Combustible Celluloid
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With: Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, Eugenie Leontovich, Alan Bunce, Richard Rust, James Westerfield, Gilbert Green, Jean Arless
Written by: Robb White
Directed by: William Castle
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 87
Date: 06/01/1961

Homicidal (1961)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Gift of Stab

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Homicidal (1961) was director William Castle's deliberate tribute to/ripoff of Hitchcock's Psycho. A weird, pretty blonde woman, Emily (Jean Arless) hires a handsome bellhop to "marry" her. It turns out that she's more interested in stabbing the justice of the peace to death than in matrimony. She returns to her home, where she cares for an old lady invalid Helga (Eugenie Leontovich). We meet Miriam Webster (Patricia Breslin), who runs a flower shop and is dating pharmacist Karl (Glenn Corbett). We also meet Miriam's creepy half-brother Warren, who is about to inherit their evil father's estate. Essentially, there's a murder and someone's responsible, and Castle tries to keep the secret from us as long as possible. I have to admit, it's a pretty good twist, and it's one that intensely impressed Michael J. Weldon of Psychotronic Video, who counts this as one of his favorite films. Castle's style is very clean and even, almost as if he were shooting for television, though the film is also neatly paced and economic. The gimmick on Homicidal was a "fright break." Just as one character is about to enter the house where the killer is hiding, the audience is given a ticking clock; if they can't stand the suspense, they can retreat to "coward's corner."

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