The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)

Tomb of Ligeia PosterThings get off to a promising start with Vincent Price‘s Verden Fell arguing with small-minded church types who are refusing to let him bury his dead witch of a wife, Ligeia, in one of the official cemeteries with their fancy consecrated land just because she supposedly said something before she died about how she would never die. I was thinking, “heck Verden, why don’t you just keep her almost-dead ass in a secret room in your fancy abbey and let her screw with your mind for the rest of your miserable life” and by golly if that’s what Verden went and did.

In spite of Verden being one of those horror movie guys who lives in the same creepy house as his deceased wife, he kind of has the hots for this gal he meets at a fox hunt. They even take some halting steps toward a relationship in spite of his pet black cat attacking her whenever it gets the chance.

At this point, I was hoping the movie’s main terror vehicle would be more than just some jealous feline, but as it turns out not only would that be the chief form of scares in this one (there was also a dead fox, but I think that would be more smelly than scary) but that it would actually be the centerpiece of the finale when it has a death match with Vincent Price, as if the audience needed some catharsis by seeing a grown man fight it out with a house pet.

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We also find out that Verden has a strange hobby of making historical treasures out of wax. This is only brought out to explain how he made a wax dummy to put in his wife’s casket, since she was still sort of dead, but not quite and wanted to live in the house with Verden.Before you go chiding this woman as another one of those dull-witted babes whose corset is cutting off the blood to her brain, when they come back home Verden is in the process of trying to sell the abbey. This isn’t one of those movies where there’s some spooky stuff going at the house and people just stay there for no good reason. They’re leaving as soon as their realtor can dump the thing.

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Verden’s lawyer tells him that there is a bit of a snag though. It seems that no one ever bothered to file a death certificate on Ligeia and the abbey and most of the estate is in her name, so they’ll have to dig her up, have an inquest, and determine that the cause of her death is because she was really a wax dummy.

It is at this point that you can start chiding this woman, because she stays in this stupid run down abbey even as she starts getting haunted by the wife and that darn cat!

Verden has his big showdown with the cat and there’s a laughable sequence where he’s chasing it around the room with a whip (What was that doing in the bedroom, you kinky bastard?) and culminates when he strangles the cat, revealing a supposedly shocking secret. Along the way, Verden also manages to accidentally set his haunted abbey on fire!

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The movie strains itself to make it past a wafer thin eighty minutes and resorts to some lengthy opening and closing credits to pad its running time.

Nothing much in the way of explanation or motivation for anyone involved was offered up here either. What was Ligeia’s problem? Why was Verden under her spell, but no one else was? Why did the new chick marry him? Why did she put up with all the haunting? Why didn’t they take that cat to the pound?

The scares and horror in this one were non-existent unless you have a mortal fear of guys in creepy sunglasses and cats that need to be declawed. You’ll wish you had your own wax figure made up to sit through this one.

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