Monthly Archives: October 2013

New Nightmare (1994)

wes cravens new nightmare

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Freddy versus Heather Langenkamp

It’s been 10 years since the original Nightmare on Elm Street was released and actress Heather Langenkamp who played Nancy in the original is now have nightmares about Freddy and receiving strange phone calls. After talking with director Wes Craven, who is working on a new script in the series, the two surmise that some evil entity is using the character of Freddy Krueger as a portal to enter into the real world and it is up to Heather to once again play the character of Nancy in order to stop him.

The film is high on concept, but low on effective delivery. For one thing the film doesn’t go far enough with its original idea. The evil entity should not have been portrayed as just being Freddy all over again, but something much scarier and over-the-top. In my mind it would have been more interesting having Robert Englund being the one to have to go up against his own character instead of Langenkamp.  Despite the initial novelty of seeing the actors playing themselves the whole thing ends up devolving back into a rehashing of the same old formula.

The film is also overlong. It introduces its first act and then seems to take forever to get to the second one. There are too many gimmicks during the first hour including several scenes where a character, mostly Langenkamp, wakes up out of a nightmare only to find that she is in another one. The dream within a dream thing becomes confusing and irritating. The logic is threadbare, poorly thought out and many times a stretch.

The scares or I should say the attempted scares are pretty minor and not too prevalent particularly during the first hour. A lot of them are just stuff that is redone from the earlier films. When Heather’s husband starts falling asleep while driving home and then attacked by Freddy while on the road is very similar to the Dan character having the same type of attack while riding on his motorcycle in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and there it was much more creative.  When Heather’s friend Julie (Tracy Middendorf) has her body pushed up the walls of a hospital room and then on the ceiling while being slashed is exactly what happened to the Amanda Wyss character in the first film, but there it was creepy while here it is tacky. The same thing with Heather running up some steps in the climactic sequence only to have the stairs turn into mush just like what happened to her in the original.

The film uses computerized effects that only help to make things more overblown. When Heather’s son Dylan (Miko Hughes) races onto a busy highway and into oncoming traffic it is obvious his body was matted onto another screen and the scene reminded me too much of the Mel Gibson character doing the same thing in Lethal Weapon. The gothic castle-like setting that makes up the finale has an unimaginative Mazes and Monsters feel to it. The Freddy character has also lost his zing. I thought the character was supposed to have been someone suffering from burns, but here it looks like someone who has been skinned and very obviously a mask worn by an actor.

Hughes as the young Dylan character makes up the majority of the screen time. The kid is alright, but started to remind me of Danny Lloyd from The Shining especially when he tried to put on an evil possessed voice, which sounded very similar to Lloyd saying ‘redrum, redrum’.

The idea that this is supposedly a fresh perspective to the series is just an ill- advised gimmick that drapes what has become a very tired, mechanical formula that should have been put to rest. Out of all the sequels I consider this one to be the weakest.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: October 14, 1994

Runtime: 1Hour 52Minutes

Rated R

Director: Wes Craven

Studio: New Line Cinema

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

Nightmare on elm street 5

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Freddy’s in the womb.

Alice (Lisa Wilcox) who survived Freddy’s attack from the last film and supposedly killed him is now suffering from those dreaded reoccurring nightmares again. This time she sees herself inside the mental institution where Freddy’s mother Amanda was raped and even witnesses his rebirth. She also finds out that she is pregnant and Freddy is trying to drive his spirit into the fetus so he can be reborn into the real world.

I came into this thing with extremely low expectations, but found myself delightfully surprised and consider this a definite improvement over the previous installment. Director Stephen Hopkins inserts a more artistic visual flair here. Some of the segments even have a certain Salvador Dali look especially near the end when the dimensions in the rooms inside the dreams begin to have all sorts of odd configurations. The use of a moonlit-like lighting accentuates the film’s dark imagery. I saw here the makings of the modern day horror movie that we are used to seeing today with more emphasis on the dark psychological undercurrent and less on the mechanical slasher formula.

The special effects are imaginative. Watching Freddy coming out of his mother’s womb as a baby is excellent as well as having him as a deformed baby run around an abandoned sanctuary as a sort of freak child. The scene showing Alice’s unborn baby inside her womb and attached to an umbilical cord I found to be quite impressive. I also was impressed with the segment where Alice’s skinny model friend Greta (Erika Anderson) gets her mouth stuffed with food by Freddy and her cheeks balloon out excessively, which may sound funny, but the way it is shown gets disturbing and even unsettling as they go back to it several times later on in the film. A segment cut from the theatrical release where Freddy force feeds her the insides of her own stomach can be seen on the unrated version.

The characters seem more like real people and the dialogue is an improvement as well. Wilcox now sports blonde hair and no longer has that reddish hair look that reminded me too much of Carrie. She also seems more confident in her role and gives a solid performance. Anderson, who was a former Elite model, makes for a pleasant addition to the eyes.

Freddy doesn’t have quite as much screen time as he did before, but that works for the best. The pace is slowed down with more emphasis on mood and atmosphere, which gives it a slightly more sophisticated feel.

My only real complaint is the blaring rap song that gets played over the closing credits, which is jarring and out-of-place.  Some fans of the series consider this to be one of the weaker installments, but I don’t agree. However, if you didn’t like it feel free to leave a comment as I would be interested to hear why.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: August 11, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated R

Director: Stephan Hopkins

Studio: New Line Cinema

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

nightmare on elm street 4

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Freddy won’t go away.

Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) tracks down and kills the last of the three remaining Elm Street teens, but Kristen (Tuesday Knight) wills her dream powers to her friend Alice (Lisa Wilcox) who now finds herself taking on the different traits of the past victims.  As Freddy tries to draw on a new batch of teen victims she fights him off with her new found abilities.

What started out as a highly original idea has now become formulaic. I didn’t find any of it scary, or even all that entertaining. The nightmare segments are redundant and the storyline cluttered. I wasn’t wrapped at all in the perils of any of the characters and would be surprised why anyone would. The whole series would’ve worked better had it stuck with the original Nancy character solely being the victim of the dreams and her lifelong battle against Krueger instead of always having some new character being the victim of the nightmares, which starts to make it derivative.

The dialogue is stilted and the characters are cardboard. The acting is also uniformly bad. Past entries in the series have had teen cast member go on to super stardom, but it is easy to see why this one didn’t. Due to being pregnant Patricia Arquette was unable to reprise her role as Kristen and Knight makes for a very weak replacement. I also didn’t like Wilcox because she seemed to resemble Sissy Spacek and started to remind me too much of the original Carrie. I did appreciate Danny Hassel as Dan simply because his wooden acting and one-note facial expressions aptly reflected the dull personality of your average high school jock.

The special effects are okay. The part where Alice is at a movie theater and gets sucked into an old movie is groovy as is watching the attractive Brooke Theiss morph into a giant cockroach. The segment where the souls of Freddy’s victims burst out of his body is excellent and the best moment of the entire film. However, other effects like having the heads of Freddy’s victims on sausages of a giant pizza are too silly.

Englund is in top form and really seems to be having fun. The part where he bursts out of a water bed and asks Joey (Rodney Eastman) “How’s this for a wet dream?” is fun as are his other choice lines. Englund even appears briefly as a female nurse and does as the Freddy character a rap song during the closing credits.

The series at this point looks to be dying a slow death with not enough new elements being added in and too much rehashing of the same old stuff. It seems incredulous to me that another two entries were made before the concept was finally retooled.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: August 19, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Rated R

Director: Renny Harlin

Studio: New Line Cinema

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

The Mad Room (1969)

the mad room

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Children murder their parents.

In 1957 George (Michael Burns) and Mandy (Barbara Sammeth), a brother and sister ages 6 and 4, murder their own parents in cold blood. No one knows for sure which one of them did it except that their older sister Ellen (Stella Stevens) witnessed them standing over their dead bodies in blood soaked clothes. It was her testimony that got them locked away into a mental institution, but now 12 years later they are set free into Ellen’s care. Ellen is now living with and working for wealthy widow Mrs. Armstrong (Shelley Winters) who agrees to allow the children to move in to her sprawling mansion, but then the murders begin to reoccur, but this time Ellen decides to cover up for them in order to avoid the humiliation and publicity.

This film, which is a remake of 1941’s Ladies in Retirement starring Ida Lupino, starts out with a bang by using some interesting visuals during the opening credit sequence. We are also shown flowers finger painted by the children using the dead parent’s blood on the walls of the victim’s bedroom, which I felt sent this thing to unprecedented darker depths especially for its time period. Unfortunately the film cannot sustain its initial momentum and devolves into a talky script that lacks much action or scares. Director Bernard Girard’s stylish direction keeps it watchable, but the film fails to achieve its full potential. Dave Grusin’s excellent music score manages to keep the tension going even when the script can’t.

Stevens looks gorgeous, but unfortunately her acting is sterile. Her wide blue eyes seem to reflect her empty performance and her presence weakens the film. The younger performers who play her brother and sister upstage her particularly Sammeth in her film debut.

I have always loved Winters as a character actress, but her goofy character hurts the dark undertones at least at the beginning. She does improve as it goes along and I enjoyed the way she reacts when Ellen tells her about her sibling’s dark secret and I was disappointed she didn’t remain through the film’s entire duration. Beverly Garland is a scene stealer as an embittered alcoholic wife who makes a big stink at a party and then a little later commits a shocking act.

If there is one thing that really ruins the movie it is the lame, limp ending, which has to be one of the most uneventful finales I have ever seen especially for a thriller. When the credits started to roll I literally did a double-take and asked myself. That’s it?? We just sat through 95 minutes of buildup just for that?? This was also another film where I figured out its twist ending long before it happened and when the ‘surprise’ revelation does come about it is unexciting and even anticlimactic.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: May 1, 1969

Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes

Rated M

Director: Bernard Girard

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The House of Exorcism (1976)

house of exorcism

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Possessed by the devil.

When Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil, which was reviewed yesterday, failed to generate any business at the box office the film was reedited using footage cut from the first film as well as adding some new scenes. In this version Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a tourist in Spain who becomes possessed by the devil right out in broad daylight on the cobbled streets and in front of her fellow tourists. She is taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital and accompanied by Father Michael (Robert Alda). The doctors are unable to explain her condition medically and as she gets worse and more violent it is up to the Father to excise the demon.

This version is an improvement over the Bava one in fact Bava’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on the credits and instead the film’s producer Alfredo Leone is listed as the director under the pseudonym Mickey Lion. Obviously it’s a huge rip-off of The Exorcist and in some ways gets unintentionally funny particularly when the Priest has a conversation with the demon during the exorcism. However, it is still fun and more flamboyant than the original and at least has a coherent plot that helps propel the movie along. The only problem is that the exorcism scenes are intercut with scenes from the original film showing Lisa visiting the mansion and meeting up with the strange characters. Supposedly this is the alternative reality that she is in while the demon possesses her body, but it adds little and bogs down the pace.

Sommer comes off much better here than she did in the first one. The way she contorts her face during the possession sequence is entertaining and she does well under the difficult demands. Telly Savalas as the devil disguised as a butler is still wasted. He doesn’t even seem to be taking the part seriously and seems to give it a tongue-and-cheek approach, which doesn’t work.

Alda’s presence is rather bland, but Carmen Silva who plays Anna his wife before he entered into the priesthood is a stunner. She appears nude in a rather gratuitous flashback segment that should more than appease any self-respecting voyeur.

The ending has a little more pizazz than the original as well where the Father goes into an empty mansion and tries to fight off the demon while having snakes thrown right at him. It’s not the best, but not the worse either.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: July 9, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Rated R

Directors: Mario Bava, Alfredo Leone

Studio: Peppercorn-Wormser Film Enterprises

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix streaming

Lisa and the Devil (1973)

lisa and the devil

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Where is the plot?

Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a tourist in Spain who gets lost and finds shelter inside a large mansion run by a butler Leandro (Telly Savalas) and a Countess (Alida Valli). Soon Lisa begins to experience strange occurrences and visions. People turn up dead and then alive again. When she tries to escape she finds that she can’t and is now stuck in a surreal world with no exit.

I am use to watching Italian horror films being strong on the visual end and weak with the plot, logic and character development especially when they attached to either Mario Bava or Dario Argento, but this one goes to the extreme. Nothing makes sense and scenes are thrown in haphazardly and go nowhere. The basic premise is too general and unfocused and the entire production seems to be an exercise in interesting camera work and nothing more. Yes there are a few atmospheric moments, but it all adds up to very little.

Had the special effects been gory or impressive I might have forgiven it, but for Bava standards they are lacking as well. For one thing there is very little gore to begin with and what we do see looks amateurish. The scene where a man gets run over by a car clearly looks like a mannequin and as the driver backs up and runs him over several more times it becomes even more obvious.

Sommer makes for a weak heroine. Her character is as vague and mysterious as all the others, so the viewer never gains any empathy or concern for her fate. Her short shoulder length haircut makes her look middle-aged and dowdy. Also, Sylvia Koscina her costar has facial features that are too similar to Elke’s and for a while I thought she was Elke with a brunette wig. Her best moment is actually her nude scene of which she looks great although I noticed her eye lids constantly fluttering when her character was supposedly asleep.

Normally I love Telly Savalas and he can be effectively menacing, but here he is sorely underused. The character pops in and out sporadically, but really doesn’t do much. I did like that he is constantly sucking on lollipops, which later became his trademark during his run on the ‘Kojak’ TV-series.

I was hoping for some grand over-the-top finale to make up for having to sit through all this, but it never came. The climax, which takes place inside a jet airliner no less, is as underwhelming as everything else. Not surprisingly this film was edited into a completely different story and reissued as The House of Exorcism, which will be reviewed tomorrow.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 9, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Rated R

Director: Mario Bava

Studio: Leone International

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix streaming

Nightmares (1983)

nightmares

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: These stories aren’t scary.

This film is made up of an anthology of horror tales that were originally made for the ‘Darkroom’ TV-show that ran from 1981 to ’82 on ABC and was hosted by James Coburn.  The network deemed these stories to be ‘too intense’ for television so Universal decided to make it into a feature film. Unlike the series there is no actor or host that ties the stories together, which is unfortunate as Coburn’s presence could have given it a little personality. The biggest reason I was interested to watch this was to see what was considered ‘too intense’ for television back in the early 80’s and after viewing it the answer is ‘not much’.

The first story is entitled “Terror in Topanga” and features a mental patient on the loose in a suburban town and a housewife named Lisa (Cristina Raines) who has run out of cigarettes and feels compelled to go out late at night to get some. The segment is predictable and pedestrian with a twist ending that is a big letdown. Christophe Crowe who wrote the story is married to Raines in real-life and the two teamed up a few years later for an episode entitled “Prisoners”, which aired on the 80’s version of ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ and is much, much better than this one and well worth seeking out.

“Bishop of Battle” makes up the second story and features Emilio Estevez as a teen obsessed with beating a video arcade game. This segment features the best visuals. I found the graphics that were used for the game were actually kind of impressive and fun to watch. Estevez is enjoyable as the tightly wound character and this segment also features Moon Zappa in a small part as well as Billy Jacoby (Jayne) who is the younger brother of famous child actor Scott Jacoby and looks just like him.

Lance Henriksen stars in the third story “The Benediction” as a priest who is grappling with his faith and thus decides to leave the ministry. As he starts out in his car on his journey to get away he finds himself being menaced by a black pick-up truck whose driver he cannot see and the two start to play a game of cat-and-mouse with their vehicles on a lonely stretch of desert highway. The scene where the pick-up bursts through the ground is the only interesting moment in what is otherwise a weak, uninspired rip-off of Duel.

The fourth and final story “Night of the Rat” is by far the worst. It pertains to a suburban family whose house becomes invaded by a giant demon-like rat. The special effects used to create the giant sized rodent are awful and would be almost comical if it weren’t so thoroughly botched and ridiculous. Veronica Cartwright who plays the perpetually nervous, high-strung mother gets a bit one-dimensional and irritating, but it is nice to see Bridgette Anderson as the daughter who later went on to star in Savannah Smiles before dying of a drug overdose at age 23.

The stories are flatly photographed with dull looking sets that have no cinematic quality to them and no business being on the big screen. This thing was given an R rating even though there is no swearing, or nudity and just the minimal of violence. I realize that the PG-13 rating was still a year away at the time, but this still should have been given a PG.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: September 2, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joseph Sargent

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD, YouTube

Nightmare (1981)

nightmare 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: This one gets grisly.

George Tatum (Baird Stafford) is a middle-aged man tormented by strange nightmares where he sees himself as a young child decapitating with an ax an older man and his female lover. The dreams have had such an adverse effect on him that it has sent him to the mental hospital, but now the doctors consider him cured and send him back out into the real world, but the dreams continue pushing him into a psychotic state where he murders a woman that he meets and then eventually starts menacing a family.

This film while not being a particularly good movie and still straddled with a lot of the expected low budget limitations has managed to achieve a strong cult following as well as a limited Blue Underground 30th Anniversary release due mainly to its explicit violence. While the body count isn’t high the gore is nasty and effective. One scene involves George knifing a woman and the camera cutting in real close to her slashed neck and we hear her literally gurgling on her own blood and then watch as he licks her blood off his hands in an aroused manner. The scene where the boy cuts the head off another woman is also well handled despite the fact that it looks too much like an empty mannequin’s head. Writer/director Romano Scavolini approaches it with an artistic flair and it works. Watching the boy, who couldn’t be much older than 10, drenched in blood and looking menacingly into a mirror is the film’s creepiest moment.

The wide array of locales also helps and takes this a step above most other films of this genre and time period. Scenes are shot on-location all the way from New York to South Carolina, Georgia, and even Florida where there is a nifty segment inside an abandoned house. I found George’s trip to an old-fashioned New York adult theater to be the most captivating. I liked the part where the male customers put a quarter in a slot, which raised a small yellow door that allowed the men to peer through a window at a stripper dancing, but instead of seeing it from the male point-of-view we see it from the stripper’s. I got a kick out of seeing several of these guys looking all wide-eyed at this naked woman through their little windows and as their time ran out and the little yellow door began to slide down over their peep holes they would strained their necks as far as they could through with what little opening was left to continue to gaze at her as long as possible.

The dialogue and characterizations were less cardboard than the usual slasher film. However, outside of the gore it is not very suspenseful. The scares are derivative and too much time is spent on the bratty C.J. trying to spook his babysitter and mother.

Although the film keeps things plausible for the most part I was a bit confused why the doctors at the hospital didn’t know about George’s violent past or why he was menacing the certain family that he was. They were able to track down his whereabouts and car, so why were they not able to do the same with his criminal and family background? Having this loophole hurts the film as it ends up seeming poorly thought out.

nightmare 1

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: October 23, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Romano Scavolini

Studio: 21st Century Film Corporation

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

nightmare on elm street 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Can’t get enough Freddy.

The last of the Elm Street children find themselves plagued by the same terrible nightmares and are now put into an institution where a grown-up Nancy (Heather Langen kamp) works as a dream therapist. It is found that Kristen (Patricia Arquette) has the ability to invite other people into her dreams, so the entire group goes into her nightmare and takes on Freddy (Robert Englund) as a team.

This third entry into the series proves to be one of the best. It makes the most creative use of the dream idea and shows a nice mix between horror and comedy. I enjoyed the camaraderie between the characters and how they seem to genuinely care and look out for each other. Freddy gets more screen time and has some  great lines. I wasn’t so sure how someone can invite others into her dreams, but for the most part it’s fun.

The special effects are imaginative. I liked the scene where Freddy lifts his shirt and exposes the crying faces of all the spirits of the dead children pushing out of his stomach. I also liked the shot showing the needle marks on the arm of a former heroin addict suddenly coming to life and going through the sucking motion like they are little mouths.

The best moment though is when Dick Cavett is seen on TV interviewing Zsa Zsa Gabor only to suddenly turn into Krueger while making the statement “Who gives a fuck what you think”.  The only negative is that the camera cuts away before we see Freddy slash her with his glove, which would have been icing on the cake.

I stated in my review of the first film in this series that Langenkamp is the best victim in a horror movie, which I think is still true, but Arquette, who makes her film debut here, has to come in as a close second. She has an appealing face and seems very much like a real teenager and you really got to admire her feistiness.  Jennifer Rubin as Taryn also makes her film debut and has one of the prettiest pair of blue eyes you will ever see.

Langenkamp for whatever reason seems a little stiff and awkward in her role although she improves as the film progresses and gets more into the dream sequences. I also didn’t like the streak of white hair that seems to hang down on the right side of her face. I wasn’t sure if this was added in to make her appear ‘more mature’, but it seemed out-of-place, unnecessary and even a bit distracting.

Craig Wasson who is a terrible actor and whose presence seriously hurt Body Double is cast as Neil one of the doctors in the clinic. Here I found him to be a little more tolerable simply for his perpetual looks of either confusion or concern that I think are the only two expressions that he is able to show.

I remember back in 1987 this was THE movie to see and be seen at amongst the teen crowd and how on opening night there was a line of teenagers going around the block to get in and me being the self-proclaimed film connoisseur was right at the front of it. I enjoyed the film very much at the time, but found upon second viewing that it didn’t grab me quite as much.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: February 27, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated R

Director: Chuck Russell

Studio: New Line Cinema

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Strait-Jacket (1964)

strait jacket

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Giving them the ax.

Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) comes home early one night from a trip only to find her husband Frank (Lee Majors in his film debut) in bed with another woman. This enrages her so much that she grabs an ax and chops off both of their heads all while in front of her young daughter.  After being institutionalized for 20 years she is released and sent home to live with her now grown daughter Carol (Diane Baker). Unfortunately the ax murders begin happening again and all signs seem to point to Lucy having a bad relapse.

Director William Castle keeps the proceedings compact enough to be entertaining, but borrows too many elements from Psycho and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? while also adding a few to many gimmicks. Having the setting take place on a rural hog farm gives it a little extra atmosphere. The wrap-up is nice, but halfway through the film I had already figured out the twist ending and thus making the final revelation not as shocking or interesting as I think the filmmakers intended.

I realize the gore factor here is quite sanitized when compared to today’s horror movies and yet the scene where Lucy axes her hubby is actually quite effective. We see the shadow of the husband’s body with his head popping off like a cork coming out of a wine bottle. Instead of cutting away like most other films do it cuts back to Joan’s face where she continues to whack and whack and whack while her eyes get wilder with rage, which in many ways makes this far better and more fun than most other ax wielding movie scenes.

The film also brings out an interesting loophole. Namely the fact that can a woman be considered crazy for wanting to chop off her husband’s head after finding out he is unfaithful or is she simply giving the two-timing cad his just desserts.

Baker is good in support and her face is adorable. Her restrained performance nicely compliments Crawford’s more hammy and histrionic one. In fact some may consider Crawford’s acting to be over-the-top and unintentionally funny, but on a camp level it is fun. I realize both her wig and clacking bracelets become a major plot point, but I disliked both. The wig makes her look too much like an old, haggard version of her famous Mildred Pierce character and the constant clacking from the bracelets becomes annoying.

It was interesting to see Leif Erickson cast as a family friend who tries to work with Lucy and her emotional instability as he was at one time the husband of Frances Farmer an actress who also suffered from mental illness and I kept one wondering the whole time whether he was channeling those experiences into his character here. George Kennedy can also be spotted, but his almost unrecognizable as he has jet black hair here, a much thinner frame, and a pair of buck teeth.

Probably the film’s best gimmick comes at the very end where the famous torch carrying lady on Columbia Pictures logo is seen with her head cut off and having it lying on the ground beside her feet.

Capture 334

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: January 19, 1964

Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes

Not Rated

Director: William Castle

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video