Tuesday, October 31, 2006


This Hammer thriller has elements of PSYCHO and DIABOLIQUE and works well enough for most of its length. The film has a great opening sequence of a young girl (Jennie Linden) being led through shadowy hallways by the voice of her mother, who traps her in an asylum cell. This turns out to be a recurring nightmare of Linden's, who years ago witnessed her insane mother stab her father to death. Her boarding school decides to send her home to her guardian (David Knight) for treatment to ease the dreams. Once there, however, she is haunted by a ghostly vision of a woman in white that no one else seems to see, and also by a tableau reminiscent of her father's death. When Knight's new wife arrives, she looks just like the creepy ghost, and Linden promptly stabs her to death and is sent off to an asylum, just as her dreams seemed to foretell. Of course, this is just the first half of the proceedings, and we soon learn that things and people aren't what they seem. When Linden escapes and heads for home, matters build to a fairly effective climax. Even if the plot does become predictable, it is fun to figure out who wants to help Linden and who wishes her harm. Chief among these folks is Brenda Bruce as a guardian from the boarding school, and Moira Redmond as Linden's companion and nurse. Linden has a few too many repetitious scenes of hysteria in the first half, though generally the acting is OK. The moody black and white cinematography is a plus. [DVD]


Routine Italian gothic thriller with the queen of 60's horror, Barbara Steele, in a dual role. This isn't exactly a bad movie, but it has nothing to make it stand out of the pack. Paul Muller is your average mad scientist married to your average dark-haired knockout (Steele), and engaging in your average arcane experiments involving reversing the human aging process. When he discovers that his wife is having an affair with the hired help (Rik Battaglia), he tortures them, kills them, and pulls out and preserves their hearts. He uses their blood to turn his aging assistant (Helga Line) young, and then, I think, takes her as his lover, but discovers that his wife's will leaves the castle to her nutty twin sister (also Steele, in a bad blonde wig). When she arrives, he seduces her and plans to drive her completely over the edge, but it turns out that the strange ghostly figures she reports seeing are actually the ghosts of the dead lovers. The acting is indifferent, the sets are cheap, and the atmosphere is so-so, but if you stick with it, the pace does pick up in the last half-hour and things build to a decent climax. Mostly for Barbara Steele fans. [DVD]

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