Oblong Box, The (1969)

The Oblong Box (1969), produced and directed by Gordon Hessler.

After suffering unspeakable torture and mutilation in Africa, a plantation owner is kept chained in his room by his brother. It's for his own good. The insane inmate devises a cunning plan -- again using African magic -- to simulate death and escape via premature burial. What could go wrong? Well, what could go right?

Brother Edward wears a unsettling crimson mask throughout. We don't see The Face until 1h30m in; honestly it's not that bad.

The title is Poe's, not the story, although it does use plenty of his standard devices. A plot twist gives a counter-cultural slant: the colonials are the guilty ones and the Africans their innocent victims. Everyone says this pro-black sentiment caused the picture to be banned in Texas; is that true? Sounds like a story.

This the second of three matches of Vincent Price with Hilary Heath (Dwyer); the others are Witchfinder General (1968) and Cry of the Banshee (1970). John Coquillon photographed all three; he later worked with Peckinpah.

Featuring 19 year old Sally Geeson, looking much like her sister Judy:


The first big feature film by the director, who had worked for Alfred Hitchcock for many years. He was producing this and stepped in as director when Michael Reeves, director of Witchfinder General (1968), become unavailable because of mental instability and suicide attempts (he finally did kill himself shortly after).

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. This is the director's cut. Lots of commentary overlap with Cry of the Banshee (1970).