- Directed by Sidney J. Furie
- March /August / November 1961 (unspecified dates in various regions)
People are disappearing in a quiet English town and a mad doctor conducting fiendish experiments is behind it.
For me Doctor Blood’s Coffin was perhaps the fastest turnaround from purchase to viewing of a Blu-ray in a very long time. I have a rather substantial pile of unwatched films which is part of the reason I do this blog. I see a Blu-ray. I want to watch a Blu-ray. I buy a Blu-ray. Then I see more Blu-rays and the cycle begins again and you can only watch so much per day per week. This however moved to the front of the line because of my love for old school horror-especially of the British variety. They tend to have a style and imagination that largely faded from horror by the 80s.
This is a very early 60s color horror film about a nefarious doctor with the last name of Blood (they could not use Bludd?) conducting experiments in a quiet English town. It is nothing too scary (by modern standards), but I give it credit for atmosphere and just plain entertainment value. The acting is not hammy or over the top but rather straightforward and the film has a serious tone with a solid internal logic even if you are left curious about why our villain is doing what he is doing in the way he is doing it.
The film opens at a hospital in Vienna (you can tell by the accent of one of the characters) where our title doctor is garbed head to toe in medical surgical wear and is about to conduct his experiment but is stopped by his mentor.
You do not get a clear look at Dr. Blood (Kieron Moore) here nor in the next couple of minutes. You get shots from behind focusing on the butt (weird) where you are certain it is him or even him in shadow, but you never clearly see Blood until he officially arrives in town and goes to see his dad who is the local doctor of the town of Porthcarron. The way they showed Blood initially was certainly an interesting choice and I was hoping they would continue with it in some fashion for longer in the film than they did. It added a bit of mystery and you could almost convince yourself there was another Doctor Blood behind all this.
This was an English color horror film, and there are certainly bright and contrasting colors throughout. From the make up to the interior sets, everything done is done in strong and striking tones. I find that very appealing about the early color horror films. It is just a style that could not be done these days. This came at a time when the movie industry was going all in on color films and were using the medium in earnest. Color was not new but it was becoming more common.
We have a small but effective cast here. You can practically count the total number of characters on both hands. Then again Doctor Blood’s Coffin was done on the cheap so there was not much money for extra actors. It was reportedly filmed in 10 days on a budget of £25,000. I know inflation has occurred and there is a difference between monetary systems but that seems like very small change.
Blood’s father, Dr. Daddy Blood has a widowed nurse working for him named Linda Parker (Hazel Court). Court was a veteran actress of old school horror and knew what she was doing. Anyway, Son Blood and Nurse Parker begin a romance. We all know at this point that this Doctor Blood is the murderous Doctor Blood. There are moments in the film when he says things that obviously indicate his guilt, but Parker reacts as if they are merely suspicious or odd and not clear indications of him being up to something. How dense is she?
The plot essentially comes down to the usual plot of a scientist blinded by his pursuit of knowledge going against the natural order. In the finale they are standing in front of a red blood red curtain and there are crosses and things that just have a religious vibe. All this while Parker is going on about denying God and worshiping a new idol-science.
For the time the story is not bad. I am just trying to understand why there is so much murder. Dr. Blood is merely trying to conduct some type of organ transplant from those he feels undeserving to those that he believes is deserving. That is bad. It is a little fuzzy to me what the cutting-edge or dangerous science is here. He mentioned about tissue graft rejection when he was telling a slightly fudged version of events at the university but it is never clear what his organ transplant thing is about. This movie came out in 1960 and the first successful organ transplant was in 1954 so organ transplantation was a new but not fantastical concept.
This is a very British film from a time when they were doing some more imaginative horror or science-fiction things. There is just something about these types of films from them at this time that is so appealing and enjoyable. The acting is not bad. In fact that is what largely saves this movie. Perhaps because science has advanced so much and what appears to be the gruesome or fantastical element is relatively commonplace.
Doctor Blood’s Coffin is an enjoyable movie but this more for horror aficionados than the general film audience so I will give this an if you want.