Homicidal (1961)

Unrated  |   |  Horror, Mystery, Thriller  |  June 1961 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,862 users  
Reviews: 80 user | 43 critic

The brutal stabbing murder of a justice-of-the-peace sparks an investigation of dark family secrets in a sleepy small town in Southern California.



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Complete credited cast:
Karl Anderson
Patricia Breslin ...
Miriam Webster
Eugenie Leontovich ...
Helga Swenson
Alan Bunce ...
Doctor Jonas
Richard Rust ...
Jim Nesbitt
James Westerfield ...
Alfred S. Adrims
Gilbert Green ...
Lt. Miller
Joan Marshall ...
Emily (as Jean Arless)


The story centers around a murderous scheme to collect a rich inheritance. The object of murder is Miriam Webster, who is to share in the inheritance with her half brother Warren, who lives with his childhood guardian Helga in the mansion where Warren and Mariam grew up. Confined to a wheelchair after recently suffering a stroke, Helga is cared for by her nurse Emily, a strange young woman who has formed a close bond with Warren. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

June 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Den mystiske knivstikker  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the 1962 family comedy "Zotz!", also directed by William Castle, a boy and girl go to see Homicidal at a drive-in. A short clip is shown from the POV of the drive-in audience. The boy makes a wisecrack "What's she hanging' around there for? What a kook!" and is told to be quiet by his date. See more »


When the justice of the peace asks for the money for the marriage certificate, Emily hands it to him twice. See more »


Miriam Webster: I remember when we were kids, you took this doll away from me and I never saw it again.
Warren: You want it? Take it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

William Castle does needlepoint as he introduces the movie, then shows it as the movie's title, followed by the beginning credits which are also in needlepoint. See more »


Referenced in Divine Trash (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

PSYCHOtic fun from William Castle
2 April 2006 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

William Castle claims that he had the idea for this film while he was sleeping. If so, I can only assume that he was dreaming about Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, 'Psycho' because the blatant homage to the earlier film is difficult to ignore. Castle injects all the same themes and many of the ideas from Psycho into this film, but luckily; the master of entertainment has enough ideas of his own to ensure that Homicidal isn't merely a rip-off. Besides, Castle himself had a small hand in the events leading up to the release of Hitchcock's low-budget thriller...so I guess he earned the right to homage. The film starts off with one of Castle's campy intro features, and we also get a 'Fright Break' towards the end; but on the whole, this film is slightly more serious than earlier films such as The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill. The film opens properly with a sequence that sees a beautiful blonde woman pay a hired hand at a hotel to marry her. One thing leads to another, and she quite shockingly ends up sticking the knife into the Justice of the Peace...the plot thickens with the introduction of the elderly Helga and an inheritance of $10 million.

This film is never as good as Hitchcock's Psycho, but the master of entertainment always ensures that there's enough going on to ensure that it doesn't get boring. Much of the plot takes place in a dark, creepy house; which helps the director to implement a morbid and macabre atmosphere. One of the major faults with the film with regards to the scare factor comes from Castle's own showboating. The 'fright break' towards the end kills the shocking atmosphere that Castle has spent the rest of the film implementing, and as a result; the final macabre sequence is not nearly as effective as it could have been. The final twist is a clear derivative of Psycho, but it's actually quite well worked. The film introduced the talents of Joan Marshall (appearing here as Jean Arless) to the cinematic world, and her performance is what makes the film what it is. It's a shame that she never went on to make much of a splash after this film. I wouldn't hesitate to label Homicidal as one of William Castle's better efforts, as even though it's not quite what audiences have come to expect from the master of entertainment, and it's purely derivative; Homicidal is still a fine quality B-movie shocker.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
Jean Arless did her own voice for Warren!!! pearlbeach
Entertaining but improbable brand78
Way ahead of its time! pearlbeach
The 'Homicidal' ad campaign jeanarless
Jean Arless in *Shampoo* ?? moondog-8
Why is the DVD not widescreen Allardyce99
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