BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Psychopath (1966) - Blu-ray Review

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Psychopath (1966) - Blu-ray Review

Movie Review

3 beersDolls, why’d it have to be dolls?

At seventeen minutes into this thriller, we get to see an investigator – already at a loss for the murders happening – stumble into a red room that is full of some of the most disturbing dolls you have ever seen. Up close in one that is dressed like a nun, complete with a large golden cross hanging around her neck. The effect of this scene, especially considering the movie’s surrounding as a mystery, is completely off-putting and dynamically whacked. Seriously. This scene is, in the context of this mild-mannered picture, quite disturbing.

As time goes on, you will swear the damn dolls are moving.  But, truthfully, an old woman creeping along in a wheelchair in the darkness might be even more terrifying.  

The Psyhcopath begins with a throbbing doll’s head. For real. The damn thing, pasty white and sick looking, gets bigger and bigger as if it is being inflated with each passing beat from the score. And then we switch to severed doll parts while the title sequence soliders on. It’s like some demonic version of Operation, the board game, as we see hands and arms and legs, all mysterious ripped from their core.

"does everything it needs to do in order to be an unforgettable journey into dysfunction and psychosis."


Yes, this is the first wicked impression of Amicus’ The Psychopath, now on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber; throbbing doll heads and severed parts, this opening is a warning of the bizarreness yet to come as a stuffy group of chamber musicians (who happen to be former Nazi-hunters) get picked off by a crazed killer one by one.

Directed by Freddie Francis and written by Robert Block, the film wants to be a horror film but it’s mystery trappings keep it steadily in place. This dynamic might put a lot of people off. It’s very static as the pressure builds and it doesn’t really provide many shocks, unless you think its ending is enough. Yet, the film works on many levels.

Co-starring Frank Saville, Judy Huxtable, and Don Borisenko, this film keeps it cool when you really want it to go right off the rails and scare the hell right out of you.

Francis, who knows his way around a camera thanks to his fabulous work in cinematography with Hammer, this murder mystery is righteously executed. There’s not a flat note in this slightly smutty tale of revenge. While there is an unfortunate scratch that runs through the beginning of the film as the hunt for “a needle in a haystack” begins for Inspector Holloway (Patrick Wymark).

The first few minutes are edited in such a classic way as to provide a solid foundation of suspense as a car creeps up slowly stalking a man with a mysterious case in his hand. The shadows in these streets are tall and so, too, are the striking details in the rain-soaked streets. And then, when the car has him corned, it backs way, way, way up before running him over, repeatedly. It destroys the case and the man, leaving a doll that looks almost exactly like him in its wake.

Make no mistake, this creepy thriller from 1966 is yet another underappreciated gem from Amicus. Sure, it behaves a bit in the shadow of Psycho, since it deals with yet another freaky family, courtesy of Mrs. Von Sturm (Margaret Johnston) and her son Mark (John Standing), but this thriller is hardly a hit and run. It does everything it needs to do in order to be an unforgettable journey into dysfunction and psychosis. It’s a whodunit with a few shocks and a uneven attempt at a surprise.

And, yes, those damn dolls ARE moving.

Film Details

Psychopath - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime: 88 mins
Director: Freddie Francis
Writer: Robert Bloch
Cast: Patrick Wymark, Margaret Johnston, John Standing
Genre: Crime
Tagline: Don't cross the path of the psychopath, unless your tired of it all.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Take up plumbing."
Theatrical Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: May 10, 1966
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: April 10, 2018
Synopsis: With a serial killer on the loose, Police Inspector Halloway (Patrick Wymark, Where Eagles Dare, Repulsion) investigates a pattern of grisly murders whose perpetrator leaves a small doll by the body of each victim. The four victims are all brutally murdered in different grotesque ways… a knife, a blow-torch, a rope and a car. The case leads Halloway to disabled doll collector Mrs. Von Sturm (Margaret Johnston, Burn, Witch, Burn) who knows a set of dark secrets that may hold the key to the shocking truth.

Psychopath (1966) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray - April 10, 2018
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: Dolby Digital Audio English 2.0 track
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Presented with 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Kino Lorber’s 1080P MPEG-4 AVC encode is as good as it gets. The Psychopath is, in fact, better looking than I expected even if there is a scratch running through the first part of the film. Colors are strong and vibrant and saturated with strong hues of bursting lusciousness and an eye for details. The sets are also incredibly detailed. Black levels are solid and shadows, while not deep, are expressive enough. For a subgenre film from the middle of the 1960s, the image – and its 4K remastering from Kino – is a good experience as dirt and debris and random scratches are at a very low level. The sound, presented here in a good Dolby Digital Audio English 2.0 track, is adequate for the film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

The feature length commentary is provided by film historian Troy Howarth and is quite detailed concerning the making of the movie and its history.

Special Features:

Alas, outside of the commentary, there is but one special feature.

Original Theatrical Trailer

Psychopath - Blu-ray

 

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