Thursday, August 20, 2015
Video Beaverhausen: Going Homicidal with William Castle
My favorite of the five flicks is Homicidal, Castle's 1961 rip-off of Hitchcock's Psycho. It has its own macabre charms, I think you'll find. Like the Hitchcock classic, it's gender-bending and very suspenseful, but has its own clever plot twists. Homicidal's hero is even portrayed by Glenn Corbett, the poor man's John Gavin.
Most riveting is the performance in the film by one Jean Arless. Arless is actually a pseudonym for actress Joan Marshall. Not sure, exactly, why she adopted this name exclusively for Homicidal. Jean sometimes reminds me of Lypsinka, other times like Doris Day's suppressed libido come to life.
After an opening sequence involving a little boy, a little girl and a doll, the film opens properly with a sequence in which the cool blonde Ms Arless checks into a hotel and propositions the young bellboy to marry her for two thousand dollars, promising the marriage will immediately be annulled. What ensues is the first in a series of shocking moments, especially near the climax, that carry the economically 90-minute film along at a brisk pace. The police get involved and an entire mystery involving a family inheritance begins to unravel.
I love Arless' interactions as "caregiver" to a woman named Helga (Eugenie Leontovich), crippled by a stroke, and who gets up and down stairs via motorized wheelchair lift. (One should note this film preceded Robert Aldrich's Baby Jane by two years.)
The other films on this collection are 13 Ghosts, 13 Frightened Girls, Mr Sardonicus and The Old Dark House.