The Oblong Box (1969)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Horror, Gothic Film  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - UK, USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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The Oblong Box isn't exactly good but it can be fun for horror fans in the right mood. Make no mistake, this is a potboiler: Lawrence Huntington's script is crammed with incident, throwing a murder, a brawl or a bit of bawdiness at the viewer every few minutes as it rushes headlong through its overstuffed plot. Gordon Hessler gives the story an appropriately intense style of direction, using John Coquillon's atmospheric photography to nice effect as he puts the story through its murderous paces. Neither Vincent Price nor Christopher Lee has much to work with in terms of character but they give it their all: Price had the 'tortured noble with a secret' act down pat by this time and puts his dark charisma to work in a effective manner here while Lee does subtler work, affecting a tone of sneering nastiness as he indulges in skullduggery while looking down on his less-wealthy accomplices. The end result runs out of steam near the end (the climax is rather perfunctory after all the buildup it gets) but it's entertaining while its rolling along and horror vets will get a kick out of Price and Lee's work, even if they never really get to share a proper scene together. In short, The Oblong Box is a minor but reasonably entertaining entry in American International Pictures' cycle of Poe adaptations and a decent way to kill a slow Saturday afternoon for the classic horror buff.