APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Arnold (1973)

April 10: Nightmare USA — Celebrate Stephen Thrower’s book by picking a movie from it. Here’s all of them in a list.

Lord Arnold Dwellyn (Norman Stuart) has just married Karen (Stella Stevens), which would not be all that strange except that, well, he’s dead. He’s not buried, as per his will, if Karen wants to inherit all that he owns, she must never leave his mansion and leave him in state. That doesn’t mean that she’s taking it easy, as she’s been having an affair with Arnold’s brother Robert (Roddy McDowall). And umm, how did Arnold get married when he has a widow, Lady Jocelyn (Shani Wallis)? I guess it really is until death do you part, right?

There’s money hidden in the walls, though, but whenever anyone gets close to it, Arnold has already planned for it, knowing how each person will react and coming up with a death trap created just for them, like some kind of Dr. Phibes without the years of medical school. Only Arnold’s sister Hester (Elsa Lanchester, once a Bride) seems to benefit from all of this, but her luck can’t last.

Shot at the same time as Terror in the Wax Museum with most of the same cast — Lanchester, Wallis, Steven Marlo, Patric Knowles, Shani Ben Wright and Leslie Thompson — this didn’t hit right with me at first. It felt like a long black out sketch from Night Gallery. Yet the more I think about it, well, I keep thinking about this movie. I mean, what other movie finds roles for Victor Buono, Bernard Fox, Farley Granger and Jamie Farr? How many fog machines did it take to make this? And wow, it was produced by Bing Crosby Productions?

Directed by Georg Fenady, who other than this and the aforementioned Terror in the Wax Museum mainly worked in TV and written by Jameson Brewer (who did write The Incredible Mr. Limpet) and John Fenton Murray (whose credits include Sid and Marty Krofft shows and Partridge Family 2200 AD), this feels like something made in between episodes of other shows. Yet it has some weird charm that keeps bringing me back to it. Maybe it’s the Shani Walls theme at the end?

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