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The Oblong Box (1969)

aka The Oblong Box

"Some things are better left buried."

Directed By: 
Details: 91 mins · English


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Small Sir Julian Markham
Small Dr. J. Neuhartt
Small Joshua Kemp
No_movie_poster Heidi
No_movie_poster Sally Baxter
No_movie_poster Sir Edward Markham
No_movie_poster Samuel Trench
No_movie_poster Lady Elizabeth Markham


Small Edgar Allan Poe Story
No_movie_poster Gordon Hessler Director
No_movie_poster Lawrence Huntington Screenplay
No_movie_poster Christopher Wicking Dialogue
No_movie_poster Gordon Hessler Production
Small Edgar Allan Poe Story Contributor
No_movie_poster Max Benedict Editing


"Some things are better left buried."


The film takes place in England in 1865. Having been grotesquely disfigured in an African voodoo ceremony for a transgression against the native populace, Sir Edward Markham (Alister Williamson) is kept locked in his room by his guilt-ridden brother, Julian (Vincent Price). Tiring of his captivity, Sir Edward plots to escape by faking his death. With the help of the crooked family lawyer, Trench (Peter Arne), they hire witchdoctor N'Galo (Harry Baird) to concoct a drug to put Sir Edward into a death-like trance. Before Trench has time to act, Julian finds his 'dead' brother and puts him in the oblong box. Embarrassed by his brother's appearance, Julian asks Trench to find a proxy body for Sir Edward's lying in state. Trench and N'Galo murder landlord Tom Hacket (Maxwell Shaw) and offer his corpse to Julian. After the wake, Trench and his young companion Norton (Carl Rigg), dispose of Hacket's body in a nearby river, while Julian has Sir Edward buried. Now free of his brother, Julian marries his young fiance, Elizabeth (Hilary Dwyer), while Trench, Norton and N'Galo go their separate ways.

Sir Edward is left buried alive until he is dug up by graverobbers and delivered to Dr. Neuhartt (Christopher Lee). Neuhartt opens the oblong box and is confronted by the resurrected Sir Edward. With his first-hand knowledge of his illegal activities, Sir Edward blackmails the doctor into sheltering him. Sir Edward then conceals his face behind a crimson hood and embarks on a vengeful killing spree.

Norton is first on Sir Edward's list and has his throat slit. In between killings, Sir Edward finds time to romance Neuhartt's maid Sally (Sally Geeson), but when Neuhartt finds out about their affair, he discharges Sally and she goes to work for Julian. While searching for Trench, he is sidetracked by a couple of drunks who drag him into a nearby tavern. Here he ends up with prostitute Heidi (Uta Levka), who tries to roll him for his money, only to be killed by Sir Edward's knife. The police get involved, and the hunt is on for a killer in a crimson hood.

Meanwhile, Julian has become suspicious about the body which Trench supplied to him, after his friend Kemp (Rupert Davies) finds it washed up on a riverbank. Julian confronts Trench, who tells him the truth about Sir Edward's 'death'. Soon after, Trench is dispatched by Sir Edward, but not before he tells him the whereabouts of N'Galo. Hoping he will cure him of his disfigurement, Sir Edward asks N'Galo for his help. Here Sir Edward learns the truth about his time in Africa- in a case of mistaken identity he was punished for his brother's crime of killing an African child. N'Galo fails to cure Sir Edward, and they fight, N'Galo stabbs Sir Edward and is rewarded with a face full of hot tar. Sir Edward returns to Neuhartt's home, where Neuhartt tends to his wound. Mistrusting Neuhartt's medical treatment, Sir Edward fatally wounds him and sets off to confront his brother.

Back at the Markham ancestral home, Julian learns the whereabouts of his brother from Sally and leaves for Dr. Neuhartt's home, only to find him near death. Meanwhile, Sir Edward arrives back home to find Sally, who is repulsed by her former lover's killing. Sir Edward drags her out onto the grounds of the house, pleading for her love. Julian arrives back home and gives chase with a shotgun. Out on the grounds, Sally snatches Sir Edward's hood from him and his deformed face is revealed for the first time. Julian catches up and Sir Edward confronts him about his crime. As Sir Edward lurches forward, Julian shoots him. Cradling the dying Sir Edward in his arms, Julian is bitten by him.

Once again in his oblong box, Sir Edward is resurrected by a vengeful N'Galo (who wanted to get back at him for attacking him and splashing hot tar on his face), but this time he is six feet under with no hope of escape. While back at the Markham mansion, Julian is occupying his brother's old room, where he is beginning to show the first signs of the voodoo curse.