Monday, November 30, 2020

LIGHTS OUT / "Dead Man's Coat" - 1951

Here's our last post for November... Today's tale deals with a dead man's coat that can become a cloak of invisibility, a bitter man with scores to settle, combined with grave-robbing and murder! Strap on your seat belts!!

It stars Basil Rathbone, William Post Jr. and Norman Rose. We know that Basil is a fantastic actor, to me he was the Real Sherlock Holmes for example. His next to last movie was HILLBIILLYS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE, his last one was the Mexican production, AUTOPSY OF A GHOST! William Post Jr. was in a number of movies from 1931 to 1948, then did only TV from 1949 to 1976. Norman Rose had 42 acting credits from 1949 to 1992 and was narrator in WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS and MESSAGE FROM SPACE besides being in some quality movies.

In a novel beginning, we see our narrator Frank Gallop on the TV, he saying (an old wife's tale) that a dead man's coat could make a person invisible if it's retrieve at midnight on the day they're buried!

Mr. Francis tells his butler Gregory to turn the TV off, the idea is just plain ridiculous! But, he reads in the paper that a friend of his was buried today.

After mulling it over and realizing that he could settle some scores with a few of his other 'friends' by becoming invisible, he tells Gregory to grab some tools, they're going to the graveyard to do some grave-robbing!

At the gravesite, Gregory is beside himself, he's filled with anxiety. And when Francis starts using an ax on the coffin lid (because it's only a few minutes before midnight) the butler just can't stand it.

Low and behold, Francis comes out of the hole with the coat in hand, right on time. Gregory says he wants to leave...

That sets Francis off, telling Gregory that if he tried to go to the police it would be the last thing he ever did! Francis puts the coat on and becomes invisible, Gregory faints!

Back at home, Gregory brings his boss a drink, but is confused about where the invisible man is in the room! When Gregory refuses a request, well, Francis (he's one sadistic SOB) comes out of nowhere and either slaps or chokes the poor butler. He also threatens him with sending him to prison for past his deeds, so he'd better remain loyal... Now, where in the Hell have I heard THAT shit before?

In the only 'invisible' effect, the phone spins in circles as Francis chokes Gregory into submission to call a friend, Hamilton, and set up an appointment to meet together at his office, where Francis plans on killing him!

So, Gregory meets with (his real friend) Hamilton the next day and is under duress as he tries to talk to him. Thing is, Francis is in the room with them. Poor Gregory...

And poor Hamilton! Gregory's ordered to lock the door by the invisible psycho...

Basil's gestures are gripping! Only a few actors could be this convincing in this role.

Francis attacks Hamilton and it's not long before the unsuspecting victim ist tote. Wow, can you even imagine what it's like for Gregory to see this happen to his real friend!

The evening Hamilton is laid to rest in a crypt, Francis cannot help himself, he wants to go to the graveyard and say goodbye to his 'friend' and gloat over his dead body! We see the keepers arrange things and leave the tomb...

On the way out, one guy says that he ran into someone, but didn't see anything! To which another one quips, well, he'd have to be invisible! The jokes start.

Then the door is locked. Gregory inquires about the door and the guy with the key says that they just replaced the lock, and that no one will ever be able to get in without the key. The guy in the glasses turns to him and says, yeah, and no one can get out!!

Gregory talks with Francis through the opening. Mr. Invisible tells Gregory to go to the car and get some tools to get him out, it's cold as Hell in here! Get it?

The butler returns with a file, really making Francis pissed off. He wanted like a crowbar! So he tells Gregory to get to work, start filing!! Gregory says, no!! Francis starts sniveling, saying, my dear dear friend, I'm soooo sorry for all the things I've done to you over the years! Waa!

Gregory tells him he'll give him a chance to save himself, and drops the file to the ground . He tells Francis to reach through the opening and grab the file, and when he does, Gregory steps on his fingers and kicks the file out of reach!

Francis is crying like a 4 year old now (where have I heard THAT shit before!) but Gregory is done with him. Quoting from the Bible, Francis is put in his place as our good guy turns the tables on him. Let you be judged on murder, grave-robbing, abuse of others and blackmailing a person with false accusations about their past, as with Gregory!! Let you be judged by your Maker!.. Great little story!


KD said...

I haven't seen this one in a long time, but the one thing that I do recall is that there's a blooper in here somewhere, when you see a crew member, standing in the background. Am I recalling wrong here? lol

KD said...

If you watch this on the Internet Archive, look carefully around 16:20 and you will see a stagehand off to the far left!

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