Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Experiment in TERROR Blu-ray (Twilight Time)

Experiment in Terror has not completely escaped my radar. Fantomas, the avant garde, super group spanning genre and subject matter, covered the theme music on their 2001 album, The Director’s Cut. The arrangement is haunting even though it dares to slam its way into your ear with a blistering guitar raking out your ear drum or with the liberties that Mike Patton takes with the lyric-less score, adding, of all things, words. It is this rendition of Henry Mancini’s classic score that I first heard and is responsible for my introduction to this picture. While it may be hard to believe after hearing my outright love of the score and cover there of, I have never actually watched the movie until now. Enter the newest Twilight Time offering on Blu-ray released January 15th.

Synopsis from Screen Archives

Focusing on a San Francisco working girl (Lee Remick) stalked by a wheezing psychopath (Ross Martin) intent on forcing her to rob the bank where she works…or else. Fearing for the safety of her younger sister (Stefanie Powers) even more than for her own, our heroine pluckily makes secret contact with an FBI agent (Glenn Ford), hoping to foil the psycho before he can carry out his sinister threats.


First off let me briefly discuss my feelings on the film as a newbie to this classic movie that jockeyed for the number one creep out of ’62 alongside a little movie known as Cape Fear.  To many fans of film noir and detective and gumshoe fare this will be old hat. Cat and Mouse featuring some classic Hollywood cinematography, scoring and acting, but I assure you that this is one of the movies that made the mold. It’s difficult to comment on a story that has been seemingly told so many times. In fact, the best way to get my feelings out about a Experiment in Terror is to discuss the actors.

Lee Remick is gorgeous and her portrayl of the heroin forced to make a rather terrifying moral decision is spot on. She plays a beautiful victim, but a stong beautiful victim. She isn’t a final girl by definition but you might draw inspiration from her character if you’re an aspiring young slasher film star. She’ll later go on to star in another horror favorite, The Omen, though with a less favorable outcome for her character. Glenn Ford aka Superman’s adopted daddy make a great G-man, is an exceptional actor and there’s nothing bad that can be said about Kalel’s daddy, less you get a super punch in the jubblies.  Perhaps the most surprising performance comes from Ross Martin as Garland Humphrey aka “Red Lynch”. For those of you unfamiliar with Martin, you might look back to a few episodes of the Twilight Zone for a refresher. Martin was a star of early TV showing up in just about everything. His portrayal as the antagonistic villain with homicidal intentions got my goat good. I think it’s safe to say that Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady is more aggressively terrifying, but the subtle, stalker of Martin’s Lynch, the calculated and intelligent adversary who is has your number so good you think you’re a 2 when you’re really a 13… it’s a different kind of scary. Real. Criminal. You think he’s dirty, but it’s just suggested that he’s filthy. You think he has the best of intentions, but he’s really just a controlling, manipulative madman.

The Blu-ray itself is a work of art as is the case with all of Twilight Time’s releases. The transfer looks gorgeous. Both audio and video are dressed for success. It comes with the characteristic Twilight Time insert that features handsome artwork from the film alongside some of the more pertinent notes to the film’s history. You won’t find many extras on the Twilight Time release, but you can be assured of its collectability.

You can pick it up HERE.

Please enjoy this classic for the first or fifth time, but make sure you do it with the lights low, with your honey on your arm, hand in the popcorn tub (Jiffy Pop’s okay this time fellas) and enjoy a haunting story that is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. One of the best opening shots of San Francisco ever put to film.


Enjoy the Fantomas’ rendering of the classic score here (Live from Montreal!):

Enjoy Mancini’s original here:

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