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The Psychopath

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the psychopath freddie francis

The Psychopath (working title: Schizo) is a 1965 (released 1966) British horror film directed by Freddie Francis and written by Robert Bloch (Psycho) for Amicus. It stars Patrick Wymark (Repulsion; The SkullThe Blood on Satan’s Claw), Margaret JohnstonJohn Standing (Torture Garden), Alexander Knox (The Damned), Judy Huxtable (Scream and Scream Again; Die Screaming Marianne), Thorley Walters (Dracula: Prince of Darkness; Twisted Nerve; Vampire Circus), Robert Crewdson (The Night Caller), Colin Gordon, Tim Barrett, Frank Forsyth, Olive Gregg, Harold Lang (Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors), Gina Gianelli (The Deadly Bees), Peter Diamond.

This murder mystery contains elements of Edgar Wallace and is, in effect, a British giallo (albeit one scripted by an American writer), made just a year after Mario Bava’s seminal Blood and Black Lace. The distinctive score is by Elisabeth Lutyens (Paranoiac; The Earth Dies Screaming; The Skull).

Plot synopsis:

A cynical police inspector (Wymark) investigates a string of murders where the victims have dolls attached to their bodies. The trail soon leads to one Mrs. Von Sturm (Johnston), who knows a set of dark secrets that may hold the key to the murders…

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Reviews:

“It is pretty obvious from the beginning who the psycho is, because she plays with dolls, and shuts out the world, though the movie has a rather simple twist that fends us off from solving the mystery until the end. But if you read the tea leaves of the art direction, however, it is clear from the very first moment when the inspector comes to the house of Von Sturm, that there is a problem. When he knocks on the door, it has a large Most Dangerous Game knocker on it, a sign that the head of the house is a manipulative killer…” rmarts

The Psychopath isn’t the best film from neither Francis or Bloch, but if you tend to enjoy moderately twisted sixties thrillers or just yet another production from Amicus, this might be something for you.” Ninja Dixon

“The colours seem to have been ruined in the laboratory, and except for a suitably shocking opening sequence depicting a long-drawn-out murder, and an effective chase scene in a deserted boathouse, Francis’s direction has little to recommend it.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Enclycopedia: Horror

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” … while it’s tempting to lump The Psychopath in with the suspense films being released throughout the 1960s in England, like those from Hammer … it’s difficult to deny that the film’s macabre, sensational palette stands out in garish contrast. Again the word to drum up is “pulpy”: The Psychopath feels vivid and hastily sketched in a way that the Italian gialli of the ’60s-’70s always do and that the polished British psychological thrillers never do. In many ways, I see The Psychopath anticipating in 1966 the tonal and stylistic path along which the giallo would develop in a few brief years when filmmakers like Lenzi, Argento, and Martino began solidifying the formula.” Nessun Timore

“The waxen effigies sculpted by Irene Blair Hickman are impressive. The opening murder is a hypnotically drawn out sequence in which there is continuous gentle movement, be it by the camera or within the frame, in pans to the right, in static shots of a car window winding up and a tyre going down, all of this beautifully pointed and paced by cinematographer John Wilcox. The car prowls the victim Klemer just as later the noose will stalk Ledoux (Robert Crewdson) through the junkyard. Patrick Wymark is, as ever, a solid presence as Holloway, and there are some strong supporting performances (Johnston, Standing, Crewdson, Knox and Thorley Walters) but the lead couple are bland.” Paul Higson, The Shrieking Sixtes: British Horror Films 1960 – 1969

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Buy The Shrieking Sixtes: British Horror Films 1960 – 1969 book from Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Choice dialogue:

Mrs. Von Sturm: “Years can be cruel… but not as cruel as men!”

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Wikipedia | IMDb

We are most grateful to Zombos’ Closet for posting the press book online (reproduced above). Visit Zombos’ site and enjoy other visual delights

 

 



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