Written by: Carroll Jenkins on August 21st, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: UK, June 1959
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Jimmy Sangster
Cast: Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Arnold Marlé, Delphi Lawrence, Francis De Wolff, Gerda Larsen, Middleton Woods, Michael Ripper
DVD released: July 1st, 2008
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Legend Films/Paramount Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
Synopsis: A 104 year old man who looks to be 35 reaches a crisis when his ‘younger’ accomplice becomes too old to perform the periodically required Parathyroid gland transplant. Meanwhile a Scotland Yard detective is snooping around because of a missing girl who was the apparent victim of a doctor who sculpts young women, has a private showing, and then disappears (as do the young ladies) every ten years.
If it sounds convoluted, it is. Hammer had great success with color remakes of classic horror movies, and though the primary source is a play, the film also combines elements of Picture Of Dorian Gray, House Of Wax, and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. The film is very talky and feels stage bound. The Dr. Jeckyll bit seems thrown in just to provide a little action, which is desperately needed.
The performances, and especially the lead, are all lackluster. Even Christopher Lee sleepwalks through this one. The brightest performance is that of Hazel Court. She purportedly filmed a topless scene for European release. Too bad that hasn’t been uncovered.
The pre-title sequence looks pretty terrible, but once the credits conclude the picture instantly improves ten-fold. There are instances of weird colour, such as greenish hues from the formula which look effective. No subtitles, but close captions are included.
The Man Who Could Cheat Death doesn’t exactly cheat the viewer, but it is definitely a lesser Hammer horror from the classic era.