The true king of horror!
Movie Lover: Christopher Marton
Boston - Lincs
-- October, 3, 2006
Many of Yod,s melodramas like Maria Marten and The Face at the Window had been filmed numerous times since the dawn of British cinema. But in partnership with quota quickie producer George King, Tod stepped in front of film cameras for the first time to capture his signature role of Squire William Corder on celluloid.
Milton Rossmer handled directorial chores on this one instead of King and the difference shows. The camera is relatively mobile and seeks a number of interesting angles - especially as it prowls around the red Barn as Tod prepares to shoot the luckless Maria. Production values and period design are relatively high for what is in essence one of the much-derided quota-quickies. Tod is the central figure and a sympathetic, multi-faceted role for all his evil. At the opening barn dance, he is the life-and-soul of the party and ensures that all his guests are enjoying themselves as he cuts a merry caper on the dance floor. The flighty Maria is much taken with him - and who can blame her when the only alternative is the sullen Carlos the Gypsy. Far from being the callow young suitor who normally opposed Tod's leering baddies, Carlos is impulsive and a bit too handy with a knife for comfort. His pursuit of the uninterested Maria verges on stalking and Eric Portman plays him with an authority that matches Tod. The confrontation in the drawing room between the 2 men after Corder has received his dowry is an interesting conflict of two differing acting styles and I had to admire the way Corder was able to signal for help despite been at the mercy of Carlos. Tod Slaughter also demonstrates what a skilled comedy actor he was with some amusing interludes as he loses heavily at dice to a suavely-sleazy Dennis Hoey His facial contortions are a joy, as is his swindling of idiot Tim Winterbottom and his scarcely-concealed repulsion from his intended - the big-nosed Psalmist. By the end of the 30's, Tod's acting style was, even then, regarded as pass? and a bit of a joke. He was often reduced to performing shortened dramatic acts on stage on the ABC cinema circuit. Nonetheless, he kept active throughout his life (American soldiers stationed in Belfast during the war seeing him on stage didn't know what to make of him). It is high time he received his due as a true original of the British cinema.
Slaughter's first and one of his best
Movie Lover: call me Z
somewhere out there
-- May, 12, 2006
Tod Slaughter is an evil squire who gets a local girl pregnant. He tries to keep it a secret because he has gambling debts and intends to marry a rich woman to pay them off, so he tries to frame a Gypsy who's been in love with the girl. When she threatens to tell that he's the one, he lures her into a barn and kills her and buries her. But you know there's no way a guy as evil as him is going to get away with it. This was Slaughter's first starring role and is a good showcase for his maniacal hammy acting style (he makes Bela Lugosi look like a picture of restraint), which led to more crazy-killer roles. The film's pretty effective even though the style is very creaky (the opening prologue even includes an introduction of all the principal characters, like a stage play). Worth checking out, especially since Tod's films are too rarely seen these days.