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Monday, October 21, 2013

HOMICIDAL (Sony Choice Collection): William Castle's Response to Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock was a genius; William Castle was a showman. That's what stuck with me after watching the featurette on the new Sony Choice Collection release of Castle's Homicidal on DVD. The plot devices aren't mirror images, but admittedly there are similarities between Homcidal and Psycho. That Psycho is the better movie not in dispute, but Homcidal isn't without merit or innovation. It has a strong lead, plenty of juiced up gore and violence as well as a classic Castle gimmick to get and keep the asses in the seat.

Synopsis:

A vicious murder of a justice of the peace leads the police to Solvang, California, where the murderer, Emily (Jean Arless, Shampoo), lives. As we delve into Emily’s life, we see her erratic relationships with her family and friends, and we learn about an inheritance worth millions. A movie considered to be so scary that it had a “Fright Break,” allowing the audience to leave the theater before the terrifying and shocking ending, HOMICIDAL is a scary thrill ride.

Trailer:


This type of movie comes by us as a direct result of the success of Psycho. The killer who is not simply a maniac, but who suffers from a psychological issue that is forced to kill and carry on a duel life starts to pop up everywhere after Janet Leigh takes a shower. What is fantastic about a movie like Homicidal is that it toys with the audience's sense of orientation. The entire movie you watch a woman kill and suffer through issues beyond the camera's eye. You don't fully understand at any point what the punchline will be, but with the Castle specifically drawing the comparison to Psycho, you know it will be bold. It will be shocking. You'll even need to erect a coward corner in the theater and throw a stop clock up on the screen to give the audience time to ready themselves for the finale. 

(Spoiler coming up)

While Castle's gimmicks and showmanship didn't always live up to the pomp and gusto with which he sold them to his audiences, Homicidal actually did manage to exert its shock, though not to the point of heart attack or any other medical condition. Jean Arless plays both the male and female lead in the film who are, of course, one and the same. It's difficult to suspect and apparently the first time that this type of switcheroo had happened in this order (female actress playing male who dresses up like a female and kills). Having seen Homicidal some time ago, I remembered the twist but had forgotten that the same person played both roles not unlike Anthony Perkins in Psycho though clearly different and less subdued than the role of Bates.

(End spoilers)

This release contains a brief featurette discussing the film, and how it came about as well as the premiere night, interview reel with patrons at the screening featuring William Castle himself. As a fan of Castle, this is the kind of feature I ache for on his release. Quality is fine, though it is important to note the following:

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.

This product is expected to play back in DVD Video "play only" devices, and may not play in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives.


It's not a collectible disc per say due to this reproduction style,but it is a nice way to enjoy the picture. That leads me to my next issue. This disc sells for about twenty bucks; it's a bit expensive for a DVD-R release that isn't archival quality with only a couple extra features. 


-Dr. TERROR

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