Macabre (1958)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Mar 1, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 73 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Macabre is deservedly well known for its audacious advertising campaign (the old insurance policy if you die of fright slant). As a film, it's at best an average affair, certainly one of the lesser William Castle "fright-fests." In fact, Macabre is not even a true horror movie, although it gets classified as one all the time. At heart, Macabre is much more of a suspenser -- albeit not one that's as nail-biting as it wants to be. The general premise is perfectly fine -- a child has been kidnapped by a maniac. He says she's been buried alive, and the forces of good have only a few hours to find her and rescue her before her air runs out and she dies. Unfortunately, having established a "racing against the clock" set up that should guarantee tension, writer Robb White goes into a lot of flashbacks that dilute the impact and slow things down terribly. Still, Macabre has a few good setpieces that, through surprise and shock, do manage to produce a decent number of chills. Castle's direction is competent, but not inspired enough; he benefits from fine assistance from cinematographer Carl Guthrie. While not as good as one wants it to be, Macabre has enough high points to make it worth a look.