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The Dismemebered (1962) - Blu-ray Review

3 beers“Oswald, you botched it again.“ That’s the line of dialogue that the lead ghost in 1962’s regional horror/comedy The Dismembered says repeatedly to one member of his spirit gang.  Poor Oswald.  He just can’t seem to get his human traps to go off right.  You see, a trio of jewel thieves have set up base in the ghosts’ haunted house and they are having none of it. 

Directed by Ralph S. Hirshorn (The End of Summer), this horror/comedy is smartly written by Joseph Scott and filmed in the city of Philadelphia.  There are several moments of very clever dialogue throughout the insanity of this one haunted night and the dark humor is supple.  Unfortunately, the amateur acting from most of the cast hinders the black-and-white flick.  And the loopy practical effects, which includes severed hands and feet moving with the help of wires and strings, certainly won't help it win any favorable awards.  All of this, if you ask me, is completely forgivable when you consider the sheer lunacy of the overall product. 

The police may be clueless as to where the thieves are, but these five ghosts, including William Lane as Oswald (who gets all the blame), Effe (Kate Shaffmaster), and Tommy (Martin Jackson) are hot on their trail.  And they are doubling-down on not letting these three thieves bring any more chaos and disorder to their home.  This is their permanent address after all and so they, after forming a committee, agree to kill the home invaders in order to protect themselves.  It’ll be fun, they agree.

And then there is the mysterious girl in white who tries to lure the men away from the house and the cemetery that the other ghosts watch over.  They aren’t into sharing their prey and get quite pissed when she drags them away with her disembodied shrieks and wails.  But the chaos is not over yet.  When one thief returns, after discovering his entire crew has been wiped out, an invasion of body parts occurs.  Yes, body parts.

Hirshorn’s film was made for a whopping $5000 and was filmed in a little under two weeks and, yes, it shows.  Regardless, the film remains entertaining.  When only one thief is left standing, all sorts of flesh-covered creepy crawlies – including a human brain – stalk him within the halls and walls of the haunted house.  And the ghosts go to battle against the dismembered parts flooding the house, dropping their war against the jewel thief.   It’s a mishmash of ghost characters running in and out of doorways, hallways, and rooms as floating body parts lead them every which way as one, still living, man starts to go insane. 

The Dismembered is a drive-in B-grade picture through and through.  It’s not as successful as you’ll want it to be, but its wonky improvisational score by the Main Street Ghouls (featuring a piano, electronic effects, a trumpet, and the various sounds of war) and hokey scares will be enough to keep most hounds of horror entertained.  The film makes its debut 55 years after it was originally assembled.  That alone should drive some collectors to purchase Garagehouse Pictures 4k restoration (from the original 16mm print) and release of this film.

If a mutilated hand choking the life out of cartoon villains is your cup of tea, then The Dismembered and its off the wall brand of kooky scares is definitely for you.


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The Dismemebered (1962) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
65 mins
: Ralph S. Hirshorn
Joseph Scott
Frank Geraci, Tim Sheldon, Kate Shaffmaster
: Horror
Oh really weird movie that will make you sick sick sick!
Memorable Movie Quote: "We've got to get out of here."
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 16, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 11, 2016
Synopsis: After a daring jewelry heist, a trio of thieves hold up in an old dark house inhabited by a motley bunch of restless ghosts that only want to dispatch their new guests in the most horrible manner possible – that is if they can get to them before the spirits of an unruly group of dismembered corpses from the nearby cemetery!


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Dismemebered (1962) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Garagehouse Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- May 02, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
: None

Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Framed in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, The Dismembered arrives on blu-ray courtesy of a crackling 4K scan of the original 16mm film elements.  Black levels are strong and grays are equally expressive.  There is a bit of print damage but nothing too distracting from the overall quality of the newly minted MPEG-4 AVC.  This is a low-budget flick and, even with the new scan, it shows.  Details are low and there’s literally no set design, so keep those expectations for this very modest production.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track (mono) is balanced, but never explicit with its handling of the score or the dialogue.



  •  We get a seriously solid and candid commentary from the film’s director.  Moderated by filmmaker Andrew Repasky McElhinney who is also a Philadelphia native, the two have an enjoyable banter about the film, its location, and some of the technical aspects of the shoot.

Special Features:

We get the student film, which is quite good, director Ralph S. Hirshorn completed in the years before tackling The Dismembered.

  • The End of Summer (11 min)


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[tab title="Art"]The Dismemebered (1962) - Blu-ray Review