Tall, Dark, and Dead – 86 – Doctor Blood’s Coffin

Title: Doctor Blood’s Coffin
Year: 1961
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Leads: Kieron Moore, Hazel Court, Ian Hunter

Favorite quote: “He has every appearance of death…”

Thoughts: Doctor Blood’s Coffin is a stodgy 60s British horror film – like a bad Hammer – but I ended up really enjoying it. Mostly because I ended up connecting it to advances in real life medicine, and wondering whether or not some of the lines in the movie were ever uttered by the contemporary mainstream media. I know such things have been said by my contemporary mainstream media.

I mean, this movie is totally sixties. The sixties – when even psychotic mad scientists wore impeccably-tailored trousers! The sixties – when promising young doctors smoked like chimneys! And yet, there are several arguments in it – mostly concerning the overreaching abilities of medicine and science – that sound like modern sound bites from FOX News.

Basically, Peter Blood is obsessed with bringing the dead back to life. (If you had to live in his stultifying little British village? You might go crazy, too.) He ends up paralyzing people whom he views as “undesirable,” convincing everyone else that they are dead (shades of voodoo!), so that he might use their organs in his experiments. Specifically, their hearts.

Ultimately this simple bad-guy-bad-no-medical-degree-for-you plot culminates in several very interesting conversations about the nature of his work. This movie was created six years before the first successful human heart transplant, which I think is important to keep in mind. As Dr. Blood and the nurse he’s shagging argue about whether or not he’s playing God, whether or not a dead body is an empty shell or potentially evil once the spark of life has passed from it (and will continue to be once that spark of life is artificially returned), whether or not the reanimated have “permission” from God to go on existing – I couldn’t help but be enthralled. I’m sure there must have been people who made the same arguments, way back when. I mean, there are people making the same arguments today, they’re just about stem cells.

In the end, Linda is proven right – her dead husband, reanimated by Dr. Blood as a giant “I told you so,” attempts to strangle her. But she did call him a creature from hell to his face, so…I find it rather hard to judge him.

Links: Doctor Blood’s Coffin at IMDB
Doctor Blood’s Coffin on Wikipedia

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