Sometimes you see the cast of a film and expect a pleasurable viewing experience. How many times are you disappointed? Then there’s the title. Do you think about the titles of the films you watch? Sometimes a title is just a title and has nothing to do with the film. At the same time, a cast can be just that, a cast. Nothing more, nothing less. What about a title that actually describes the film? What about a cast that isn’t just a cast? The cast in question contains several top names, plus an orange tabby cat who gets his own credit and plenty of screen time. A film from a bygone age of Hollywood. Produced by a small company, and the film doesn’t feel like a low budget B-reel. It’s neither too serious, nor campy in hindsight. All the pieces fall in place to create a most enjoyable viewing experience. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to American International Pictures (AIP) 1963 comedy tale of horror, The Comedy of Terrors.
Damn you, TCM, you’ve given me yet another film to add to my collection. To be fair, it isn’t exactly TCM’s fault. They just aired it. I blame this film for being so good. Within the first 10-15 minutes it looked like something to add to my collection. The rest of the film didn’t disappoint. I suppose I should really say damn you Richard Matheson for creating such a good story and writing a humorous and engaging screenplay. Who’s Richard Matheson? He wrote many short stories that became Twilight Zone episodes, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet among them. He also wrote novels, other screenplays, you name it, mostly in horror and science-fiction. Oh, and Stephen King credits him as his main influence.
The actors are also to blame for my enjoyment of this film. Wait until you see who’s in The Comedy of Terrors. Vincent Price. Boris Karloff. Basil Rathbone. Orangey the cat, also known as Rhubarb. The orange tabby I mentioned earlier playing the family cat Cleopatra. Last and never least in the second lead role to Price is a personal favorite of mine. The great Peter Lorre plays the creepy assistant as only he can. To begin with, he looks like a creepy guy and has a certain delivery to his dialogue and you know immediately who the actor is. Plus, he’s got a low key comedic element he can add to any role. A keen combination of delivery, presentation, expressions, and timing. Both Lorre and Karloff have Vincent Price to play off of as the straight man, and Price adds a touch of humor along the way as well.
Though this is a horror comedy, it’s more of comedy than horror. A dark, or black comedy in a way due to the overall story and theme. Some people might hear dark comedy and think it’s full of offensive material. This is 1963 folks, nothing offensive here thanks to the Hollywood censors at the time. No blood, nudity, or foul language. The Comedy of Terrors doesn’t take itself too serious and offers up laughs throughout the film. I know I understated Vincent Price in the lead role, but come on, it’s Vincent Price. What more can I say?
Did I mention a cat gets a credit and plenty of screen time? That’s one you don’t see often. Did I mention how great Peter Lorre is? I’m kind of a big fan of his. I’m kind of a big fan of this film as well.
Copyright © Drew Martin 2016