Tod Slaughter

Active - 1936 - 1952  |   Born - Mar 19, 1885   |   Died - Feb 19, 1956   |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Mystery, Horror

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Biography by Hal Erickson

There was never any doubt as to the intentions of the characters played by bravura British actor Todd Slaughter. From the moment he lumbered into view, waggling his eyebrows, rubbing his hands in satanic glee, and giggling maniacally in his low, rumbling voice, you knew the old duffer was up to no good. After years of trodding the boards under a variety of stage names, Slaughter hit upon the gimmick of reviving some of the mustiest old stage melodramas ever perpetrated on the British public. Audiences were delighted, thus encouraging Slaughter to continue in this chop-licking vein. That he never truly took himself seriously is evident in Slaughter's first film, 1935's Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn, which was introduced in the manner of a Victorian stage play, with the actors, framed by a false proscenium decorated with flickering footlights, taking grandiose bows as they were energetically introduced by a bombastic "manager." Slaughter's subsequent films, their tone and content implicit in their titles, included Sweeney Todd, Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1935), The Face at the Window (1939), The Curse of the Wraydons (1943, in which Slaughter played none other than Jack the Ripper), The Greed of William Hart (1948) and Murder at Scotland Yard (1952). A barnstormer's barnstormer, Tod Slaughter had the distinction of being "camp" before the term was invented.

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