Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Screen -- Horror Maniacs (1948)

Tod Slaughter

"Horror Maniacs" is a little tough to watch. Not because of the story line, but because of the remastering of the DVD.  I have a copy of the Alpha Video release, I'll explain the problem in a second.  The story is based on Scotland's real life murderers and grave robbers William Burke and William Hare.  Due to the British censors the names of the characters had to be changed after production of the film.  This left quite distinct gaps in the audio track since it had to be rerecorded with different character names dubbed in. So as the film plays along and it goes from dialogue to no dialogue, it sounds as if the volume is being turned on and off.  This is not an Alpha Video issue, just a production issue in general.

The film stars the uber-melodramatic Tod Slaughter as William Hart, leader of the grave robbing gang.  Anyone who hasn't watched a film starring Mr. Slaughter is in for a real treat.  His performances are usually way over the top, complete with dastardly moustache twirling, sinister laughs, etc., but at the same time he is a delight to watch.  He seems to relish in playing the evil characters that he's portrayed in the Victorian melodramas that he is known for.  One of his frequent co-stars was also his wife Jenny Lynn. 

If you enjoy this film you have to see his portrayal of the title character in "Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (1936).  You won't be disappointed.

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