(director: Freddie Francis; screenwriter: Robert Bloch; cinematographer: John Wilcox; editor: Oswald Hafenrichter; music: Elisabeth Lutyens; cast: Patrick Wymark (Inspector Holloway), John Standing (Mark Von Sturm), Margaret Johnston (Ilse Von Sturm), Alexander Knox (Frank Saville), Judy Huxtable (Louise Saville), Don Borisenko (Donald Loftis), Thorley Walters (Martin Roth), Robert Crewdson (Victor Ledoux), John Harvey (Reinhardt Klermer), Colin Gordon (Dr. Glyn), Tim Barrett (Sgt. Morgan), Frank Forsyth (Tucker), Olive Gregg (Mary, housekeeper), Harold Lang (Briggs), Gina Gianelli (Gina), Peter Diamond (Junk Yard Man); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Max Rosenberg/Milton Subotsky; Paramount; 1966-UK)
“Creepy Brit horror mystery tale that involves a series of grisly murders in London.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Freddie Francis (“Nightmare”/”The Skull”/”The Ghoul”) directs this creepy Brit horror mystery tale that involves a series of grisly murders in London, where in each murder there’s a replica doll lying by the side of the victim’s body. The “giallo” like script is by Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho, and is only mildly interesting as a cheesy B film.
In London, lawyer Reinhardt Klermer (John Harvey) is brutally killed in an alleyway as he carries his violin to go to his regular weekly evening of chamber music with his three other German friends. A stolen car repeatedly runs him over. Inspector Holloway (Patrick Wymark), of Scotland Yard, investigates by interviewing the haughty wealthy retired businessman chamber music host Frank Saville (Alexander Knox), his toy store worker pretty daughter Louise (Judy Huxtable), her impoverished American medical student boyfriend of five weeks Donald Loftis (Don Borisenko), the two other chamber piece regulars: the hack sculptor/artist Victor Ledoux (Robert Crewdson), and the nervous diplomat Martin Roth (Thorley Walters).
Upon learning that Klermer was the lawyer for the embittered kooky wheel-chair bound widow Ilse Von Sturm (Margaret Johnston), who makes dolls and has a house full of them that she talks to as if they were her children. Ilse’s industrialist husband committed suicide in Germany twenty years ago when accused of war crimes by the chamber musicians who were all members of a war commission responsible for convicting her hubby of using slave labor during World War II and he was thereby forced to hand over his properties to the Allied court. This caused her move to England and the hiring of Klermer to get hubby’s conviction overturned and his property returned to her. Living with his batty mom is the strangely neurotic twentysomething Mark (John Standing), who works nights as a watchman in a boatyard.
When the the three other chamber music players are also brutally murdered and each with a replica doll by their corpse, the detective suspecting a revenge motive questions again the nutty Ilse and her son when alone on his job. But Mark reacts violently to being questioned and then vanishes. It ends, as if trying to copy Psycho in homicidal insanity, with a dead Mark made into a doll by his crazy mom and kept in her workroom.
The story gets unnecessarily complicated as it intensifies, and only delivers in the end stylized violence and some fair acting but without much character or plot development.
REVIEWED ON 1/12/2013 GRADE: B-