"I must be rid of you. You've become a cancer, a malignant evil cancer rotting my mind!"
The Body Snatcher (1945) is a horror film about what is right and moral and what one needs to do for the good of others. The story revolves around a Dr. MacFarlane and his new pupil, Donald Fettes. Fettes quickly meats a Cabman by the name of John Gray who has some kind of history with MacFarlane, but the Doctor won't speak of it, and Fettes realizes there's something very strange about how Dr. MacFarlane gets the bodies for his dissections from Mr. Gray.
I really like this story a lot, this is probably due to the fact that it's based on a short story by Robert Luis Stevenson (author of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Treasure Island.) It's a very, very dark story that was inspired by the true events of the Burke and Hare Murders and has a very Poe-esque feel to it.
And while the sets really aren't that amazing compared to many of this movie's day, this film has them lit perfectly in each scene. There's a whole lot of really great mood and darkness that is accomplished in this film way better than most of the Universal Horror movies of the era.
I must warn you this is a pretty slow film. Audiences today might not be able to deal with how slow it is, but it is all for a purpose: to set the mood. This is a very moody film. It takes lots of time to dwell on shots, show the quiet of the night or how a character is feeling and all this is done amazingly with limited soundtrack use! All this isn't really a negative I'm just giving fair warning, but if you are patient the second half of the film will definitely pay off and reward those who can wait.
The setting of this film really ties into the theme which I thought was amazing. Set in 1831, this is a time when the new advances in Science require some bending of the morals that have chained society for hundreds of years. This is something I don't see too much these days and I really enjoyed how it was used in this film.
I really loved all of the characters in this film, they're all very well defined and very likable (each in their own way), but the stand out role in this film is the Cabman Mr. Gray played by Boris Karloff. Karloff is absolutely amazing in this role, he plays it in such a crazy sinister way, but also has a very humorous approach to it so that you almost like the guy! It's a trip, and this film is absolutely worth watching just for Karloff's performance.
A special shout out to my friend Chase for recommending this film to me, it's a great find. The Body Snatcher (1945) is a film that's often unfortunately overlooked. The film had to be redubbed and retitled in England upon release because it was so dark and it's the last film to feature both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, so what is there not to like!? I highly recommend anyone who likes horror to check this one out. 4/5 stars.
I found a copy of The Body Snatcher on youtube so you can check it out free of charge right here!