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  Schizo Skating On Thin Ice
Year: 1976
Director: Pete Walker
Stars: Lynne Frederick, John Leyton, Stephanie Beacham, John Fraser, Jack Watson, Queenie Watts, Trisha Mortimer, Paul Alexander, Robert Mill, Colin Jeavons, Victor Winding
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Samantha (Lynne Frederick) is a successful ice skater who announces her plans for marriage to carpet factory boss Alan (John Leyton) in the newspaper. Unbeknownst to her, a man from her turbulent past sees the article, and makes his way down to London to confront her. At the wedding reception, he poses as a dishwasher, but sneaks a machete under a napkin next to the wedding cake; just as he is about to push the sweet trolley to Samantha and Alan's table, the head waiter stops him, and the man flees. But not before Samantha is confronted with the machete, which is encrusted with blood, and she realises that she is being stalked...

This sensitively titled horror was written by David McGillivray, and was pretty much an update of all those psychological chillers that arrived in the wake of Psycho during the sixties. The difference here being the more elaborate, and gorier, murders that follow the heroine around as she grows more paranoid that her life is in danger, looking ahead to the slasher boom. She has a dark secret in her past that she has not even confided to her new husband: her mother died when she was a little girl, but it wasn't through natural causes, no, she was killed by her abusive lover as Samantha, then called Jean, watched in terror.

And the man who Samantha believes is stalking her is the man who she saw killing her mother, so naturally the newlywed thinks she is next on his list. A brief voiceover at the beginning informs us of the nature of schizophrenia in ridiculously sensationalised terms, so we think, of course, that this man is a dangerous sufferer, and sure enough, he has just secured a parole from prison. But all is not what it seems, and soon everyone is a suspect when one of Samantha's friends, a psychiatrist (John Fraser), is murdered in his car, apparently by one of his patients.

You'll have seen enough of this type of thing to know that it's not going to be as straightforward as it appears at the outset, but instead of intriguing you, the plot grows frustrating when the obviousness of the red herring is revealed. Nevertheless, the suspense sequences are piled on pretty thick, toying with your expectations, so that Samantha is menaced in her home when she's alone (there's a shower scene with echoes of Psycho, surely intentional?), and out and about, even in the mundane surroundings of the local supermarket.

Unfortunately that supermarket business should alert you to the twist in the tale, making the plot developments with the suspects redundant. Is Alan jealous of his wife? Is Samantha's best friend (Stephanie Beacham) jealous of her boyfriend? And how strong do you need to be to push a knitting needle through someone's head? And how strong would the knitting needle have to be, for that matter? Anyway, while there is enough grim nastiness to keep you interested, and a seance that sees an unusual (for director Walker) foray into the supernatural is a highlight, there are no surprises, despite the energetic efforts of the script, which eventually turns silly, more concerned with effect than logic. I don't want to give anything away, but when we find out what really happened all those years ago, it wouldn't have been that difficult to intervene at the time, would it? Still, if Schizo had been more sober, it might have been a trifle dull. Music by Stanley Myers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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