An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that his grandfather was not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body.
Dr. Richard Thorndyke arrives as new administrator of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous to discover some suspicious goings-on. When he's framed for murder, Dr. Thorndyke must confront his own psychiatric condition, "high anxiety," in order to clear his name. An homage to the films of Alfred Hitchcock; contains many parodies of famous Hitchcock scenes from THE BIRDS, PSYCHO, and VERTIGO.Written by
Scott Renshaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Co-screenwriter and future director Barry Levinson plays the bellboy who "stabs" Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) with a rolled up newspaper, as a spoof of the shower scene in Psycho (1960). Perhaps a newspaper was used because the black ink flows down the drain at the end of the sequence, resembling the "blood" -- actually chocolate syrup -- in Psycho. People who saw Psycho remember Marion Crane's (Janet Leigh) blood as being red, despite its being a black and white movie. This was a subconscious reaction, because newsreels were in black and white, and often showed bloody scenes. See trivia for Psycho. See more »
When Dr. Wentworth is trying to get out of his car he first breaks off the window handle and drops it on the passenger side. Next, he breaks off the door handle, but somehow the window handle is back in place. See more »
Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) shows up at a psychiatric hospital where he soon begins to realize that things aren't quite what they seem.
HIGH ANXIETY, I think, is the first Brooks film that really wasn't a success. He had a string of successful pictures but I think that luck ran out here. This film is basically a spoof of various Alfred Hitchcock movies like THE BIRDS, PSYCHO, VERTIGO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST but the problem with the film is the fact that Brooks just spoofs scenes instead of making a film of his own. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN paid homage to earlier films while being its own thing. HIGH ANXIETY can't really say that.
I think the biggest problem with this film is that there aren't enough laughs to carry the movie. Some of the jokes work but to me the majority of them doesn't and that includes the gag with THE BIRDS where Brooks is running away while getting pooped on. The VERTIGO stuff is a spoof but it isn't funny. The same is true for the PSYCHO shower scene. In fact, I guess you could argue that all of the Hitchcock jokes simply don't work because they're just not that creative or funny.
To me the scenes that work the best are the ones that have Brooks doing something that isn't a homage. To me the funniest moment in the movie is when Brooks is questioning a character who is scared of werewolves and Harvey Korman tries to show that the man is crazy. The way this sequence plays out is downright hilarious and not only is it the best scene in the film but it's also one of the best from the director's career.
Brooks is fine in the lead role and Korman offers fine support but the screenplay just isn't there. Cloris Leachman and Madeline Kahn are basically re-playing previous roles so the script does them no favors either. With all of that said, HIGH ANXIETY has enough funny moments to make it worth sitting through but it's certainly not the director's high point.
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