Karloff Brings Body to this Horror
The year is 1831 and the people of Edinburgh are still cautious over grave robbers after the incidents of a few years ago. And they have good reason to be as Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) who runs the medical school is paying John Gray (Boris Karloff), a local cabbie, to obtain dead bodies for his research. When young student Donald Fettes (Russell Wade) asks MacFarlane for his help in treating a young girl who has lost the use of her legs he is not keen on the idea but Fettes becomes aware that not all is as it seems when it comes to MacFarlane and Gray who seems to have some strange power over the Dr. when ever they meet.
For devotees of old horror movies I am sure that "The Body Snatcher" is a delight, a solid adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's short story with a cast of talented actors. But for those who are more general movie fans with an interest in old movies it is just a well made horror movie with a good cast. This may sound obvious but how much you enjoy "The Body Snatcher" will be a matter of taste because it isn't one of those movies which are good enough to appeal to those who are not genre fans.
Having said that "The Body Snatcher" impresses with Boris Karloff delivering a brilliant performance as well as the suggested horror. In a scene early on we see a shadowy figure enter a grave yard where a small dog sits guarding a grave, we don't see the dog die but we see the shadowy figure raise a shovel above his head and strike down with a whack. It is an unsettling scene without being graphic and there are more of these sorts of scenes which litter the movie making it one which frequently shocks through the use of suggested horror.
There is also Boris Karloff who floats through the movie as the nasty John Gray, creepy, sinister, smarmy and controlling. It is a fantastic performance which makes every scene he is in as he fills the air with a sense of ominous foreboding. Karloff gets good supporting performances from the likes of Bela Lugosi and Henry Daniell but it is Karloff who makes "The Body Snatcher" still an entertaining movie even now after almost 70 years.
What this all boils down to is that whilst for me "The Body Snatcher" was only a good old horror movie I can appreciate why those who love old horror movies cherish it as it does have some wonderful scenes of suggested horror as well as a great performance from Boris Karloff.