The Body Snatcher

The Body Snatcher (1945) movie poster

(1945) dir. Robert Wise
viewed: 05/24/06

This film appears as a companion on the DVD for I Walked with a Zombie (1943), part of the Val Lewton collection. Directed by Robert Wise, director of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and The Sound of Music (1965) among many others, it is like other Lewton films, a cut above the period’s genre films while remaining pretty low budget.

Based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, it is a mostly “realistic” horror film about grave-robbing and the cultivation of the science of anatomy but ultimately murder as well. It features a prime performance by Boris Karloff and a sad and diminished role for Bela Lugosi.

Again, I was struck with how this film and I Walked with a Zombie both prefigure some of the better work of Roger Corman in the 1960’s with Vincent Price, who also goes back to 19th Century Gothic horror to cull for subject matter for their films. It’s a tight film, dark and creepy, but also interesting historically regarding the development of science. It’s good stuff. I mean it.

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