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Grip of the Strangler
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The Haunted Strangler (1958) More at IMDbPro »Grip of the Strangler (original title)

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The Haunted Strangler -- A writer investigating the execution of a serial killer known as "The Haymarket Strangler" 20 years previously begins to suspect that the wrong man might have been hanged...
The Haunted Strangler -- Nineteenth-century English author James Rankin (Boris Karloff) believes that the wrong man was hanged twenty years earlier for a series of murders, but his investigations lead him to a horrible and, for him, gruesomely inescapable secret.


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Their wild beauty marked them for death by . . . The Haunted Strangler See more »
A researcher investigating a notorious serial killer who was hanged 20 years earlier seemingly becomes possessed by the long dead strangler. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
THE HAUNTED STRANGLER (Robert Day, 1958) *** See more (26 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Boris Karloff ... James Rankin
Jean Kent ... Cora Seth
Elizabeth Allan ... Barbara Rankin

Anthony Dawson ... Supt. Burk
Vera Day ... Pearl
Tim Turner ... Dr. Kenneth McColl
Diane Aubrey ... Lily Rankin
Max Brimmell ... Newgate Prison Turnkey
Leslie Perrins ... Newgate Prison Governor
Jessica Cairns ... Asylum Maid
Dorothy Gordon ... Hannah
Desmond Roberts ... Dr. Johnson
Roy Russell ... Medical Superintendent
Derek Birch ... Guyse Hospital Superintendent
Peggy Ann Clifford ... Kate
John Fabian ... Young Blood
Joan Elvin ... Can-Can Girl
Audrey Sykes ... Laughing Lady at Hanging
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael Atkinson ... Edward Styles (uncredited)
Harry Brunning ... Prison Chaplain (uncredited)
Yvonne Buckingham ... Whore (uncredited)
Jimmy Charters ... Spectator at Hanging (uncredited)
Robert Day ... Asylum Van Driver (uncredited)
Marie Devereux ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Tex Fuller ... Guard with Whip (uncredited)
Arthur Hall ... Newgate Governor at Hanging (uncredited)
Victor Harrington ... Judas Hole Patron Constable (uncredited)
John G. Heller ... Asylum Attendant (uncredited)
George Hirste ... Lost Property Man (uncredited)
Anthony Lang ... Prison Guard (uncredited)
Arthur Mason ... Asylum Attendant (uncredited)
Arthur Mullard ... Asylum Attendant (uncredited)
Peter Perkins ... Asylum Attendant (uncredited)
Leonard Sharp ... George - Judas Hole Waiter (uncredited)
George Spence ... Hangman (uncredited)
Brian Sunners ... Paper Hawker (uncredited)
Jeremy Young ... Judas Hole Waiter (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Day 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
John Croydon  (as John C. Cooper)
Jan Read  screenplay
Jan Read  story "Stranglehold"

Produced by
John Croydon .... producer
Richard Gordon .... executive producer (uncredited)
Charles F. Vetter .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Buxton Orr 
Cinematography by
Lionel Banes (lighting cameraman)
Film Editing by
Peter Mayhew 
Makeup Department
Barbara Barnard .... hair stylist
Jim Hydes .... makeup artist
Production Management
Ronald Kinnoch .... production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Douglas Hickox .... assistant director
Art Department
John Elphick .... set designer
Sound Department
H.C. Pearson .... sound
Terry Poulton .... dubbing editor
Special Effects by
Les Bowie .... special effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Leo Rogers .... camera operator
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Anna Duse .... dress supervisor
Music Department
Frederick Lewis .... conductor (as Frederic Lewis)
Other crew
Hazel Swift .... continuity

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Grip of the Strangler" - UK (original title)
See more »
USA:78 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Australia:M | Finland:(Banned) (1958) | Iceland:12 | UK:12 | UK:X (original rating) | USA:Unrated

Did You Know?

John Croydon wrote this film and First Man Into Space (1959) back-to-back.See more »
Factual errors: One scene shows an evidence box from the Jack the Ripper case but the Haymarket Strangler that starts the movie took place in 1860 and the rest of the movie is 20 years later(1880). The Ripper killings were in 1888, 8 years after the movie takes place.See more »
James Rankin:You mean he killed while in some sort of trance?See more »
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
THE HAUNTED STRANGLER (Robert Day, 1958) ***, 20 March 2007
Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta

Having been - as was the case with THE TIN DRUM (1979) - the one to 'announce' several years ago the re-release on DVD of 4 Richard/Alex Gordon productions through Criterion on another online Forum (after writing to Image Entertainment to see if their bare-bones OOP editions were going to be re-issued), this set has been a long time coming indeed! As some of you may know, I'd never watched this one prior to purchasing the expensive "Monsters And Madmen" set - or, for that matter, its follow-up CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (1958); however, I knew enough of their reputation as two of Boris Karloff's best latter-day films to make me spring for them regardless.

To be honest, as I lay watching THE HAUNTED STRANGLER, I was somewhat let down by it and my heart actually sank when, in the Audio Commentary, both Richard Gordon and Tom Weaver opine that they prefer this one over CORRIDORS OF BLOOD! Still, going through the film twice in a matter of hours can sometimes work wonders: at first glance, it's a handsome-looking yet rather lurid film - reveling in the permissiveness of the time to include as many (often gratuitous) instances of sleaze and sadism as it possibly could; in that respect, it's similar to THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS (1959) - incidentally, another well-regarded title I had long wanted to watch and been underwhelmed by on a preliminary viewing.

The film actually precedes Hammer's DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971) in that it mingles the Stevenson perennial with the equally popular exploits of Jack The Ripper; to these it attaches a thriller angle by having Karloff act as a detective investigating an old series of murders, ostensibly to prove a miscarriage of justice, but whose repercussions are far worse - to say nothing of closer to home - than he could have imagined (itself an oft-used device as in, say, THE BIG CLOCK [1947])! While I knew of the twist from reading about the film beforehand (and which is actually revealed fairly early in the game), I feel that it doesn't quite work here because, for one thing, the star was simply too old for the role (though I'll readily admit that he entered with glee into its quite physical attributes, even coming up with the economical make-up design himself!) but also because the character's mental condition and its effect on his backstory is conveniently kept under wraps until the revelation (when it should, at least, bother him equally as much as wanting to prove the innocence of an anonymous and legally convicted serial-killer). Incidentally, though strangulation is involved in the crimes, the film's title is somewhat misleading because it's the scalpel which sets the 'monster' off and, for this reason, the U.S. moniker is rather more accurate!

Anyway, one of the film's major assets is surely Lionel Banes' black-and-white cinematography; the second half of the narrative, then, creates reasonable suspense and excitement with the scenes involving the rampaging 'monster' and his ultimate identity crisis. In the end, I wouldn't really classify THE HAUNTED STRANGLER as one of the star's very best vehicles - but it's undoubtedly among the more satisfying from his later work that I've watched (along with THE RAVEN [1963] and TARGETS [1968]).

The DVD supplements are very adequate: the Audio Commentary featuring genre authority Tom Weaver and the film's producer Richard Gordon (with interjections from his late brother/partner Alex) is especially interesting - apart from the privilege of having Weaver and the two Gordons name their 3 favorite Karloff pictures, amongst many other things I learned that Boris once almost worked with Edward D. Wood Jr. (and Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. to boot) on the project which eventually became BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955)!

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