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Psychic Killer (1975)
A cast of B-vets vs. an astral projection-powered Jim Hutton!
"Psychic Killer" is fun 1970's horror at its best. Peppered with a cast of B-vets such as Paul Burke, Aldo Ray, Nehemiah Persoff, Julie Adams, and Whit Bissell, and starring Jim Hutton (in a nicely scary performance), the movie goes at a nice pace and features some tense moments. There are even bits of gore tossed in for good measure.
The film has Hutton as a man wrongly convicted in the death of his terminally ill mother's doctor. It seems the doctor refused to treat the lady once he found out she had no medical insurance. An argument between Hutton and the doc results in a brief scuffle where the doctor falls to his death. Hutton is arrested, found guilty, and sent to a mental institution. Once there, he encounters a fellow patient who has the power of astral projection with the aid of a medallion and several books. After this patient uses this power to kill one of his enemies, he dies and leaves the medallion and books to Hutton. Shortly after, Hutton is finally exonerated (the real killer confesses to the crime)and freed. He goes home and uses his newfound power of astral projection to begin a mission of revenge against the people who wronged him and his mom. Police Lieutenant Morgan (Burke) and his partner (Ray) are baffled at these seemingly unrelated "accidents". Hutton's psychiatrist (Adams)and a local expert on paranormal research (Persoff) try to help.
"Psychic Killer" benefits from tight direction by former actor-turned-director Ray Danton, good camera-work and location shooting to cover up a small budget, clever dialogue that mixes in bits of humor amongst the hokum, and solid turns by a top cast of veteran genre stars. Even Neville Brand and Rod Cameron show up in bit parts.
"Psychic Killer" is not the type of film that pretends to be anything other than what it is: sturdy, B-grade entertainment for genre fans.
The Double Man (1967)
Good, minimalist thriller (plot-holes not-withstanding)
"The Double Man" comes out of the rash of 60's cold war thrillers and James Bond wannabes, yet it is better than most of the period. Fine performances by Brynner, Clive Revill, Anton Diffring, and Lloyd Nolan, and some excellent cinematography involving the Austrian Alps by Denys Coop give the film a solid boost. Franklin Schaffner's direction gives the film a tight, efficient pace. The biggest positive here is that cast and director treat what could have been tongue-in-cheek material (in lesser hands) in a serious manner, lending weight and intelligence to the film. The only drawbacks are the occasional plot-hole and the non-acting of co-star Brit Ekland (here only for window dressing). Otherwise, "The Double Man" is good entertainment for spy movie fans everywhere!
The Ghoul (1975)
How slow can blood-letting be???
"The Ghoul" is a Hammer wannabe from producer Kevin Francis and Tyburn Films. Directed by Kevin's father, Oscar-winning cinematographer and veteran genre director Freddie Francis. The film benefits from nice sets and costumes, good performances by the leads Peter Cushing, John Hurt, and Veronica Carlson, and the sure hand of Freddie Francis at the helm. But the action is non-existent, even for a performance-driven film fan like myself. This thing doesn't even move! The cinema equivalent of rigor mortis. I literally had to pause and walk away from the film several times before finishing. Tyburn and Kevin Francis have done much better with films like "Persecution" (aka: "Terror of Sheba") and "Legend of the Werewolf" (also with Cushing). Not to mention the fine 1984 British TV-film "Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death" (again with Cushing as Holmes). For fans of Cushing, Hurt, and Carlson only.....