Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mini-review of Strangler of the Swamp, a great '40s PRC chiller

This is a fabulous film, perhaps Producer Releasing Corporations best, along with Bluebeard, although I have a soft spot for The Devil Bat. The 1946 film is lean, just under and hour, directed by Frank Wisbar. It's based on a French film. The atmosphere is incredible. The swamp is other-wordly, and the rural Americans seem toexist in another time and world. Charles Middleton, the gaunt, frightening Strangler, was the Emporer Ming in the old Flash Gordon serials. Rosemary LaPlanche, former Miss America, has a purity an innocence that connects to the vengeful Strangler. A young, later to be famous as a director/writer Blake Edwards, is good as LaPlanche's love interest. Rural locals in the film are well cast as well. (LaPlanche later starred in PRC's weird "sequel" to "The Devil Bat," "Devil Bat's Daughter. Here is a small capsule review I wrote for "Strangler of the Swamp" as part of a column for The Standard-Examiner and later Plan 9 Crunch's main blog:

"Strangler of the Swamp" — Made in 1948, this atmospheric thriller involves a man, hanged for a murder he didn't commit, who returns as a ghost and assumes the role of ferryman at the swamp. Instead of ferrying passengers, he strangles locals in revenge. Finally, a young woman (Rosemary LaPlanche) prepares to offer herself as a sacrifice to get the ghost to leave. The strangler (Charles Middleton) was "Emperor Ming" in the old "Flash Gordon" serials.

As mentioned, a great 40s C genre film, better than most A productions of that time. Don't miss it!
-- Doug Gibson

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