The Comedy of Terrors is a joy to watch from start to finish. Who knew that Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone could be so funny? Jacques Tourner, who directed the Val Lewton classics Cat People (1942) and I Walked With a Zombie (1943), shows us he is also great at capturing the fine comedic performances of this stellar cast.
Top of the list is Vincent Price who always had a knack for camp but really turns up the volume in this film. He plays Waldo Trumbull, an undertaker who doesn't have any "customers" and so he drums by business by knocking people off. Although he is more well known for films such as House on Haunted Hill (1959) and House of Wax (1953), I would argue that Comedy of Terrors is one of the finest performances of his career.
In true Laurel and Hardy fashion, Peter Lorre is Waldo's "faithful handyman" Felix. He manages to pull off quite a few laughs himself and is the perfect foil for Prices antics and sarcasm throughout the film. The big surprises come from an aging Boris Karloff who shows us a side of him we've never seen before. He is wonderful as Hinchley, Waldo's aging Father-in-law. Basil Rathbone is also hilarious as Mr. Black, the man who just won't stay dead. Both of them definitely should have done more comedy in their careers.
Finally, I must mention the radiant Joyce Jameson who plays Waldo's vocally challenged wife, Amaryllis. She really sparkles in this film and every song she butchers made me giggle every time. Kudos also go to Rhubarb the Cat for her tour do force performance as Cleopatra.
Don't miss this one! Comedy of Terrors is one of those lesser known gems that deserves a wider audience. Bravo! You can watch this one instantly on Netflix.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.