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The Oblong Box - Blu-ray Review


4 beersSwiping its title from an Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Oblong Box is American International Pictures’ answer to life after Roger Corman, who stopped his Poe & Price AIP film cycle in 1965.  This time, Gordon Hessler (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), takes his first step behind the camera and delivers a hypnotizing debut that effectively landed him continued horror work for the production company.  This week, thanks to Kino Lorber, The Oblong Box gets a much-needed dusting with its release on blu-ray.

Due to a fairly lukewarm reception, The Oblong Box – even though it was the first on-screen partnership of Christopher Lee and Vincent Price – has long been dormant in the public’s eye.  It is a different story; however, among the freaks, geeks, and horror hounds out there in B-movie land.  We are always hot on its heels and Kino Lorber’s 1080p offering is the undead resurrection we’ve been waiting for, just don’t expect the long-winded plot to explain itself.

AIP, as acknowledged above, have long spent many years digging through Poe’s past.  They’ve made a lot of money mining his material – even his poems are not free from adaptations.  A few decent flicks have been made that actually transcend the B-movie genre and become sort-of cinematic high-water marks.  At their center, though, has been the constant star of Vincent Price, lighting the spooky path forward. 

With The Oblong Box, Price reclaims his title as the King of Pain with his portrayal of the dogged Julian Markham, elder brother of Sir Edward (Alastair Williamson) who has been disfigured by an African tribe as punishment for an unfortunate accident on their plantation.  The self-shaming Julian is keeping him hidden deep within his mansion.  Edward; however, has other plans.  Tired of his captivity, he orchestrates a plan to bust out by faking his own death – except things do not go as planned when Dr. Neuhartt (Christopher Lee) becomes involved.  Soon follow a series of ghastly murders and a shocking revelation that brings more truth back to life than it does the dead.

Effectively shot by Dutch cinematographer John Coquillon (Straw Dogs), there is an unexpected crispness to much of the hair-raising action that definitely covers the film’s weaker moments.  Fans of horror and of Price’s Poe efforts will be rewarded, though, which is why I highly recommend you bury yourself for at least one night inside The Oblong Box.


[tab title="Film Details"]

The Oblong Box - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R for some violence and sexual content
96 mins
: Gordon Hessler
Lawrence Huntington
Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies
: Horror
Edgar Allan Poe's Classic Tale Of The Living Dead!
Memorable Movie Quote: "We have knowledge of things you know nothing of."
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 11, 1969
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 20, 2015
Synopsis: Aristocrat Julian Markham keeps his disfigured brother, Sir Edward, locked in a tower of his house. Occasionaly Sir Edward escapes and causes havoc around the town.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Oblong Box - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 20, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

The film is presented with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer using an aspect ratio of 1.69:1.  Colors are earthbound and skin tones are well-saturated.  The detailed image is surprisingly clean given the age of the film.  The clarity of the presentation is solid and the film retains a level of grain that ensures an authentic and credible appearance.  Even dark scenes are rarely problematic, with the blacks proving extremely solid, and the level of accuracy ensuring that this gothic masterpiece is visually absorbing throughout.  The audio is presented in a sufficient 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix.  



  • There is a strong commentary from Film Historian Steve Haberman.

Special Features:

Outside of a trailer, the lone supplemental item is an audio recording of Vincent Price reciting Poe’s Annabel Lee.

  • Annabel Lee (10 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer


[tab title="Trailer"]