Director: Jaques Tourneur
Cast: Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone
Running Time: 84 Minutes
I was really pleased to be able to revisit this classic gem after so many years. Starring horror legends Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, THE COMEDY OF TERRORS is one of the most silly and fun 84 minutes you will have. Price plays Waldo Trumball, an alcoholic undertaker with very little business and a huge debt to his landlord. Lorre plays his bumbling assistant Felix Gillie and is forced into a murderous plot to kill their landlord and drum up more business. SHERLOCK HOLMES actor Basil Rathbone plays landlord Mr. Black who loves nothing more than reciting Macbeth and suffers from a rather unusual condition…
Price is wonderful as the devious undertaker who delivers his lines with just the right amount of dry wit. Pairing him with Lorre is a genius move as Price’s highly strung theatrics and Lorre’s stillness really goes well together. Special mention should be given to Boris Karloff who plays Price’s hard of hearing father-in-law. Crippled with arthritis at the time, his performance is magical and he really does get the last laugh in the film.
However Rathbone really stands out in a performance that is right up there with his fantastic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Rathbone’s Mr. Black is hilarious with his extremely animated character quirks of speedily reciting Macbeth every chance he gets. The amount of work he put into his performance must have been vast and his delivery is spot on without being too over-the-top
Coming from Jaques Tourneur, who was responsible for the groundbreaking CAT PEOPLE, the direction on THE COMEDY OF TERRORS shows he has the perfect sense of comedic timing. The schlocky gothic sets seem to scream Roger Corman, maybe no coincidence as Price and writer Richard Matheson had worked with Corman several times, including THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM in the same year.
THE COMEDY OF TERRORS is a little gem that you can watch over and over again without being bored. It’s such a treasure that it has been finally released on Blu-ray as the film has been restored beautifully. THE COMEDY OF TERRORS is the perfect blend of macabre humour and atmospheric slapstick with a stellar cast, what more could you want?
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by MGM
- Original Mono 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio Commentary with author and film historian David Del Valle and cult director David DeCoteau
- Vincent Price: My Life and Crimes – The previously unreleased, alternate cut of the 1987 David Del Valle/Vincent Price interview in which the actor looks back over his extraordinary career
- Whispering in Distant Chambers: The Nightfall of Jacques Tourneur – A specially commissioned video essay by David Cairns looking at the various themes and stylistic motifs which reappear throughout the director’s work
- Richard Matheson Storyteller – An archive interview with the Comedy of Terrors writer
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Fujiwara, author of Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall
THE COMEDY OF TERRORS is released on Blu-ray via Arrow Video from the 16th February.