Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Homicidal - 1961

William Castle was a producer and a director much known for gimmicks being involved in his A, B and Z level horror films he put out. Some of these movies are pretty well known, such as House on Haunted Hill which had the gimmick of a skeleton with red lighted eye sockets which was attached to a wire, and floated over the audience in the final moments of some showings of the film, to parallel the action on screen when a skeleton rises from a vat of acid.

Homicidal is a pretty obvious Psycho ripoff, it being a horror murder mystery.  In the beginning, we see a mystery woman ask a man to marry her.  She offers him a few thousand dollars for about 15 minutes of work.  Then, after the short marriage session, she randomly pulls out a knife and stabs the minister like 8 times.  She bolts, trades cars, and is soon back at her home.  Home it seems is a caregiver job to an elderly woman who can't communicate besides knocking on wood.  

We soon learn that our main character Emily has some sort of evil plot in mind.  She mentions wanting revenge to the old elderly woman Helga.  Helga can understand her, just not express her knowledge.  We see Helga trying to warn others of Emily's evil, in many ways.  But Emily is always there to dismiss the knocking as meaning other things.  Emily trashes the store owned by Miriam, the sister of Emily's husband Warren.  Miriam is suspicious after catching Emily sneaking into her room.  Miriam is more and more convinced, and in the meantime Emily's murder of the minister is being pieced together.

This movie could've been decent I suppose, but honestly the gimmick was pretty bad and almost ruined it.  It's definitely a "product of it's time".  Here's the gimmick....   At about the hour and fifteen minute mark, Miriam is going into the house to finally confront Warren about Emily's behavior, and we as an audience know that Emily is in the house.  Slow movement as the camera nears the door of the house....  and then a clock appears on the screen.  We watch as the clock starts to count down from 30 seconds.  Then, William Castle's voice over tells us: "This is your chance to leave if you're too scared.  You have 20 seconds left..." etc.  If you make it to then end, he congratulates you for staying, saying you're brave. Really?  Really!  That's what this movie did. 

Spoilers now.  Then, the big reveal of the movie is that Warren is Emily.  Which, for me, was....um, kinda interesting I guess.  Not terrible.  It was original and it was not something I in particular saw coming.  In retrospect, it makes sense too, and they do explain it.  It makes her be a sympathetic villain also.  One thing though, which I kept wondering, why the whole intro with marrying the guy just to stab the minister?  Seriously, she left two eyewitnesses when she could've just found the minister some day and kill him.  I mean I get it, she did it to make Emily be the villain, but she didn't need to do it in that way.  Ah well.  Spoilers over.

It's not overly gimmicky, just the clock and a short intro piece by Castle also.  The clock is sort of funny now, and the intro piece is whatever.  I just read the Wikipedia article which states: "Time magazine said: "It surpasses Psycho in structure, suspense and sheer nervous drive".  Holy shit, someone actually liked this more than Psycho?!  That's gonna be the first and last time this movie gets favorable reviews over Psycho.  It wasn't BAD, it just certainly wasn't GOOD.  2 stars.

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