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The Body Snatcher (1945).

November 7, 2008

The Scoop:
Boris Karloff is at his best in this Val Lewton chiller (directed by the great Robert Wise), which also features a good performance from Bela Lugosi.

Based on the short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, this is a loose adaptation of the Burke and Hare murders, in which a 19th century Scottish doctor (played by Henry Daniell) must turn to the unscrupulous grave robber Cabman Gray to complete his medical research. As is usually the case, things quickly get out of hand when the local graveyard runs short of corpses and bodies must be obtained by more nefarious means.

Karloff has never been more menacing, and he does more than anyone to carry the film to its exciting climax. Like all of Lewton’s best work, “The Body Snatcher” is a humble masterpiece.

Best Bit:
That edge-of-your-seat ending.

Side Note:
This was the last of Karloff and Lugosi’s eight screen pairings, and one of the best.

Companion Viewing:
“The Black Cat” (1934).

1,000 Misspent Hours.
American Film Institute.
The screenplay.

Take a Look:
The trailer (as seen on TCM):

Gray is a bad, bad man. (Warning: Not safe for dog lovers):

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