Raymond Garth (Gary Merrill) is married to Ellen Garth (Georgiana Cookson). Ellen is a wealthy overbearing woman who owns a chain of stores. Raymond is her slightly younger boy toy. Ellen is desperately in love with Raymond and requires his attention constantly so she keeps him on a short leash. Raymond devotedly attends her every whim but is really only there for the money. Ellen runs everyone in her life as if she owns them.
In her employ is a young man named Dick Corbett (Neil McCallum). She caught him embezzling from her company and now holds the evidence over his head to keep him in line. Dick hates Ellen and will sometimes commiserate with Raymond over their equal but different treatment. She uses Dick as a gopher and Raymond as a sex toy. The only person that Ellen really loves is her teenage niece Alice Taylor (Jane Merrow). Alice has been away in Paris for a year studying art. Alice has changed since she left. She is now a young woman and a beautiful one at that. As soon as Raymond sees Alice he is smitten. Alice begins to feel the same for Raymond but tries to keep her distance due to her affection for her aunt.
In the meantime Dick and Raymond begin plotting Ellen’s death. Ellen has a hip problem that sometimes causes her excruciating pain. To combat the pain Ellen has studied an ancient art where she can put herself into a trance until it subsides. She is scheduled to go to Italy to soak in some mud baths that are supposed going to help her pain. Dick and Raymond plan on killing Ellen and sending Dick’s actress friend in her place to Italy. Once there Dick plans on having the actress die in a staged car accident. Ellen is known for having a lead foot so having her die on a winding road in Italy away from everyone else will not look suspicious. Piece of cake.
When Ellen catches Raymond and Alice in a compromising position plans get speeded up. Raymond kills Ellen and buries her body in the dirt floor of the potting shed on the grounds of their country cottage. But Ellen has other plans and it appears that one of them is to no stay dead and buried.
“Catacombs” AKA “The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die” was released in 1965 and was directed by Gordon Hessler. It is a low budget British mystery thriller and a horror film. This is Hessler’s first theatrical effort. He would later direct “The Oblong Box” 1969, “Scream and Scream Again” 1970 and “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” 1973.
This was quite a surprise and a nice little film. I stumbled across it while looking for something else. Those are always my greatest joys. This one is no exception. The script was good. The story was tight and nicely told. Of course it had a little twist and a turn as well. I enjoyed it.
The acting is wonderful. Merrill as the hounded husband of the shrewish Ellen and then later as the haunted husband of that same creature is splendid. The entire cast, although small, is great. Both Merrill and McCallum are basically weasels at heart. Cookson is perfect as the domineering woman who puts everyone in their place. Even Merrow as the sweet young thing is great in her role as well.