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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Strait Jacket (1964)

After being released from a mental asylum after 20 years for the ax murders of her husband (Lee Majors) and his girlfriend (Patricia Crest), a woman (Joan Crawford) goes to stay on her brother's (Leif Erickson) farm. It is there she is reunited with the daughter (Diane Baker) that witnessed the killings when she was a child. But there are signs that the mother may not be fully recovered as her strange behavior causes discomfort to those around her. Directed by schlockmeister extraordinaire William Castle from an original screenplay by Robert Bloch (PSYCHO), this is a fun movie in ways that weren't originally intended. Actually Crawford is very good in her first early scenes when she arrives from the asylum. But it isn't long before before she dons a wig and squeezes into a tight dress and the histrionics smash through her soft focus photography! That isn't a complaint, it's what makes the film so enjoyable as kitsch or "camp" if you prefer. Even the obviously fake decapitated heads add to the merriment. You got to hand to Crawford, love her or hate her, the woman was a Star, the quintessential Movie Star. As her daughter, Baker provides some levity to the overheated proceedings. With George Kennedy, Rochelle Hudson, Howard St. John, Edith Atwater and the bland John Anthony Hayes.

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