Strangler of the Swamp, The (1946)
Starring: Rosemary La Planche, Blake Edwards, Charles Middleton, Robert Barrat
Director: Frank Wisbar
Nutshell: Wronged ferryman returns from the watery dead to exact horrible revenge
The Strangler of the Swamp is a Creepy tale of deceit and murderous revenge is a little similar to last year’s Tim Burton epic Sleepy Hollow in plot if not execution. The small swamp community is shuddering in fear as a result of mysterious deaths around the swamp area. No logical explanation can be found and the townsfolk secretly believe that it is the curse of the Strangler that is the cause of all the havoc.
The town’s wives take a stand knowing that their men have a dark hidden secret, which they feel is responsible for the curse. Years ago, the man who used to ferry people back and forth across the swamp was framed and hanged and our swampy characters were responsible for the set up. Thus, the wives argue, the death curse on those who framed the poor sod. The Strangler of the Swamp starts intriguingly enough with a chilling ghostly appearance, but alas it is somewhat sidetracked when a romantic plot takes center stage instead of the mysteries surrounding the swamp. Our blue-eyed boy wonder has blonde bombshell falling for his proposal on their second meeting!
The cowardly townsfolk decide to let a newly arrived bombshell the job of the grim ferryman…. a most unlikely occupation for a gorgeous pin up from the city one would think. Our lass however seems to revel in the role of a ferryman, rather ferry-woman until boy wonder woo’s her off her perch. However, the plot thickens as the blonde’s grandfather turns out to be one of the quarter responsible for the wrongful conviction and hanging all those years ago.
The Strangler of the Swamp is black and white feature from 1946 and looks it with a totally washed out print and a soundtrack that struggles to remain in synch half the time. However, the moments when the strangler is on screen are really quite frightening considering the era the film was made in. It’s unfortunate that the strangler doesn’t have more screen time as he is rather hideous and imposing and therefore effective. This movie could/should have been so much more yet remains far more effective than Jan De Bont’s 1999 The Haunting for example at a miniscule fraction of the cost.