Monday, June 9, 2008


You know what I hate almost as much as needlessly long shot-on-video suckfests? Zombie movies that keep its zombies off-screen until the final minutes of the picture. God, that irritates the hell out of me. Like fellow offender THE WOMAN EATER, 1961's DOCTOR BLOOD'S COFFIN is a British film about a scientist out to revive the dead through unorthodox experiments (although unlike that movie, it doesn't require anything as elaborate as a woman-eating tree) that waits until the goddamn end to unleash its living dead. It's also as dreadfully boring as THE WOMAN EATER, drowning the audience in a sea of never-ending conversations. (At least BOWERY AT MIDNIGHT, which literally saved its zombies for its closing two minutes, made up the difference with a wildly busy plot.)

Directed by Sidney J. Furie (who'd go on to direct the IRON EAGLE films and SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE) and boasting one "Nick Roeg" as camera operator, the film stars Kieron Moore as Dr. Blood--an apt moniker for a mad scientist--who returns to the sleepy English village where he grew up and immediately starts using the local populace as unwitting subjects for his experiments. This could've been a good point to start an interesting horror film from, but the humdrum screenplay never goes much further than that, instead devoting more time to Moore's budding romance with Hazel Court than the reanimation of the dead. Even the brief visits to the lab are tame and suspense-free, with Moore's aborted attempts doing little more than fluttering their eyelids; I realize we're quite a ways from David Gale carrying his head around in a medical bag, but would it have hurt to have Blood's victims maybe try to be scary?

COFFIN also relies far too heavily on tired concepts of the mad-scientist genre (even opening with one, as Blood trots out the same rationale for his unconventional experiments). It also throws in a clunky religious debate for its climax, as Court condemns Moore for what he's done--though Blood, like his fellow lab rats, is an arrogant monomaniac driven to achieve greatness by his ego than a commitment to science. (The film tries to demonize Blood further by having him use the expendable working class so that can save more "worthy" people like artists and philosophers, but it's a transparent ploy that comes too late to accomplish anything.)

You're better off sticking with a third-rate Frankenstein film.

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