Friday, December 12, 2008


(100% Weird alert!!!) At a large seaside hotel, there's been a rash of lovely blond women skipping out on their bills. But when house dick David Bailey starts investigating, he finds out that these women are actually missing, and foul play by some hotel employee is suspected. A stab is made at presenting a handful of suspects, including Edd Byrnes as a beach bum who works part-time as a waiter, but we learn very quickly that the psycho killer is young handyman Randolph Roberts, who was abused by both his blond mother and a later blond mother-figure. By chance, Bailey's ex-wife, Tiffany Bolling, shows up as a lounge singer doing a gig at the hotel, and when she puts on a blond wig, she attracts the attention of Roberts. In the finale, we find out that Roberts, an amateur embalmer, has been cutting up his victims and sewing their parts back together, and of course he plans to do the same with Bolling, until Bailey and the cops arrive in the nick of time.

This is basically a retread of PSYCHO that plays out like a TV-movie, with one big gimmick: it was filmed in "Duo-Vision," which means the entire film is in split-screen. This doesn't come off as badly as one might think. Sometimes, we get the point of view of the killer on one side and the would-be victim on the other. Sometimes we get a person relating a flashback on one side while what really happened is played out on the other. (Its best use, however, comes as a visual joke during a sex scene.) The problem with the gimmick is that it isn't needed; the style doesn't seem organic to the tale, as though Duo-Vision was randomly applied to the script for the heck of it. However, the real problem with the film is the acting, which is mostly weak. Bailey overacts; Bolling, a Playboy model, underacts and is terrible (though she did eke out a career as a B-movie star); Scott Brady, as a cop, is totally forgettable. Arthur O'Connell is OK as the handyman's boss, and Madeline Sherwood (Sally Field's Mother Superior on The Flying Nun) does a decent job as an eccentric older lady in danger of being kicked out the hotel until Roberts comes to her aid. Roberts comes off the best, doing a less neurotic variation on Norman Bates. Poor Edd Byrnes (77 Sunset Strip's Kookie) is around just long enough to be a red herring before he gets in an accident and spends the rest of the movie in a coma. Overall, this movie was better than most of the reviews out there indicate—and it's certainly better than the bomb rating that Leonard Maltin gives it—but don't lose sleep if you never catch it. [TCM]

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

Sounds just weird enough to appeal to me!