Five Favorite Things:: The Psychopath (1966) By Unk

Director Freddie Francis’ 1966 Robert Bloch (PSYCHO) penned murder mystery THE PSYCHOPATH is so up my alley, I feel almost sad that I did not encounter it earlier in life. Sure, now as an adult I can appreciate it on a multitude of levels I may have missed before but this is the type of flick I wish I could have stumbled across late at night on TV in my impressionable (and easily freaked-out) youth. Alas, this movie successfully avoided me for decades and we bumped heads only a handful of years ago. Still, it’s found a permanent place in my heart so here are five reasons I dig it so…

THEM DAMN DOLLS. Yikes. Every time some poor soul gets murdered in this movie, the killer leaves a doll that looks like the victim next to their corpse. If that doesn’t unnerve you enough, meet Mrs. Von Sturm (Margaret Johnston) the fishy-acting suspect whose entire house is overrun by dollies of all varieties, some that inexplicably rock and move and a few who seem to look directly through the camera at the viewer.

MRS. VON STURM. BURN, WITCH, BURN (aka NIGHT OF THE EAGLE)’s Margaret Johnston portrays Mrs. Von Sturm, a German, wheelchair utilizing doll fanatic with scores to settle and a harpy-esque disposition. It doesn’t matter if she’s a red haring or fully responsible for the death and mayhem; in either case she steals the entire movie with her campy hysterics, questionable decorating skills, and bizarre inanimate brood.

THE CINEMATOGRAPHY. What a gorgeous, colorful, eye–pleasing flick this is thanks to frequent Freddie Francis (say that 3 times fast) collaborator John Wilcox (NIGHTMARE, THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE SKULL). Apparently, THE PSYCHOPATH was a huge hit in Italy in particular which makes a hell of a lot of sense, as it appears cut from the same vibrant cloth as the painterly works of Mario Bava.

MADDENING MUSIC BOX TUNES. Speaking of Italian cinema, nobody can tell me Dario Argento wasn’t somewhat inspired by THE PSYCHOPATH (especially in the case of DEEP RED). There’s this crazy-making music chime refrain that returns over and over again and its blood-curdling creepiness would fit so snuggly and at home within the master’s bag of tricks.

CREEPMASTER ROBERT BLOCH. Y’all know I’m loath to spoil a film’s ending, so I’ll keep my lips as tight as possible. Let’s just say the author of PSYCHO delivers a revelation by the film’s closing that’s slow burn shocking and spine-chilling (in more ways than one). In fact, the more you think about exactly what is implied and what one character nearly endures, it’s sicker than any occurrences at the Bates Hotel. That’s it. I’ll say no more. Just count me in as significantly and happily disturbed.

Name That Trauma:: Meg N. on a Fire Safety Film

Hi there! For years I’ve been trying to find a fire safety film I watched in elementary school back in 2003. Here’s what I’ve managed to remember from the movie:

I remember the camera zoomed into the fire as she was screaming and there was knocking heard at the door. I also remember one of the scenes after the fire was of the girl (I think her name was Jamie) walking down a hospital hallway covered from head to toe in bandages like a mummy, walking with a walker. Another scene I remember is of her and her mom in either her bedroom or a hospital room and she was asking her mom if she could take her bandages off because they were hot and itchy. Other friends of mine remember it as well, but none of us can find it. Hope someone here can help!

Meg N.

Godzilla Vs Kong (2021)

As far as let downs go, GODZILLA VS KONG isn’t so bad. It delivers some true eye-popping spectacle or maybe I’m just the easiest mark when it comes to buildings being destroyed and flashy neon colors. I wonder if it’s possible I might have enjoyed it more if I was able to see it in my beloved (but now dead-by-Covid) local movie theater? Maybe. On the other hand, I didn’t mind watching in sweats with a fridge full of beer either. Ah, why blame the victim (me) though? The sad truth is that this is a movie that does a great job with monsters destroying things and a terrible job creating anything remotely human. I’m a big disaster movie fan so I’m not asking for much as far as characterization goes. I just need a few quick but juicy brush strokes. I’m not looking for more backstory, more info or more time spent with the characters; I just need them not to be dried out charmless husks. I’m curious if anyone can confirm if director Andrew Wingard appeared younger after filming because it truly appears that he sucked the life energy from his cast.

We all want to see the monsters fight its true. We all know going in that we’re going to have to endure a bunch of scenes with people looking at maps and computers speaking gobley-goop. It’s an agreement we all sign up for. Usually in a well done film the downtime works to create anticipation for the promised eye-candy and may even accentuate the eventual cathartic release random destruction brings. But GVK seems to take it a couple dozen painful steps further and the non-action scenes play like dead air and white noise. I’d say every other movie in this monster –verse series (GODZILLA, KONG: SKULL ISLAND, GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS) dealt with pretty much the same format but were still able to install a sense of wonder and a variety of good and bad human-types to get behind or root against. I’m not sure how nothing remotely like that happens here. To render Rebecca Hall uninteresting, Alexander Starsgard uncharismatic and Millie Bobbie Brown a dead weight is really some sort of unholy cinematic alchemy.

This is a flick that introduces something called the “hollow earth” a stupid concept that a Saturday morning cartoon would be embarrassed to try to sell and yet it’s sadly appropriate for such an empty vessel. GODZILLA VS KONG is beautiful, mighty beautiful. There are some incredible visuals that brilliantly call back Bava’s PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES but I’d almost rather check them out in a special effects reel. Again, I don’t think I’m asking for much just to have the bare minimum of believable story and at least remotely relatable characters. Heck, I don’t even think my pal Godzilla came across very well, somehow he even seemed like he was there to pick up a paycheck and split and he’s (to the best of my knowledge) pure CGI; how does one suck the energy out of something that isn’t even alive? Oh well, I loved the fight against the backdrop of neon buildings in Hong Kong, In fact, I’d say its worth the price of admission alone, I guess. Plus there’s a pretty nifty surprise special guest star monster I was Mecha-delighted to see. Maybe next time add a puppy in peril though and give me something to wring my hands about.