THE LiViNG COFFiN
(aka SCREAM OF DEATH)
(1965), Color, 72 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Presented by Young America Productions
Produced at Soundlab, Coral Gables, Fla.
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Manuel San Fernando
This is one of the few Mexi-Murray “horror” pictures to feature a pre-credits teaser (a shirtless man, covered in blood, stumbles through a skeleton-infested swamp, and falls to the ground, dead), which appears to have nothing to do with the plot, but is effective in creating whatever atmosphere this meager flick has to offer. (Actually, it may be that the man is one of Chloe’s sons, who died a horrible death in the swamps and whose death precipitated her own breakdown.)
Titles roll over a creepy/primitive graphic of a cartoon skeleton laying on a prairie. One wonders if these charmingly cheesy graphics were designed by Murray & Company, or were the graphics for the original Mexican verison.
Otherwise, this is a lame, lame, lame entry in the Mexi-Murray sweepstakes, fun in a rip-off sorta way, talky and silly and corny to a fault, but probably unwatchable to anyone under 30! Hooray! Essentially a murder mystery set in a Western tableau, TLC has little in the way of horror to offer, other than the generally creepy notion of being buried alive, and the rarely-seen “Crying Ghost”.
This flick has alot in common with THE SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTERS, including the star (Santos), the Western motif, the rare use of color, and the fake-out ending.
In its own way, the film is visually beautiful, with its grainy color pallete consisting of shades of red and blue, reminiscent of a 40’s poverty row B-movie filmed in two-strip Cinecolor.
But the Western setting, as well as the talky, convoluted plot, makes for rough going. For instance, an extended barroom brawl looks like it could have been lifted from any number of 40’s American B-Westerns.
And the star, Santos, is pretty ridiculous in his little rawhide Cowboy suit and scarf and hat, looking more like a escapee from a gay Halloween party than a bonafide macho hero.
Santos’ sidekick (the same sidekick he had in SWAMP) is just as lazy and shiftless and chicken as in the other film, sort of a Mexican Gabby Hayes. All he wants to do here is sleep through the whole thing; foreshadowing the sentiment of the audience perhaps?
On the plus side, there’s a nice, spooky village Main Street set, and a cheesy painting of the dead Aunt Ghostie, as well as the usual dank and spooky catacombs sets.
The unmasking ending is so similar to that in THE SWAMP OF LOST MONSTERS, one can see this as its companion piece, and be thankful one wasn’t lured into a double bill of these two red-n-blue stinkers!
-Rob Craig, kgordonmurray.com
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!