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  1. It sounds kind of pathetic, but I sometimes try and link together two small themes when it comes to selecting my next film - in this case, the theme was Jacqueline Scott, who co-starred as Polly Baron in "Macabre," and also co-starred as Carol Maxwell in "The Galaxy Being," the very first episode of "The Outer Limits." It's a thin, tenuous link, to be sure - not unlike throwing a dart, blindfolded, at a global map to determine your next family vacation, but I wouldn't have discovered "Macabre" without it. "Macabre" was one of the first "huckster" films, where director William Castle gave each patron a $1,000 "frightened-to-death insurance policy" upon entering the theater, written by Lloyd's of London. If anyone died of fright during the film, their beneficiaries got $1,000. There's also a plea at the very beginning to "look out for your neighbor" showing any signs of distress, so that appropriate medical attention can be obtained quickly, and another plea at the end, urging customers not to tell anyone about the film's surprise ending. The campy, promotional aspect of this film is, by far, the most important and historical thing about it; nothing else is of any merit. Although "Macabre" is completely dated, the one thing about it that's not is the basic premise: A man's daughter is kidnapped, and placed into a coffin, where she has about five hours of air before she suffocates. The film is a "race-against-time" pioneer that would be very typical in today's landscape - in that regard, it was truly a groundbreaking movie (although I don't really know whether or not it was the first of its type). Two people whom you may recognize from "Macabre" are Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, and The Millionaire on "Gilligan's Island") and Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton on "The Waltons," whom I've been running into a *lot* in shows aired around the turn of the 50s-60s decades - I've seen her in several anthology series, and have written about her on this website). About 2/3 of the way through the film, I sneak-peaked a look at some reviews in order to get some characters straight (I still don't know the infamous "twist ending"), and Leonard Maltin seems to sum things up nicely when he said, "promises much, delivers little." Despite William Castle's hype about the film (this is apparently the first movie ever to have "gimmick promotion"), this is shaping up strongly to be typical, B-level 1950's suspense (so far, there's very little horror to be found). I found it very difficult to sort through the relationships of the characters in this film, so I'm going to explain them to you here (this is after about thirty minutes of research, and will save you time without ruining anything about the movie). I very much recommend that you read them *before* seeing the movie (if you get the five following bullet points straight in your mind, the movie will be *much* easier to comprehend); nevertheless, since they reveal some relationships - albeit none that harm the plot - I will mark them as spoilers: *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW (SORT OF - THEY'RE MORE HELPFUL THAN HARMFUL) *** * There are three "families" involved, the Wetherbys (Wealthy older man), the Barretts (Doctor), and the Tyloes (Sheriff). * There are two deceased girls, both daughters of the wealthy, older Jode Weatherby. * Alice Wetherby Barrett was one of the daughters, died a few years before, and was married to Dr. Barrett. A nuanced point is that Alice also apparently had a relationship with Sheriff Tyloe before Dr. Barrett took her away from him (this issue is presented very subtly in the film, and is easily missed, but you will notice obvious animosity in how the Sheriff feels about the Doctor). * Nancy Wetherby (Tyloe?), who was blind, was another daughter, died just a few nights ago, and had some sort of relationship with Sheriff Tyloe. I cannot figure out whether or not they were married, but imdb.com implies that they were, perhaps incorrectly (I don't think they were). There is a flashback in the film that shows the relationship between Nancy and Sheriff Tyloe - Nancy is also a girl who sleeps around, and has gotten pregnant by one of her lovers (even she doesn't know who it is). * Marge Barrett (the daughter of Dr. Barrett and Alice) is 3 years old, is Jode Wetherby's granddaughter, and is the one who's kidnapped. *** END MILD SPOILERS *** This movie was neither scary nor suspenseful. Unless you are a hardcore, and I mean hardcore, movie fan, your time is best spent as far away from this drivel as possible. There was almost nothing to like about this movie, and it was one of the worst films I've seen in a long time. But not *the* worst: That honor goes to "Five" (but not by much). To show how much William Castle evolved in ten years, and also to show how much of an influence "Psycho" had on the genre when it came out in 1960, William Castle was the Producer, believe it or not, of the 1968 classic, "Rosemary's Baby."
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