Sunday, 18 November 2018

Blu-ray Review: Psycho Biddy Double Feature

Mill Creek Entertainment * AMAZON
Just because Halloween is over doesn't mean you have to stop watching slasher flicks!

Does it?

Of course not!!! If you're like me, then you're probably watching horror movies all thru the year.

Last night, I watched a double feature of Strait-Jacket and Berserk!, both starring the late Joan Crawford (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?). The films were recently released on the Psycho Biddy Double Feature Blu-ray (NOT RATED; 189 minutes; $14.98) from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Directed by the legendary director William Castle and written for the screen by Robert Bloch (the author of Psycho), Strait-Jacket (1964; B&W; 93 minutes) tells the tale of Lucy Harbin (played by Crawford), a woman who has been locked up in a psychiatric hospital for the last twenty years for decapitating her husband and his mistress with an axe. After being released, her brother Bill and sister-in-law Emily (played by Leif Erickson and Rochelle Hudson) lets her live with them on the family farm.

Bill and Emily had adopted Lucy's young daughter Carol (played by Diane Baker) after she was institutionalized. Now an adult, Carol is an artist and sculptor. She's an engaged to Michael Fields (played by John Anthony Hayes). Her life is going great, until her mother is released back into her life. Despite their estrangement, Carol attempts to heal her relationship with her mother.

After a series of new axe-murder occurs in the area, everyone points their fingers at Lucy!

Directed by Jim O'Connolly, Berserk! centers around a traveling English circus owned by Monica Rivers (played by Joan Crawford) and her business partner Dorando (played by Michael Gough). At first glance, it seems like just another normal circus, well, until the tightrope walker Gaspar the Great dies during an act. No, it wasn't an accident. It seems someone had weakened the tightrope that lead to his death. Shortly after hiring a new tightrope artist, Frank Hawkins (played by Ty Hardin), Dorando is murdered.

Monica tries her best to calm the nervous of the other circus performers and protect her daughter, Angela (played by Judy Geeson), who just rejoined the circus after being expelled from school. Protecting your loved ones isn't an easy thing to do with a killer on the loose.

Final Thoughts

I have a deep appreciation for older horror films, especially those that fall into the slasher subgenre, so I guess you can say I was excited to watch the Psycho Biddy Double Feature, even though I'm not the biggest Joan Crawford fan. 

Out of the two movies on this release, Strait-Jacket is the better movie. Thanks to writer Robert Bloch, the film has many throwbacks to Psycho, including a twisting ending. It's a slow film, but worth watching. 

Berserk! has an interesting premise, but it has way too many boring scenes in it. The "horror" feel is toned down quite a bit. Joan Crawford tries her best to carry the film, but the underwhelming script ruins the film from being likeable. It does have a twisted ending, but it's way to similar to Strait-Jacket.

The film quality is average for both movies. There are several scenes in Strait-Jacket that are a bit too fuzzy. The color in Berserk! is a little off, making the circus scenes look odd. The sound quality for both movies were fine. There are no special features or extras.

If you're a Joan Crawford fan, then, you're probably going to like the Psycho Biddy Double Feature. If you're an old-school horror fan, you'll mostly likely enjoy watching Strait-Jacket, and you might even appreciate Berserk! for what it could have been.

*Note: I received a review copy from Mill Creek Entertainment.
All opinions are my own.

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