The story of a girl who twice returned from the grave! Taylor Mills CEO Ellen Garth (Georgina Cookson (opens in new tab)) is devoted to her business, her money and her husband Raymond (Gary Merrill), and is worth £1m dead. Feeling little more than a carer and 24-hr stud, Raymond drifts towards Ellen’s attractive young niece Alice (Jane Merrow), but is thrown out when the possessive Ellen catches them in a tender tryst.
With nothing to lose, Raymond joins Ellen’s shady attorney Richard Corbett (Neil McCallum) in an elaborate scheme to murder his wife. Events take a sinister turn when Raymond kills Ellen and buries her in a garden shed before the plan can be put in motion. But, as Ellen believed in life after death, there are signs that she is not content to remain in her grave…
...will live forever as a masterpiece of suspense! This 1965 thriller (called The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die in the US) marked the directorial debut of the late Gordon Hessler (opens in new tab) (he died in January of this year at the age of 83), who had cut his teeth on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in the US, and would later helm the cult horror duo The Oblong Box (1969) and Scream and Scream Again (1970) in the UK, both starring Vincent Price, as well as Ray Harryhausen’s Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973).
The routine script is an adaptation of the 1959 novel by Jay Bennett (opens in new tab), a former scriptwriter on the Hitchcock TV series, and shares similar themes to Henri Georges Clouzot's Les Diaboliques (1955), William Castle’s The Night Walker (1964) and even Otto Preminger’s Laura (1944).
Gary Merrill (opens in new tab), best known for starring in 1950’s All About Eve with Bette Davis, was also a regular on the Hitchcock TV series. His age and looks certainly make him an unlikely gigolo here, but he carries it off quite well. And Jane Merrow (opens in new tab), who plays the Lolita like Alice later turned up in 1967's Night of the Big Heat (opens in new tab) and Hands of the Ripper (opens in new tab) (1971). Producer Jack Parsons (opens in new tab) was responsible for such cult genre fare as 1962’s Witchcraft, starring Lon Chaney Jr, in his only British film role, The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) and Don Sharp's underrated Curse of the Fly (1965).
While Catacombs (opens in new tab) plays like a feature-length episode of a Hitchcock TV mystery, there are some disturbing moments that linger: like when Raymond is commanded by Ellen to carry her to bed for sex (it will make you cringe); or Ellen’s look-a-like getting a brick to the head then being set alight in a car that’s then sent over a cliff (vicious stuff). The catacombs of the title don't actually appear in the film, but provide a vital clue in solving the mystery, and there’s more than one twist after the big reveal - which is straight out of William Castle’s The Tingler (1959).
THE UK DVD RELEASE Catacombs is presented in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio from Network Distributing (opens in new tab) http://youtube.com/v/WGpBm8LwxvE
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