Shanks (1974)

PG | 93 mins | Horror | October 1974

Director:

William Castle

Writer:

Ranald Graham

Producer:

Steven North

Cinematographer:

Joseph Biroc

Editor:

David Berlatsky

Production Designer:

Boris Leven

Production Company:

William Castle Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Shock! was a working title for the film, as noted in news items in the 21 Jun 1973 HR and 30 Jul 1973 Box.
       The following quote appears on a title card that precedes the end credits: “‘Come…let us shut up the box and the puppets – for our play is played out.’ – Thackeray”
       Shanks was the first project under director William Castle’s multi-picture deal with Paramount Pictures Corp. Production began 22 Aug 1973, with locales in Los Angeles, CA, and Vancouver, British Columbia, as reported in 24 Aug 1973 HR production charts. On 4 Oct 1973, HR announced that principal photography had been completed on the Paramount studio lot.
       A 29 Aug 1973 Var brief stated that the script was heavily rewritten after famous French mime Marcel Marceau was cast in the dual lead role. Var also reported that screenings of Shanks! would have a “no seating after start” rule. According to a 5 Mar 1974 HR article, Paramount allotted over $500,000 for a marketing budget, while the production budget had been less than $500,000.
       Shanks marked Marcel Marceau’s American film acting debut. ... More Less

Shock! was a working title for the film, as noted in news items in the 21 Jun 1973 HR and 30 Jul 1973 Box.
       The following quote appears on a title card that precedes the end credits: “‘Come…let us shut up the box and the puppets – for our play is played out.’ – Thackeray”
       Shanks was the first project under director William Castle’s multi-picture deal with Paramount Pictures Corp. Production began 22 Aug 1973, with locales in Los Angeles, CA, and Vancouver, British Columbia, as reported in 24 Aug 1973 HR production charts. On 4 Oct 1973, HR announced that principal photography had been completed on the Paramount studio lot.
       A 29 Aug 1973 Var brief stated that the script was heavily rewritten after famous French mime Marcel Marceau was cast in the dual lead role. Var also reported that screenings of Shanks! would have a “no seating after start” rule. According to a 5 Mar 1974 HR article, Paramount allotted over $500,000 for a marketing budget, while the production budget had been less than $500,000.
       Shanks marked Marcel Marceau’s American film acting debut.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Jul 1973.
---
Box Office
30 Sep 1974
p. 4725.
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1973.
---
Daily Variety
8 Oct 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1973
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 1973
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1974
p. 3, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1974
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Times
16 Oct 1974.
---
New York Times
10 Oct 1974
p. 62.
Variety
29 Aug 1973.
---
Variety
9 Oct 1974
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
William Castle Presents
A Grim Fairy Tale
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Vancouver crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Key grip
Key grip, Vancouver crew
Asst cam, Vancouver crew
Asst cam, Vancouver crew
Cam asst
Best boy
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Stillman
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir, Vancouver crew
FILM EDITORS
Puppets des
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Asst props
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Boom man
Sd boom, Vancouver crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
Titles and opticals
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog created by
Asst by [Choreog]
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
Hairdresser
Wigs des
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Scr supv
Prod secy
Asst to the exec prod
Asst to the prod, Vancouver crew
Prod asst, Vancouver crew
Prod asst, Vancouver crew
Unit pub
Exec secy
STAND INS
Stunt coord
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Shock!
Release Date:
October 1974
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 October 1974
Los Angeles opening: 15 October 1974
Production Date:
22 August--late September 1973 in Los Angeles and Vancouver
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
9 October 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43796
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Prints and processing by Movielab
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Canada, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A rich man called Old Walker watches from the sidewalk as Malcolm Shanks, a mute wearing a clown nose and a top hat, performs a puppet show for a group of children. Afterward, a young fan named Celia asks Malcolm to perform a show for her birthday, and he agrees. Malcolm returns home where he lives with his stepsister, Mrs. Barton, and her drunk husband. Old Walker calls the house and tells Mrs. Barton that he wants to hire Malcolm. The next day, Malcolm arrives at Walker’s mansion and lets himself in when Walker doesn’t answer the door. Wandering around the house, Malcolm finds a laboratory with caged rabbits and other animals. As Malcolm peers into a microscope, Walker grabs his shoulder. After the men drink a toast, Walker removes a limp frog from a jar of liquid and attaches several electrical wires to its body. He then orders Malcolm to turn on a power source, which sends jolts into the frog’s body and reanimates the animal. Back at home, Malcolm works on a puppet that looks like Celia, but Mrs. Barton yells at him to clean the kitchen. For his second experiment with Walker, Malcolm reanimates a dead chicken using the same power source but with no wires attached to the corpse. When Malcolm receives his first weekly salary, he first removes fifty dollars for himself before delivering the rest to Mrs. Barton, who complains about the missing cash. One day, Malcolm reports to work and finds Walker dead. Back at home, Malcolm locates the puppet he has fashioned after the old man and caresses it. The Bartons accost Malcolm, demanding to know why he is not at ... +


A rich man called Old Walker watches from the sidewalk as Malcolm Shanks, a mute wearing a clown nose and a top hat, performs a puppet show for a group of children. Afterward, a young fan named Celia asks Malcolm to perform a show for her birthday, and he agrees. Malcolm returns home where he lives with his stepsister, Mrs. Barton, and her drunk husband. Old Walker calls the house and tells Mrs. Barton that he wants to hire Malcolm. The next day, Malcolm arrives at Walker’s mansion and lets himself in when Walker doesn’t answer the door. Wandering around the house, Malcolm finds a laboratory with caged rabbits and other animals. As Malcolm peers into a microscope, Walker grabs his shoulder. After the men drink a toast, Walker removes a limp frog from a jar of liquid and attaches several electrical wires to its body. He then orders Malcolm to turn on a power source, which sends jolts into the frog’s body and reanimates the animal. Back at home, Malcolm works on a puppet that looks like Celia, but Mrs. Barton yells at him to clean the kitchen. For his second experiment with Walker, Malcolm reanimates a dead chicken using the same power source but with no wires attached to the corpse. When Malcolm receives his first weekly salary, he first removes fifty dollars for himself before delivering the rest to Mrs. Barton, who complains about the missing cash. One day, Malcolm reports to work and finds Walker dead. Back at home, Malcolm locates the puppet he has fashioned after the old man and caresses it. The Bartons accost Malcolm, demanding to know why he is not at work. In an angry fit, Mr. Barton smashes Walker’s puppet and Malcolm cries. Later, Malcolm uses the technology in Walker’s laboratory to reanimate the old man. Moving like a puppet, Walker slowly rises from the ground as Malcolm controls his movements with a little box. Malcolm eventually leads Walker on a walk outside. In a field, Celia finds the two and asks Malcolm if her present will be ready for her birthday, but the puppeteer sends her away with a kiss on the cheek. Upset that Malcolm hasn’t returned home to bring them more money, Mrs. Barton calls Walker’s house but nobody answers. Later, Mr. Barton stumbles into Walker’s house and demands more money, but Malcolm uses his controls to make Walker sit up in his chair menacingly. Next, the reanimated chicken attacks Barton, biting off his ear, and causing him to trip and fall down a set of stairs. When Malcolm realizes that Barton is dead, he reanimates his brother-in-law and practices controlling his body on Walker’s lawn. In the evening, Malcolm follows from a distance as he walks Barton back home. As the corpse approaches the house, however, Mrs. Barton runs out and gets hit by a car. Seeing Mrs. Barton lying dead on the ground, the driver asks Mr. Barton if he saw anything, and the corpse silently shakes its head no. The next day, Malcolm controls both the Bartons’ corpses, sending them on a trip to the general store. Celia spots Malcolm and the Bartons on the sidewalk and assumes they are going on a picnic. Inviting herself, Celia joins the threesome at a nearby park and watches as Malcolm performs a show using the Bartons as puppets. However, Celia becomes hysterical when she realizes the two are dead, and Malcolm explains to her with hand gestures that they perished in a car accident. He shows her the control boxes he is using to manipulate their movements, and, after she calms down, Celia accompanies Malcolm back to Walker’s mansion. There, Malcolm finds a white dress in a closet and offers it to Celia. She comments that she will have her “real” birthday party now. Since Malcolm buried Walker’s corpse, only the Bartons can join Malcolm and Celia at her birthday dinner that night. In Walker’s formal dining room, Malcolm and Celia sit at opposite ends of the table while, Mr. and Mrs. Barton, dressed as a butler and maid, serve them. As Malcolm amuses Celia with the antics of his two human-sized puppets, a motorcycle gang storms into the mansion and places the fresh corpse of one of their members on the dining room table. Malcolm and Celia stand by as the gang’s sole female member, Mata Hari, cries over the dead body, and the rest of the crew loots the house for alcohol. One of the men, Goliath, grabs Celia and begins to molest her as she screams. Mata Hari tries to pull him off, but he strikes her down. Tying Malcolm up in the laboratory, the bikers wreak havoc on the house. However, freeing himself from his constraints, Malcolm finds his controls and uses Mr. and Mrs. Barton to attack them. One of the men, Einstein, comes after Malcolm, bashing him in the head and stealing the Bartons’ controls. After regaining consciousness, Malcolm follows the biker’s voices outside and finds Celia lying on the ground, seemingly dead. Raising Walker from his grave, Malcolm uses the corpse to frighten the bikers. With the stolen set of controls, the bikers use Mrs. Barton’s corpse to fight off Walker’s, but accidentally send her into a well. Malcolm makes Walker grab two of the men, lead them into a pool of water, and drown them. After Malcolm sends Walker to strangle another member of the gang, Malcolm attacks Goliath himself, and sends him falling over a ledge. Malcolm then reanimates Celia and dances with her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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