Thursday, June 17, 2010

Schizo (1976)

It's a pity, I think, that Pete Walker's Schizo has been hidden away in the shadows of his more famous movies. I can guess why: the slightly generic title, no Sheila Keith in the cast and a slow first part that has way to much exposition for it's own good. But what really works is the last hour, which mixes Walker's trademark, social realism, with a very violent and bloody murder mystery that echoes giallo a long way - complete with a killer with a big knife and black gloves, some trauma in the past, some touches of the supernatural and a lot more.

Lynne Frederick plays Samantha, and does it well by the way. She later married Peter Sellers, and some claimed she did it for the money. After he died she got a big fuckload of money, and obviously spent them on drugs and alcohole and died in 1994 because of her abuse. But I think it's fair to say she did a fine performance here, as the ice skating queen who's troubled past starts to chase her in the form of a William Haskin (the great Jack Watson). But of course, as this is a murder mystery, nothing is clear and it might be someone else than Haskin that follows her and finally starts killing off her friends and close ones.

This is a very well made movie, and thought it starts terrible slow - to slow - it finally starts up it's engine around the one hour mark with a couple of very brutal murders, some fine suspense scenes and a story that get's more twisted and filled with red herrings as it goes on. Pete Walker has, as usual, made a realistic British movie but still kept the fun stuff. So mixed with the blood, there's some fine performances, lovely working class characters and a lot of nice and moody locations. It's bleak and pale, like a lot of British movies of the seventies, but Walker never let the blood run dry and deliver a lot of high class terror.

My favorite scene, and I think all of you will love it, is the seance. What's really interesting with this one is that it's very similar to the first scene in Dario Argento's Deep Red, from the year before, but less over-the-top and with a more realistic approach. Walker's version also has a shocking little twist which actually makes me jump a little bit everytime I see it. It's just make-up, but god damn, it works so well! It's clearly one of the best scenes in any of Peter Walker's horror movies.

I wish I could go back in time, visit Pete in the editing room and tell him that he should cut a lot of the cat-and-mouse game in the beginning, edit out a few of the red herrings - we kinda get it quite fast that some one is after her, it could be Jack Watson, and that she's quite stressed about it. Twenty minutes out = twenty thousand new fans. I'm sure of it.

Anyway, if you've been skeptical, stop being so silly. Give Schizo a try and let me hear what you think about this underrated British thriller!

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

I've liked the other Pete Walker films I've seen. I hadn't heard of that one though. I'l be looking for a copy now.