Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936)

Well before the time of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, George King’s 1930’s version of Sweeney Todd terrorized London. Wonderfully played by Tod Slaughter, Todd derives pleasure from killing wealthy customers by means of a trap-door barber’s chair, then proceeds to slit their throats. He has a glorious villain laugh, and often refers this process as “polishing them off.”

Sweeney Todd is knowingly assisted by Mrs. Lovatt (Stella Rho), who disposes of the bodies, and also sells meat pies in a shop next door (could there be a connection there?). He is unknowingly assisted by a 12 year old boy, Tobias (John Singer), who is conveniently sent off every time Todd gets a deviant twinkle in his eyes (although he hints at murderous threats at the boy at numerous times).

The movie also has some plot about Todd loving an aristocrat’s daughter, but she’s already taken, so he goes after the guy. You know, standard villain-in-love stuff. Definitely check this movie out, though. If nothing else, you’ll probably like Tod Slaughter’s performance, and his devilish, stereotypical, maniacal laugh.

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