A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
Dr. Cross, a psychiatrist, is treating a young woman, Janet Stewart, who is in a coma-state, brought on when she heard loud arguing, went to her window and saw a man strike his wife with a candlestick and kill her. As she comes out of her shock, she recognizes Dr. Cross as the killer. He takes her to his sanitarium and urged by his nurse/lover, Elaine Jordan, gives Janet an overdose of insulin. But he can't bring himself to murder her in cold blood and asks Elaine to get the medicine to save her. She refuses, they argue, and he strangles her. He saves Janet's life, but now faces two murder charges.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
While I'd have been interested in this film regardless, given its genre (Noir) and star (Vincent Price), I knew not to expect much from it in view of Leonard Maltin's dismissive *1/2 rating.
With this in mind, I was amazed to see this programmer restored and released as part of Fox's vaunted Noir series on DVD ahead of much more renowned titles but that may have had more to do with the fact that SHOCK has lingered in Public Domain hell for a long time, and the studio was eager to 'reclaim' its property by preparing an edition that was clearly superior to every other available version (with respect to print quality, transfer and supplements) and sell it at a very affordable price! That said, I've purchased all of Fox's Noir titles save 3 SHOCK itself, VICKI (1953) and NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947; though I do own this via the superior "Masters Of Cinema" R2 disc) but, ashamedly, I must admit that I've yet to check out any of them (and there are even 5 first-time viewings in there!)
Anyway, after this longish introduction, let's talk about the film proper: watchable (being a mere 70 minutes long helps), not uninteresting in itself (if decidedly unoriginal the doctor who's been commissioned to help restore a girl's sanity is actually the perpetrator of the murder which drove her into a catatonic state to begin with!) and quite atmospheric (a surreal dream sequence is nicely done and the film's highlight is the rather irrelevant sequence where a homicidal inmate attacks the head nurse in the heroine's room one stormy night) but it's also very formulaic, thus predictable every step of the way (who could Price be but the villain, albeit a fairly sympathetic one?) and, ultimately, too low-key for its own good (the leading lady is a non-entity which considerably dilutes the suspense the femme fatale bland and the abrupt wrap-up concludes the film on something of a whimper)!
I watched this via the Madacy "Vincent Price Collection" DVD which, ostensibly, also includes 3 other PD titles featuring the iconic star THE BAT (1959) and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964) are there, yes, but HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1958) is nowhere to be found, despite its name appearing on the "Main Menu" screen (admittedly, the disc I have is a DVD-R and the film may not have been replicated due to a technical glitch)
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