John Haloran heads out on the lake because he feels like rowing at night and his unloving wife goes with him. Just as he points out that if he dies before his mother, she gets nothing, he promptly drops dead of a heart attack. So Louise tips him overboard and fakes some business trip to Europe to give her time to work some sort of scheme to get his mother's will changed. However his mother is a little strange, in perpetual mourning for her late daughter Kathleen, who drowned in the lake at a young age seven years earlier.
Back in the sixties what seems like every future luminary in Hollywood was making movies for Roger Corman. Francis Ford Coppola was just Francis Coppola at the time and he was assisting Corman on The Young Racers as second unit director. When he asked for permission to direct a movie of his own on the same set and with the same cast, Corman agreed on the single condition that he not impact his own shooting schedule. So, here are William Campbell and Luana Anders and Patrick Magee, making a second movie back to back with the official Corman film.
Coppola directed the film and also co-wrote it with Jack Hill, exploitation maestro of the seventies. It's interesting to see the early talent of a man who only nine years and four films later had become the man behind The Godfather, still currently the greatest film of all time according to IMDb voters. It's slow but has some atmosphere to it, as Louise tries all she can to convince her mother-in-law that she's some sort of kindred spirit, attuned to the ghost of young Kathleen. It also gradually draws us in to a large degree.
As much as Louise is the focus early on, it's Patrick Magee's character that dominates later. He's the family doctor who doesn't hold back from telling anyone whatever he wants to tell them. He's also fascinated by what's been tormenting the family over the last number of years and has a grand old time blurting and suggesting and gently teasing truth out of them. The end doesn't come as a huge surprise but it's an interesting ride to get there, and to be fair the slasher film was not exactly well defined in 1963, making this a very early example of the genre. It certainly highlighted Coppola as someone to watch, but who would have guessed just how far he would climb.
Huh? An A-Z of Why Classic American Bad Movies Were Made
(front cover by Eric Schock of Evil Robo Productions)
Velvet Glove Cast in Iron: The Films of Tura Satana
(front cover by Keith Decesare of KAD Creations)
|I'm climbing the stairway to Cinematic Heaven to review everything in the IMDb Top 250 List, supposedly the greatest motion pictures of all time. Are they really? Find out here.|
|I'm also driving the highway to Cinematic Hell for the awesome folks at Cinema Head Cheese to post a review a week of the very worst films of all time. These are so bad that they make Uwe Boll look good.|
|I'm reviewing everything shown at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, now in its 9th year. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 films and to my reviews of all 2012 films.|
|I'm also going to review everything I can from the Phoenix Film Festival, now in its 13th year. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 films.|
|I reviewed all films shown at the independent horror film festival, Phoenix FearCon, now in its 5th year. Here's an index to my 2012 festival reviews.|