in the studio. The cult film is a remake of his Fahrmann Maria (1936). Along with the director, Harold Erickson and Leo J. McCarthy co-write the screenplay. Its star is the beautiful Rosemary La Planche (Miss America 1941). She plays Maria, whose grandfather is a ferry captain named Douglas (Charles Middleton) accused of a murder he did not commit. After the ferryman is hanged without any hard evidence, she moves to the island and takes over his job. The job calls for her to pull a wooden platform across the swamp when transporting passengers. Meanwhile the superstitious natives are frightened of the noose still hanging from the tree, because they believe it’s cursed.
Maria’s love interest, Chris, is played by the future Pink Panther director Blake Edwards. Chris happens to be the son of one of the men who hung her grandfather. When a number of other island males are found strangled, the belief circulating is the hanged man is seeking revenge from beyond the grave. In the exciting climax, the ghost “strangler” grabs Chris and Maria tells the ghost she is willing to sacrifice her life to save her boyfriend.
Despite how cheaply it was made, this is a decent horror B film that’s handled with style, a reasonable amount of intelligence and offers plenty of thrills.
REVIEWED ON 2/3/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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