Macabre 1958 – and another similar one

Before the film ‘Macabre’ gets under way in the Cinema – we are warned:

Narrator: Ladies and gentlemen – for the next hour and fifteen minutes, you will be shown things so terrifying that the management of this theatre is deeply concerned for your welfare. Therefore, we request that each of you assume the responsibility of taking care of your neighbour. If anyone near you becomes uncontrollably frightened, will you please notify the management so that medical attention can be rushed to their aid? Please set your watches. It is 6:45 in the evening in a town called Thornton…

William Castle was the Director :

The first of William Castle‘s “gimmick” films. In this one, admission included a $1000 insurance policy against “death by fright” issued by Lloyds of London.

People in a small US town think that a doctor (William Prince) is responsible for the death of his wife due to his incompetence. Someone is so angry about this that they have apparently kidnapped the doctor’s daughter and have buried her alive. The doctor must scramble to figure this one out–and the leads point to her being buried in the cemetery.

William Castle as the Doctor Rodney Barrett and Jacqueline Scott as Nurse Polly Baron

In the late 1950s, director/producer William Castle began releasing horror thrillers with amazing gimmicks- such as electrifying seats and shocking viewers in “The Tingler” or sending skeletons flying over the audience in “The House on Haunted Hill”. “Macabre” was the first of these- with insurance policies on the patrons because the film was supposedly THAT scary. Unfortunately, the film just wasn’t scary!

Some years ago, we went over to the Manchester Opera House to see a play with a plot line not unlike this.

The Play was ‘Dead Simple’ by Peter James and the story was a very frightening one – here is the up-front publicity :-

Michael Harrison had it all: good looks, charm, natural leadership, a wicked sense of humour, and now, Ashley, his fiancée. While out celebrating with a group of friends a few nights before the wedding, Michael suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself enclosed in a coffin equipped only with a flashlight, a dirty magazine, a walkie-talkie, and a tiny breathing tube. It’s all in good fun — payback for the grief his mates suffered due to his own penchant for tomfoolery — that is until the four are killed in a drunk driving accident just moments after leaving Michael completely alone and buried alive.

Detective Superintendent Grace—himself dealing with the pain of losing his wife—is brought on to the case when Ashley reports Michael missing. Suspicions are raised when Michael’s only friend not at the bachelor party refuses to cooperate, and Ashley’s faithfulness—not to mention her increasingly mysterious past—are suddenly thrown in to question. As Superintendent Grace soon discovers, one man’s disaster is another man’s fortune.

‘Dead Sinple’ has been dramatised on ITV Television with John Simm as Inspector Grace

ABOVE and BELOW :  Richie Campbell and John Simm

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