HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
   
 
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
   
 
  Psychopath, The Twice Around The Bloch
Year: 1966
Director: Freddie Francis
Stars: Patrick Wymark, Margaret Johnson, John Standing, Alexander Knox, Judy Huxtable, Don Borisenko, Thorley Walters, Robert Crewdson, Colin Gordon, Tim Barrett, Frank Forsyth, Olive Gregg, Harold Lang, Gina Gianelli, Peter Diamond, John Harvey, Greta Farrer
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The members of this string quartet meet every week or so to play, but tonight they are one man down as one of their number has not shown up, without so much as an explanation. They receive this when Inspector Holloway (Patrick Wymark) appears at the door and breaks the bad news to them: the fourth member has been murdered: he was forced to walk to the house, and along the way someone cornered him in a stolen car and ran him over a few times, killing him. The only clue as to what the motive could be is a small, wooden doll found next to the body which is dressed in a likeness of his clothes, and has a head carved in the same way. Obviously, a psychopath is loose...

Robert Bloch once said he would rather be known as the man who wrote the Bible than the man who wrote Psycho but considering how often he returned to that well of inspiration, this albatross may not have been as bad as all that. This film, one of those he penned for Amicus in Britain, was closer to his Psycho plot than some, which left the identity of the murderer easier to guess than he may have preferred, and for decades it was considered under the shadow of that Alfred Hitchcock classic, a poor second. These days, on the other hand, The Psychopath is judged by an alternative criterion, that of how it matched up to the horror-thrillers produced on the Continent.

The Hitchcock movie inspired a plethora of other movies, not least in Italy where its mixture of mystery, shocks, thrills and sleazy plot was extremely influential, with many directors clamouring to be known as the Italian Hitchcock as a result. The giallo thrillers, as they became known, in turn became influential themselves, with a huge amount created not only in Italy but in other European countries also, though as this particular example was arriving fairly early in the cycle it's debatable how much Bloch was affected by them and how far he was delving into his own imagination to concoct the nasty suspense and sick twists that would mark out the work of his imitators.

That said, there was a sense of The Psychopath aping the Edgar Wallace thrillers that were enormously popular in Europe at the time, and were a precursor to the giallos, even if Bloch's signature moves were all over the screenplay. He was an expert at psychological maladjustment in his villains, who were often rather pathetic creatures, the culprit here who is bumping off the string quartet plainly not right in the head, and simple enough to spot, though they did manage a last act twist that tipped what had been a crime drama over into outright shocker, and a bizarre one at that. This was the movie that, if you've seen it, you'll recall for its grim joke of the character who gets engulfed in ship chains, an image which then cuts to a plate of spaghetti, not that the film traded in much humour.

The dolls were a macabre touch, something perhaps worthy of Agatha Christie, though she was often too genteel to truly get to grips with the harrowing business of killing people as Bloch would depict it. Freddie Francis was the director, the great cinematographer finding lucrative opportunities at the helm of horror movies, despite his claim he was not a major fan of the genre, he simply liked to work, and he operated well with the widescreen compositions, especially in the sets of the boatyard and the doll-filled home of Margaret Johnston. Johnston was a respected stage actress here playing a potential suspect, except she's in a wheelchair, but her hammy performance and terrible German accent were entertaining for the wrong reasons. Wymark was good value as usual, and among the cast were John Standing as Johnston's son and Judy Huxtable as the daughter of one of the victims, so if this was never going to be groundbreaking, it was at least professional and fairly absorbing, underrated even. Music, appropriately music box-flavoured, by Elisabeth Lutyens.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1303 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Freddie Francis  (1917 - 2007)

A much respected cinematographer for decades, British Francis made his way up from camera operator on films like The Small Back Room, Outcast of the Islands and Beat the Devil to fully fledged cinematographer on such films as Room at the Top, Sons and Lovers (for which he won his first Oscar), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and The Innocents (a masterpiece of his art).

He then turned to direction, mostly in the horror genre, with familiar titles like Paranoiac, Nightmare, The Evil of Frankenstein, Dr Terror's House of Horrors (the first recognisable Amicus chiller anthology), The Skull, The Psychopath, Torture Garden, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, camp favourite Trog, Tales from the Crypt, The Creeping Flesh, Tales that Witness Madness, Legend of the Werewolf and The Ghoul.

Late in his career, he returned to cinematography with David Lynch's The Elephant Man, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Dune, Glory (winning his second Oscar), the Cape Fear remake and The Straight Story, his final work and one of his greatest.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: