The Film (3.5/5)
With the excellent Tombs of Ligeia director and producer Roger Corman would end his series of Edgar Allan Poe films. That did not stop the studio behind the series, American International Pictures, from making Poe branded films. These films rarely had anything to do with Poe, and included Michael Reeves Witchfinder General re-branded in the U.S. as the Conqueror Worm and this film the Gordon Hessler directed, The Oblong Box
The Oblong Box stars Vincent Price as Julian Markham the brother of Sir Edward Markham (Alastair Williamson) who was disfigured and thought killed by a voodoo tribe on one of the brothers explorations. Julian now keeps the disfigured and insane Edward locked up in a room inside his home as punishment for his actions on the island. Edward, however, fed up with being a prisoner within his brother's home fakes his own death to escape. Through some Burke and Hare-esque conditions Edward's not quite dead body ends up in the position of Dr. Neuhartt (Christopher Lee) who he blackmails with the information that Neuhartt is using illegal dead bodies in his experiments, and uses his assistance to go on a killing spree and seek revenge against those that have done him wrong.
The Oblong Box is the first film to have the on-screen pairing of the 2 horror legends Christopher Lee and Vincent Price though truth be told they are on screen together less than one minute. The film itself is a decent little thriller from Hessler that certainly feels like something in the AIP-Price mold while certainly not reaching the heights of the Corman-Poe films. The minimalist Crimson hood mask that Edward utilizes as he kills is certainly quite a bit chilling and memorable, and the film has some solid scares to boot. The performances from Lee and Price are solid, the remaining cast also perform the material quite well. Hessler creates a solid atmosphere with a more measured pacing that leaves the film dragging in spots, but makes up for it with a solid third act.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents Gordon Hessler's The Oblong Box in a solid 1080p AVC encoded transfer in it's original 1:85:1 aspect ratio. This a very pleasing transfer with nice bright colors, solid detail, and deep blacks. The grain structure is natural, but never overwhelming. There is some damage from the source material, but it's never overly distracting.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in English. The track is quite solid with dialogue and score being audible throughout, and no pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Kino Lorber has given a nice few extra features on their release of the Oblong Box including a commentary track by Steve Halberman, a short film version of Annabel Lee with narration by Vincent Price, and the trailer for the film.
Not really a Poe adaptation, nonetheless a solid AIP chiller from director Gordon Hessler featuring nice turns from Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. The Blu-ray provides a solid audio track, and nice transfer and some good extra features. RECOMMENDED.