STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (1945) Reviews and overview

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‘Girls in love… beware! The strangler is on the loose’

Strangler of the Swamp is a 1945 [released January 1, 1946] American horror film, produced and distributed by Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). The film was written and directed by German filmmaker Frank Wisbar and is a remake of his Fährmann Maria (1936), based on the legend ‘Death and the Maiden’. It stars Rosemary LaPlanche, Robert Barrat and Blake Edwards (later a director of the Pink Panther films).


A ferryman who was wrongly hanged for a murder is now a ghost, and he’s more than a little perturbed. He wants revenge, and he’s inflicting strange, violent deaths on the townsfolk responsible for his execution…


“In terms of mood and atmosphere, Wisbar’s imaginative vision evokes the subtle terror of RKO producer Val Lewton, who revolutionized the horror genre with “B” classics such as Cat People (1942) and I Walked With a Zombie (1943). The fact that Strangler of the Swamp was produced at a small fraction of Lewton’s $150,000 budget makes Wisbar’s accomplishment all the more remarkable.” World Cinema Paradise


“…it’s a cheaply made, quasi-artsy little B, done in the heavy-handed style that only a foreign director (like Wisbar) would take pains to achieve. Today this PRC film is sometimes called a B picture that manages to step out of its class – a reputation the film itself has never quite affirmed. Mostly it’s just silly and dull.” Tom Weaver, Poverty Row Horrors! Monogram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties


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“While it’s not as overtly stylish and expressionist as early German horror, Strangler of the Swamp is bathed in shadows, mist, and moonlight and feels like a spectral dream not unlike Vampyr. The persistent presence of the ferry recalls Charon and the River Styx, and it’s almost as if viewers are transported to a dismal underworld inhabited by the spirits of the living and the dead.” Oh, the Horror!


“The opening scenes are particularly effective, not least because no special effects are used for the spectre’s appearances” Middleton simply seems to melt in and out of the shadows. The one real weakness, probably imposed on the film, is a crashingly insensitive score by Alex Steinert.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror


Cast and characters:

  • Rosemary La Planche as Maria Hart
  • Robert Barrat as Christian Sanders
  • Blake Edwards as Christian ‘Chris’ Sanders Jr.
  • Charles Middleton as Ferryman Douglas
  • Effie Laird as Martina Sanders
  • Nolan Leary as Pete Jeffers
  • Frank Conlan as Joseph Hart
  • Therese Lyon as Bertha
  • Virginia Farmer as Anna Jeffers




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