Monday, June 5, 2017

What In The World Is Wrong With "TIME Magazine?????????????????"

                             The great horror schlockmeister, William Castle, made only one A-lister in his life, and those having been on here long enough know what that was--"Rosemary's Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                             Recently, while watching a trailer for his Joan Crawford classic, "Strait-Jacket" (because even a little of crazy bitch Lucy Harbin is better than none, girls!!!!!!) the advertisement mentioned an earlier film of Castle's, "Homicidal," from 1961.  It stated that "TIME Magazine" named this film either the Best Picture of 1961, or one of that year's Ten Best!!!!!!!!!!!

                             What?  Darlings, you have GOT to be kidding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               I first learned of this film when I was six years old.  We would drive up to Tomahawk Lake, way up in Sussex County, New Jersey, and pass through this other small town with a gorgeous lake, near which there was a small movie theater, playing eclectic fare like "Homicidal."  It was my first hearing of the word, I knew it had something to do with murder, and I loved to go around, saying this word, menacingly.

                               Isn't that just like me, girls???????????????????

                               My parents, of course, refused to let me see this film.  And I did not get a chance, until I was well into adulthood.  I saw it at the Film Forum, and it was a hoot.

                                 It is about someone who is "homicidal," especially toward women.  But are there one or two killers?  Two key characters are Emily and Warren, who are one and the same.  Even a six-year-old today could see there was something unusual looking about her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   As for Warren, well it is better if he not be shown. He looks like an outtake from the instructional film of this era, "Boys Beware!"  You know, a child molesting fag who hangs outside boys rooms--but with a bad case of denture work!  Oh, my God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    You see, Warren's father hated women.  And when Warren was born a boy, the gender identity was swiped, making it appear he was a girl, so he would inherit his father's money.  Warren eventually transforms (but not trans-genders) into Emily, and come back to murder all who would stand in the way of her now dead father's inheritance.

                                      It is simply a hoot, darlings!  Vintage William Castle! And decades before "The Crying Game!!!!!!"  Yet "TIME Magazine"--I looked this up--said it was "more structurally brilliant than 'Psycho'."  Can you believe it?  And yes, this was named one of the year's Ten Best by TIME, if not THE best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                       Imagine--this was the year of  "Judgment At Nuremberg," "West Side Story," "Two Women," "Splendor In The Grass," "La Dolce Vita," and "Summer And Smoke!!!!!!!!!!!!"  And TIME  picks "Homicidal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                        I always thought there was something decidedly Right Wing about the mag, all through the Sixties.  There was certainly something wrong, back then, with its film criticism department.

                                         Putting this trash among the Ten Best!

                                         Girls, it's enough to drive one to kill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Videolaman said...

Leave "Homicidal" alone, RQ: you just leave it alone! Its glorious fun! "Psycho" without the deeply disturbing emotional identification trickery. (Of course I love "Psycho" and have memorized every word of the script, but it can be a bit of a slog unless you're really in the mood for its penetrating "dark night of the soul" beats.)

"Homicidal" all but disappeared off everyone's radar by the late 1970s, having dropped out of circulation, while other Castle triumphs received far more attention. Despite being a huge fan of Castle's schlock operas, I never knew of "Homicidal" until 1984 when my very first gay friend showed me a bootleg VHS copy he had obtained (Lord, how did we track this stuff down before the internet?)

I was totally hooked from the first frame. Or should I say, from the first closeup of Glenn Corbett: OMG! Those eyes! That voice! If Hugh O'Brien and Rod Taylor had a love child, it would have been Glenn Corbett. Gave me the vapors, he did. Of course, "Emily" seemed highly suspicious and engrossing right off the bat, and Jean Arless' performance just keeps ratcheting further out on a limb as the scenes progress (a very underrated actress: she's quite wonderful in this mess).

Unique among William Castle's derivative oeuvre, "Homicidal" delights in tweaking its source material. "Psycho" is the work of a genius, but laborious at times, where "Homicidal" is nimble and quicker-witted satire: more subtle and sly than purple tripe like "Straightjacket" while avoiding some of the ponderous traps "Psycho" chronically stumbles into.

Castle even manages to seamlessly fold in a searing critique of Patricia Hitchcock's appearances in her fathers films by cannily casting lookalike Patricia Breslin as the target of "Emily's" wrath. The poisonous exchanges between Arless and Breslin are the highlights of "Homicidal", topped only by the increasingly unhinged one-sided tirades Emily unleashes on deaf, mute, crippled Helga.

Castle's version of the oft-maligned "psychiatric exposition" anti-climax of "Psycho" transcends mere mockery, with the phlegmatic Dr. Jonas somberly intoning "We lost track of Warren and Helga in Denmark: what happened there, we'll never know" (the audience knows, of course: Warren put on a dress, became the neurotic paranoid Emily, bashed Helga into a wheelchair, and partied with Christine Jorgensen).

Unfortunately "Homicidal" is one of those films whose enjoyment is dimmed (if not extinguished) by modern high definition home video and theater projection. A huge part of the fun and thrill is the Warren/Emily puzzle, which I honestly tumbled for the first time I saw it on a 19" TV screen. The reveal after the "fright break" had me rolling with surprise and glee. Nowadays on a large screen, the whole jig is up the first time Warren walks into a fully-lit scene: the illusion collapses immediately, and Helen Keller could predict the next 90 minutes.

Still worth a watch, if only to gaze longingly at Glenn Corbett and marvel at the baroque Scandinavian architecture in Solvang, California.

The Raving Queen said...

All you say is true. But those teeth!
"Strait-Jacket" is magnificent trash,
but never would I put it on a ten best list!
So, why did TIME go crazy over this!

It should be seen more often. I saw it at
the Film Forum 15-20 years ago!