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All Critics (1)
| Fresh (1)
| Rotten (0)
A grim fairy-tale.
Aug 2, 2010
| Rating: B
| Full Review…
A grim fairy-tale.
After apprenticing to a reclusive scientist, a deaf-mute puppeteer learns how to move corpses using electrodes operated by remote control. William Castle (!) directs Marcel Marceau (!) in this "grim fairy tale" mixing black comedy with pantomime slapstick and silent film aesthetics with an exploitation movie plot to create a movie like nothing else out there.
"Shanks" is not marvelous, but if you wanted to make a film to exploit the talents of Marcel Marceau, there would be few ways to do it better.
Marceau portrays Malcolm Shanks, an innocent puppeteer who is beloved by the town's children but saddled with an abusive sister and her nasty, drunk husband. Keen to seize his wages, they find him a job with an old, rich scientist (also played by Marceau, in ridiculously heavy makeup) who is conducting reanimation experiments on the dead. Sure, it happens! When the scientist dies himself, Marceau takes over the operation, finding that his marionette skills are well-adapted to mastering the handheld invention which directs a dead creature's movements.
At least three mimes portray animated corpses, and most of the fun is watching these artisans at work in such an unusual, macabre setting. No one utters much dialogue except the sister and husband -- Marceau's character stays silent but *does* croak a few lines in the guise of the old scientist -- and the wordless action is accented by occasional title cards in the style of a silent film. Eventually, a hoodlum motorcycle gang complicates the plot, which unfortunately is a rather clichÃ (C)d touch.
"Shanks" is just a novelty, but it's entertaining. It is also William Castle's final work as a director.
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