A search for a winning lottery ticket in his dead father's grave causes Sardonicus' face to freeze in a horrible grimace, until he forces a doctor to treat his affliction--with even more ... See full summary »
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
William Castle: [gimmick] In the final reel, when Miriam is about to go into the house for the big climax, there was a one-minute "Fright Break" in which producer/director William Castle advised the audience that anyone too scared to see the climax could go into the lobby and get their money back. For this gimmick, Columbia shipped a cardboard "Coward's Corner" to theaters playing the film. Supposedly, audience members too frightened to see the climax could go to the "Coward's Corner" and wait there until the film ended and the rest of the audience filed past. Apparently no one took the offer. See more »
When the justice of the peace asks for the money for the marriage certificate, Emily hands it to him twice. See more »
Is there any way to tell?
[Distracted after a long pause]
Hah? Tell what, Karl?
Well. If a person's homicidal?
[giving him a prescription]
There you are. No... That's what makes them so dangerous. They can change from being your friend into your murderer in a second's time!
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At the end of the film Joan Marshall's characters Emily/Warren come out to face the audience, via split screen, and take a bow! See more »
William Castle's little fright flick was obviously rushed into production to cash in on the Psycho craze. However, it is surprising how well it stands on it's own. Indeed there are elements and moods that seem directly lifted from Hitchcock's masterpiece....hotel scenes, driving scenes and the full explenation of the story at the jail house. And while the film does not come close to the sheer artistry of Psycho it manages some good things all on its own. First and foremost, the structure of the script is very good keeping you out of the loop and in a state of confusion and always trying to guess what is going on. It's a nifty little storyline. Secondly, the performance by Jean Arliss is very good! Yes, her take on the Warren character is believable (though the actor dubbing the lines could have been better)but her performance as Emily is what really drives the piece. Her discomfort is very believable and she puts just enough glee in her evil side to give the film it's campy charm. An attractive, strong actress who should have had a more succesful career. The rest of the cast serves it's purpose in more generic roles. I did enjoy the character of Helga....a woman who happens to know more about what's going on right in front of her face but just can't tell anyone because of her inability to speak. Taken in the right vein, this film is very enjoyable. This is a good companion piece to the Roger Corman produced Dementia 13 (directed by Francis Coppola and also made to cash in on the success of Psycho)as low buget gems of that time.
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