• The Living Coffin (Casa Negra) DVD Review

    Released by: Casa Negra
    Released on: April 24th, 2007.
    Director: Fernando Mendez
    Cast: Gaston Santos, Maria Duval, Quintin Bulnes, Pedro De Aguillon, Carlos Ancira, Carolina Barrett
    Year: 1958
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    The Living Coffin – Movie Review:

    Fernando Mendez was responsible for directing some of the absolute best films in the Mexican horror cycle of the fifties and sixties such as The Black Pit Of Dr. M and The Vampire, but unfortunately The Living Coffin doesn't quite hit the same sort of high marks as his better known pictures. The idea of mixing the western and horror genres together is a great one, and honestly it's one that remains ripe with potential to this day, but sadly the film fails to exploit the best that the two very different genres has to offer and instead, it winds up a rather dull affair, though it's not without its moments.

    A gunfighter named Gaston and his partner, a man named Crazy Wolf, take a night away from their travels to hit up a creepy old inn where they hope to learn more about a strange stone figure of a crying lady that they've come into possession of.

    As the two travelers converse with the various oddball characters who inhabit the inn, they learn the strange history of the statue and they learn that it was sculpted by a woman named Clotilde who has semi-recently passed on although recently some of the locals have said that they've seen her ghost wandering the town, weeping like the statue she created. Eventually the two men meet up with Clotilde's niece who helps answer a few questions but not before the men find themselves mixed up in a plot where some nefarious types are out to steal some gold!

    High on mood and atmosphere, The Living Coffin is a triumph in style over substance. The story meanders a fair bit and doesn't ever get as suspenseful or as flat out cool as it could have and should have been but at least it looks damn good from start to finish. Plenty of smoky alley ways and shadowy locales give the film a very rich and almost tangible vibe that helps things immensely and almost lets us forgot that the story is flat out goofy. Almost... but not quite.

    Ultimately the film feels like somewhat of a wasted opportunity. The cast is strong, the movie looks awesome and there are a few interesting cultural twists that definitely set it apart from American westerns which make it interesting as a curiosity item but the script is too weak to really hold it all together despite the best efforts of the cast and the art direction and cinematography teams.

    The Living Coffin – DVD Review:

    The movie was shot for a fullframe presentation which is how it is shown on this DVD, with a brand new transfer that has been taken from restored vault elements and completely remasterd. That being said, the colors are a little on the faded side here though it looks like Casa Negra has done what they could with the elements available. The image stays clean and clear and there aren't any compression artifacts and print damage is minimal. Over all it's a very good transfer, even if it isn't perfect.

    The original Spanish language track is here in Dolby Digital Mono. Dialogue is clean and clear and there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion. There are spots where things sound just a little flat but that’s not surprising considering the age of the movies and there really isn’t anything to complain about here in terms of the audio presentation. The English subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read though a few slip ups in the subtitles are there if you want to look for them.

    Extras on this release are definitely on the slim side compared to previous Casa Negra discs, but we are treated to a decent photo essay on the history of the film and the genre as well as some cast biographies, a decent still gallery, animated menus and chapter stops.

    The Living Coffin – The Final Word Review:

    A movie that's more interesting because of how it blends genres than for how it actually tells its story, The Living Coffin is a definitely curio of Mexican genre cinema that has received a solid presentation on DVD.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      It isn't good when the horse is smarter than 90% of the cast. While it definitely influenced Scooby Doo, there are some creepy atmospheric moments to enjoy. Sitting through everything else is pretty difficult to do after a while. Your patience may vary.

      I may hurt myself by pairing it up later with the inferior Swamp Of The Lost Monsters (AKA Swamp Of Lost Souls).
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Another cracking review, Ian. This is definitely a film that works best when watched with a beverage or two
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      I never did get this one or MAN MADE MONSTER.
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      This is one (along w/MAN MADE MONSTER) that I can't remember a damn thing about...I will have to revisit them both soon.

      Edit - Why I forgot it's THE MAN AND THE MONSTER, not MMM I'll never know. I am getting old.