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Because his family has a history of mental illness, Elliot Freeman, a war hero turned portrait painter, is suspected of sadistically murdering two beautiful young women. Freeman knew both of the victims--Dolores Martello, an artist's model, and Alice St. Clair, a student at a nearby college--and he sets out to find the killer. At different times during his unofficial investigation, Freeman comes to suspect four men: Professor Melbourne, a peeping tom; Charles Perone, a motorcycle hoodlum; Adrian Benedict, a sophisticated lawyer; and a deaf-mute chauffeur. Freeman finally learns that his own sister, Lynn, jealous of the attentions that he paid to other women, committed the murders. Written by
Psychomania is a neat little slasher flick that has been unfairly maligned by its relationship to the creators of the genuinely dreadful (though entertaining) Horror of Party Beach. The film is shot in stark black and white, with a look that sometimes anticipates Night of the Living Dead and a trench-coated, gloved killer that pre-dates the giallo genre (Bava's Blood and Black Lace was a year away). The cast is also fun to watch, with James Farentino, Dick Van Patten, and Sylvia Miles soldiering away in the early years of their careers. Director Hilliard tries to include as many Psycho style camera shots as possible with quick edits and brief glimpses of blood, and there's even a Hitchcockian scream segueing into train noise! Tenney went on to produce another underappreciated film, Curse of the Living Corpse, the following year.
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