Movie Review: Comedy of Terrors (1963)

Synopsis: After marrying his elderly business partner's daughter, Waldo Trumbull, an alcoholic funeral director, has nearly run his funeral parlor business into the ground. With the help of his criminal henchman, the unscrupulous Trumbull tries to drum up additional business by murdering prospective clients. However, his plans don't work out as well as he hoped, especially when he tries to kill a man who simply will not die.

Who's in it? The movie stars Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Joyce Jameson.

Review: I came across this movie a couple days ago and, mostly because many of my favorite classic film actors were in it, I decided to add it to my library. I had an opportunity to watch it last night and early this morning. After seeing it, I am sad to say I didn't like it nearly as much as I thought I would.

I am going to start out by saying the one thing this movie did right was the casting. Had it not been for the stars of the movie, I honestly don't think I would have gotten past the first 15 minutes. Rathbone, in particular, is fantastic as Trumbull's (Price) landlord and intended victim, John. F. Black. He brings a great deal of energy to the character and really stands out as a result. Karloff also does a great job as Trumbull's oblivious business partner and father-in-law. I think his scenes were some of the funniest in the movie.

I think my biggest problem with this film is, while it was an OK comedy, I do feel like it would have been better as an actual horror film. Part of this is because of the cast, which just screams horror movie. The other part of it is the film, felt a little bogged down by the comedy during certain points, especially some of the slapstick stuff, rather than keeping the focus on what was a fairly unique idea. And, let's face it, when you hear the name Vincent Price, you aren't expecting him to be in a movie that, at times, seemed much more like something you would expect to see the Three Stooges in.

I also feel like the movie could have done more with Trumbull's wife, Amaryllis (Jameson). She seemed like such a tragic character, a woman with big dreams who was stuck in a loveless marriage with an abusive drunk, but the movie doesn't do enough to make her seem like much more than a background character. I would have loved to see the movie do something that made her a bit more memorable.

Final Opinion: Again, it's an OK comedy and, in all honesty, I didn't hate it. I just feel, with the cast's vast horror movie experience, the writers could have made this a much darker film and it would have been more entertaining as a result.

My Grade: C+


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