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Body Snatcher [DVD]


Price: £11.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
Only 9 left in stock (more on the way).
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Product details

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell
  • Directors: Robert Wise
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 11 July 2011
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0051GP9WC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,157 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

First UK DVD release of this 1945 horror from RKO. 3* Halliwell's Guide Rating. Boris Karloff stars in one of his most chilling roles as the sinister 'resurrection man' of old Edinburgh. Medical student Donald Fettes (Russell Wade) is apprentice to Dr. 'Toddy' MacFarlane (Henry Daniell), greatest anatomist of the age. But, as Fettes learns, MacFarlane is not scrupulous how he obtains the bodies he uses for dissection: he buys them from sinister cabman John Gray (Karloff), who robs the graves of the recently deceased. But Gray's grim work has attracted attention and the cemeteries are under watch. Unwilling to give up his lucrative trade, Gray finds another source of corpses - the bodies of people he has killed himself...

Review

A familiar theme very imaginatively handled, and well acted. The best of the Lewton thrillers - *** --Halliwells Film Guide

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ACB(swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER on 24 July 2011
Format: DVD
I first watched this film almost 50 years ago and it scared the pants off me. I have never forgotten the experience, still evoked by repeat viewings, although I am now on the sofa rather than behind and have graduated into long trousers (bicycle clips optional). Based on a Burke and Hare theme from Robert Louis Stevenson's story, producer Val Lewton has created a superb film of gruesome terror with an impeccable cast. Dr 'Toddy' MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) is an eminent surgeon- anatomist and researcher in a medical school in 1830s Edinburgh. He is assisted by his student protege Donald Fettes (Russell Wade). He needs cadavers for his knowledge to progress, the fresher the better rather than stiff. There is a shortage of this material.He pays an unscrupulous cabman,John Gray (Boris Karloff) to supply the dead bodies. With the upsurge in body snatching,graveyards are guarded and Gray compensates for this by selecting and murdering victims for MacFarlane. MacFarlane finds out but Gray knows of the doctor's past misdemeanours giving him the upper hand when MacFarlane tries to bribe him to leave Edinburgh (he refuses). Fettes eventually realises where the material for his dissection classes is coming from and is implored to leave the school before fate befalls him. Macfarlane's servant-janitor, the shifty Joseph (Bela Lugosi) quietly eavesdrops on the daily events and duly tells Gray "I know you kill people to sell bodies", making the mistake of attempting to blackmail Gray. The frustrations of MacFarlane with the perverse Gray lead to a memorable, inevitable clash and film climax.

Authentically shot under Robert Wise's direction, the film depicts a symbiotic relationship between two characters who are motivated by their individual needs.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Nov. 2007
Format: VHS Tape
For a low-budget, B movie horror quickie, The Body Snatcher holds up remarkably well as a tightly-told, well-acted story. The horror is in the situation, not the actors' make-up or the staggering around of corpses. Corpses there are, but they're freshly dug up, and their purpose is not to grasp and choke, but to be dissected by a complex and morally ambiguous surgeon.

Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) is a brilliant surgeon and teacher in 1831 Edinburgh. He is on the verge of medical breakthroughs involving the spine and the spinal cord. For his work, he needs fresh corpses to dissect for his research. John Gray (Boris Karloff), a cabman, provides those corpses for a price. Gray digs up the freshly interred and delivers them to MacFarlane's laboratory in the basement of the doctor's home. If the pickings are thin, Gray will also create a corpse by applying tightly his hand and finger's over a person's nose and mouth. MacFarlane, who is doing genuinely valuable work, doesn't want to know the details. And it seems Gray also has something to hold over MacFarlane. Only two or three years previously, the body snatching work of Burke and Hare had been discovered. Gray kept MacFarlane's use of the bodies a secret. While MacFarlane may be the verge of a break-through, he is repulsed by his need for Gray and by Gray's increasing familiarity. Gray enjoys his power over MacFarlane and pushes his familiarity to the limit. MacFarlane eventually forces a showdown. The climax is a clattering, rolling carriage ride through driving rain, with MacFarlane whipping the horses on, half-mad, and collapsed beside him is the pale, shuddering corpse of...well, see the movie.

For a low-budget film, the movie looks authentic as well as atmospheric.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bernie VINE VOICE on 13 May 2007
Format: VHS Tape
"It is through error that a man tries and rises. It is through tragedy he learns. All the roads of learning begin in darkness and go out into the light." Hippocrates of Gos

This film has the psychological complexity of a Val Lewton production but is a lot more graphic than most of his productions where he just implies violence. He even takes it out on innocent dogs. I feel that some one was pushing Lewton from behind to be more vicious with this film.

A young student (Russell Wade) wants to become a doctor like the great Dr. Wolfe 'Toddy' MacFarlane (Henry Daniell.) Little does he know what it will entail?

The DVD has a voiceover commentary from the late Director Robert Wise who directed "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music." Surprisingly he said that the original basic script was written by Philip MacDonald.
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Format: DVD
Robert Wise was a Hollywood success, a player of much prestige and importance, for a long time - but for the wrong reasons. His obituaries made far more mention of his great financial success with "West Side Story" and "The Sound Of Music" than of those films which are actually his best, and Wise was quite happy to be another high-profile hack and go along with the Hollywood tide, making millions. This very early film in his career, however, suggests a rather different sort of film-maker than the grandstanding mainstreamer who wasted so much time on expensive mediocrities, and reveals skills invisible in most of his better-known efforts. Most of the movies to do with Burke and Hare aim simply for the viscera, for grand guignol effects with little subtlety, but this atmospheric, sad ballad - which finds space, in its brief running time, to incorporate the legend of Greyfriars Bobby - is filled with compassion, even towards the perpetrators of vileness. Boris Karloff's performance as the philosophical murderer is amongst his finest, although Bela Lugosi is under-used and the younger actors in the film are weak (and obviously American). Wise clearly learned the lessons of his producer, Val Lewton, very well; once he was in the big-time, alas, he largely forgot them - only "The Haunting", in 1963, reveals the Lewtonian strengths so apparent in this film. It may very well be that Lewton deserves more of the credit for "The Body Snatcher" than Wise does (he worked anonymously on the script as well as producing); whatever, this is an excellent film.
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