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Kerwin Matthews, playing a dissolute drifter down on his luck, Jeff Farrell, is stranded in a cheap bar in France where he falls for Annette, the proprietor's pretty stepdaughter, played by Liliane Brousse. Annette's stepmother Eve, played by Nadia Gray, gradually shifts the young man's attentions to herself, rather than her stepdaughter, and together Eve and Jeff concoct a plot to help free Eve's estranged husband from the institution in which he's been confined as a homicidal maniac these past four years after committing the so-called "Acetylene Murder", when he killed with a blowtorch the man who raped Annette. The idea is that Georges, the husband, will leave the country, but, unknown to Jeff, it's not Georges who escapes but Henri, the guard who has become Eve's lover . . .Written by
Wheeler Winston Dixon
A Hammer production, filmed at M.G.M., and released through Columbia. Sound confusing? Well, so is the plot to this attempt at out-psycho-ing "Psycho".
Kerwin Matthews is actually pretty good, in this tale of an American artist visiting France, who gets mixed up with both a young woman, and the woman's stepmother (notice she's a "stepmother"; hint, hint, wink, wink). For some reason I had an easier time believing Matthew's interest in the young woman, but not so much in her stepmother (whose high painted eyebrows, and puffy bouffant hair reminded me of Divine). Along the way Matthews learns of the older woman's husband, and how he committed a crime trying to protect his daughter years before. They try to help the husband escape from an asylum (so they can be together), and then the confusion starts.
Though the location footage, and stark black and white photography help this film create a good atmosphere, the direction is somewhat muddled, as is the dialogue, which at times I found difficult to follow. The French accents, in addition to some questionable dubbing make it hard to understand what they are saying. When I could understand the dialogue, it seemed forced and elementary; characters having to explain things that just happened, to further the story (and make sure that we get it).
Overall a slow start and a bunch of interesting twists in the latter half, but only a couple mildly startling moments. I found myself rather unsatisfied at the end. Perhaps this would have benefited by being directed by Freddie Francis...his collaboration with Jimmy Sangster that same year, for "Paranoiac", produced a much better film then this is.
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