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Homicidal (1961).

April 14, 2009

The Scoop:
Producer/huckster extraordinaire William Castle’s attempt to cash in on the success of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is actually surprisingly good in its own right.

A young woman returns to her family mansion in a small town to claim her half of an inheritance. However, her brother and their elderly nanny’s caretaker (don’t ask) have other ideas.

Even though the killer is identified in the first 10 minutes, the script keeps the viewer guessing about motives until the end, and the sly visual references to “Psycho” make the blatant plot appropriations more palatable.

This is all enough on it’s own to make a fun film, but then there’s Castle’s gimmick this time around. It’s the “fright break,” in which the film pauses for 45 seconds right before the climactic scene to that viewers who are too scared can retreat to the lobby and stand in the “Coward’s Corner.”

Shot in the cheesy tourist trap town of Solvang, California, “Homicidal” also features one of the most dysfunctional cinematic families this side of “Spider Baby,” as well as a great, campy performance by Joan Marshall.

It’s films like this that give B-movies a good name.

Best Bit:
Karl, the nerdy hero (played by Glenn Corbett), overreacts to some minor vandalism in the flower shop: “What kind of mind would do something like this? More like an animal than a human being!”

Side Note:
The bathrobe worn by the justice of the peace was reused by Castle for the 1963 film “13 Frightened Girls!”

Companion Viewing:
“Psycho” (1960) and “Die, Mommie, Die!” (2003).


Take a Look:
The low budget trailer:

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