Candyman (1992), Farewell to the Flesh, Day of the Dead, Candyman (2021), The Psychopath, and Murder to the Tune of Seven Notes
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 223
We’ve got our usual lineup of four movies and a short film this week— This time, it’s a wild assortment of weirdness!
This week, we’ll cover all of the “Candyman” films: the original from 1992 and the reboot from 2021 as well as the two sequels to the original, “Farewell to the Flesh” and “Day of the Dead.”
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For our bonus reviews over at horrorbulletin.com, we have:
* “Murder to the Tune of Seven Black Notes” (1977) another Lucio Fulci film about premonitions and murder
* And “The Psychopath” (1966) a very weird British “whodunit” about a mental case.
We’ve got two announcements this week pertaining to our books:
1. NEW! “The Horror Guys Guide to the Films of Peter Cushing” is available now at all the usual places, including our web store: https://brianschell.com/b/cushing. This is one of our biggest books yet, looking at all fifty of Cushing’s horror films and eight of his other influential movies.
2. FREE! ”The Horror Guys Guide To The Halloween Films” is available now, exclusively at our web store, https://brianschell.com/b/halloween. The eBook version is completely free. Enjoy! Note that it’s also available as a paperback, but that one’s obviously not free. Also note, that there are a couple of other free books on the site as well!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
* The Horror Films of Peter Cushing New!
* The Horror Guys Guide To The Halloween Films (Free!)
* The Horror Films of Vincent Price
* Universal Studios' Shock! Theater
* Universal Studios' Son of Shock!
* A Sextet of Strange Stagings: Six Surprising Scripts
Here. We. Go!
* Directed by Bernard Rose
* Written by Clive Barker, Bernard Rose
* Stars Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Tony Todd
* Run Time: 1 Hour, 39 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There’s a lot packed into this, and it’s held up well. The practical effects, gore, and insects are impressive. The music is great. The casting is perfect. We both liked it even better this time around than seeing it when it came out.
Gothic organ music plays as we fly over the city streets as the credits roll. We hear the Candyman’s voiceover as we see bees swarming the Chicago tower.
We cut to Helen Lyle, who listens to a story about two teenagers that talk about the legend of Candyman. He has a hook instead of a hand, and he appears if you say his name five times in front of a mirror. Naturally, the teens try it. That goes badly.
Helen is at the University of Illinois, and she’s watching a course on urban legends. Trevor Lyle, her husband, is giving the seminar. Helen and Bernadette are working on their theses on that exact topic, and she’s annoyed that Lyle didn’t wait to use her research for the course.
Helen talks to two of the school’s cleaning ladies, Kitty and Henrietta, who know all about the Candyman. They tell a story about a woman who was disemboweled by a hook. She does more research and figures out that her building was built over the site of some of the legendary Candyman killings. She shows Bernadette that there’s even a “secret passageway” into the next apartment. This leads to the two of them saying the word five times in front of the mirror.
Helen and Bernadette want to go to the projects, but Bernadette is afraid of the ghetto. It’s not a safe-looking place, but they finally get to the room where the woman Kitty and Henrietta told them about died. She finds the same secret passage in this building as was in hers. She finds a room with a creepy mural on the wall.
They meet Anne-Marie, who agrees to talk to them. She knows all about Ruthie-Jean, who died in the apartment next door. She tells them, “He can come right through these walls, ya know?” She knows it was the Candyman.
All the academics have dinner, and Purcell, an older professor, says he wrote a paper on Candyman ten years ago. He says the legend first appears in 1890, and he was the son of a slave. He’d been sent to the best schools and was a talented portrait artist. A wealthy landowner hired him to paint his daughter, who soon became pregnant. The father paid hooligans to chase Candyman and saw his hand off. Then they smeared honey all over him until the bees stung him to death. They burned him up in a fire and scattered his ashes where that tenement stands today.
Helen goes back to the ghetto and talks to a little boy, Jake, who shows her a restroom where Candyman is said to have killed a young boy. Inside, she finds a toilet full of bees. Four hoods come in and knock her out; one of them identifies himself as the Candyman.
There’s a police lineup, and Helen identifies the man who hit her. Detective Valento says she’s lucky to be alive, and he believes this man is the one who killed Ruthie-Jean and the little boy in the restroom.
In the parking garage, Helen sees the real Candyman, and she has flashbacks to the scary mural. “You were not content with the stories, so I was obliged to come. Be my victim.”
Helen wakes up in Anne-Marie’s bathroom, whose dog has been brutally murdered and Baby Anthony is missing. The two fight and the police break in and arrest her. They give her a strip search. She’s covered in blood and looks really guilty. It’s all over the news.
Helen goes home to recover, and Candyman comes for her. “Do you believe in me? I have the child. Allow me to take you or he’ll die in your place.” Bernadette comes in, and Candyman kills her. Trevor comes home later and finds Helen with a knife in her hand. She’s arrested again. We see that Candyman has the baby in the room with the mural.
In the morning, Helen is taken to Dr. Burke, a psychiatrist. He says that she’s been on Thorazine for the past month while she awaits trial for first-degree murder. He shows her video footage of one of her encounters with Candyman, and she’s the only one who appears. She says she can prove her side of the story, all she has to do is call him, which she soon does. Dr. Burke is immediately killed from behind as the Candyman slices him open. She climbs out the window and escapes.
Helen rushes home to her apartment to find everything covered in plastic with the walls being painted by Trevor and his new girlfriend. They immediately think she’s crazy and dangerous.
She leaves and heads back to Candyman’s shrine, where she finds other paintings of the dead artist. She finds the Candyman asleep and stabs him, but that doesn’t hurt him at all. She offers herself to save Baby Anthony. “Come with me and be immortal.” He opens his coat and bees swarm out.
She wakes up. “It was always you, Helen” is written on the wall. She goes outside and hears the baby crying in the middle of the big stack of wood in the courtyard. Jake and others come outside and pour gas on the pile of wood. They set the pile ablaze, thinking Candyman is inside.
Candyman burns. Helen burns. Still, Helen crawls out far enough to save the baby, who is fine. Flaming bees erupt from the bonfire as Helen dies.
At her funeral, Trevor is surprised when a whole parade of black people comes to pay their respects. They throw Candyman’s hook into the grave with her coffin.
Grieving Trevor says Helen’s name five times in front of the bathroom mirror. Bad move! We cut back to Candyman’s lair, and there’s a new mural there now, this time of Helen.
The organ music, by Philip Glass, went far beyond most horror films, and it elevates this one quite a bit all on its own.
Tony Todd said he was stung by bees 26 times during the space of the Candyman trilogy. It’s said that in his contract, he got an extra thousand dollars for each sting. This is also Tony Todd’s favorite role.
I’ve seen theories on this that say that after Helen got hit in the head in the restroom she imagined all the Candyman sightings; she’s just crazy. Between that possibility and the idea that he’s just a myth, rumor, or legend, make him a little hard to argue. Or he’s a real ghost. You get to decide.
I saw this originally when it first came out and not since. This was a lot better than I remembered this time around. The music is especially memorable.
Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)
* Directed by Bill Condon
* Written by Rand Ravich, Mark Kruger, Clive Barker
* Stars Tony Todd, Kelly Rowan, Caroline Barclay
* Run Time: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
* Trailer: *
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was a decent sequel. We get more Candyman time, and there’s more about his back story. The excellent music is still there, and the new cast with Tony Todd is good. And the New Orleans setting provides great atmosphere.
Dr. Purcell, from the first film, lectures about the story of Daniel Robitaille, an artist who was brutally murdered. Even here in New Orleans, murders have been committed in his name—he tells the story of Helen. When asked if he believes the legend, someone in the audience asks him to prove it, and he says it five times in the mirror. He then gives us a fake-out jump-scare.
After the lecture, he runs into Ethan Tarrant. Ethan’s the son of someone who believed Purcell and said the name. His father died. “You’re next, Purcell!” Ethan then attacks the professor in a bar. Purcell goes into the restroom to wipe the blood off and learns that Ethan was right. Credits roll.
We hear that it’s three days before Lent in New Orleans, and Mardi Gras is in full swing, “Carnival: Farewell to the Flesh,” says the radio DJ. Annie drives to school, and we see “No Hook-Hand” posters on the walls. The principal says there’s some trouble with her brother, so she takes off.
Annie goes to her mother, who’s dying of cancer. The two of them meet up with Paul at the police station to see Ethan, who was arrested as a suspect in Purcell’s death. The cops talk to each other; there have been four identical murders, starting with Ethan and Annie’s father, Coleman. Ethan confessed to it. Annie says she’s going to find out what happened, and Ethan freaks out.
Annie talks later to her husband Paul, who runs a restaurant. She looks at old family photos. Her father was obsessed with a certain old house, the one where he died, so the pair go for a visit. She says she hasn’t lived there in 13 years, but it looks like it’s been abandoned for fifty. There’s a group of homeless living there now. They look out the window toward the old slave quarters, where she was never allowed to play. One room has some very familiar-looking graffiti on the wall along with what’s obviously a shrine to Candyman.
Back at school, two students are fighting over a drawing of Candyman. She says the Candyman isn’t real, but they all believe it. Annie stands in front of the mirror and proves it by saying the name five times. One student notices a bee on the window. “There are no monsters,” she says to herself.
When she gets home, she sees him. “I am the writing on the wall; the whisper in the classroom.” He then kills Paul, who’s done absolutely nothing wrong. Annie scratches Candyman’s face, and a bunch of bees pours out.
Candyman vanishes, and Annie goes to the police. She insists that Candyman is real. She talks to her mother, Octavia, about Candyman. We see that her mother may know more than she’s letting on. Annie has nightmares.
A couple of her students come over and say that Matthew has disappeared. She goes to see Matthew’s father, a priest. He says that Matthew stayed up all night painting most nights and stopped sleeping. His “studio” is all Candyman art.
Annie finally goes to see Ethan, who says he and his father were trying to protect her. “All Dad ever talked about was calling it.” We get a flashback to what happened with their father; he died right in front of the Candyman shrine. Their father said he had found a way to destroy Candyman but wouldn’t tell Ethan. He says a man named Thibideaux may know the truth.
Annie goes to find Thibideaux, but the police detectives are following her. He’s got a whole room full of weird antiques. Her father figured out that Daniel Robitaille was born in New Orleans and fell in love with Caroline Sullivan. She had a mirror, and it’s believed that his soul became trapped in her mirror. Her father thought that if he broke that mirror, it would kill the Candyman.
Candyman appears, and his bees kill Thibideaux. He says Annie has a daughter growing inside her. He starts chasing Annie through town. Annie goes to Reverend Ellis and they talk about Daniel Robitaille being born here. He was born in their house. He takes her to a cemetery, and she finds Daniel and Caroline’s tombs; they had a daughter, Isobel!
The detective roughs up Ethan in the interrogation room. The cop teases him by saying you-know-what in the mirror and then dies in seconds. Ethan makes a run for it, but the cops shoot him. The good cop watches security footage showing someone invisible killing the cop.
Annie goes back to her mother’s place and finds an old photo of Isobel. She confronts Octavia about the story. She screams, “We’re his family!” Octavia screams back that he’s not real, which he quickly disproves.
Annie runs out of the building and runs right into the good cop, who tells her what happened to Ethan. Annie runs back to the old house and starts smashing all the mirrors.
She runs out to the slave quarters and finds Matthew. The place is literally crumbling and falling down, so Annie sends Matthew for help. She finds the magic mirror among several skeletons. “The mirror is the secret of my strength, the keeper of my soul.”
We get a flashback to Daniel’s final moments. The white men chased him down, sawed off his hand, and stuck a hook in. Then they smeared him with honey and mocked him calling him “Candyman”. A huge swarm of bees appeared and covered Daniel. Caroline ran up to help him, but the others stopped her. Caroline’s father shows Daniel his face in a mirror. Then Daniel died, and Caroline kept the mirror.
Back in the present, Candyman begs, “Join me, Annie. We will go together to a world without pain.” Annie grabs the mirror and—Suddenly, water rushes in, flooding the whole place. Annie’s students arrive to pull her out. Candyman comes back, so she smashes the mirror. Candyman turns to glass and shatters into the flood waters. The whole building floats away just as they all get out.
Matthew goes home to his father, as does Annie. Later, in New York City, Annie raises her daughter, whose name is… Caroline.
The location of this one, New Orleans, couldn’t be creepier if it tried, and it all looked very real. While the DJ would be annoying in anything else, he’s really appropriate here. And, of course, the music from the first film carries over to this.
Candyman is much more of an actual character here, and he gets a lot more screen time than in the previous film, where it was debatable whether he was even real or just a legend. We get to see his whole backstory this time.
This was very good, and in some ways, better than the original.
Short Film: Goodnight Gracie (2023)
* Directed by Stellan Kendrick
* Written by Stellan Kendrick
* Stars Courtney Gains, Caige Coulter
* Run Time: 3:32
Little Gracie tries to sleep, but there’s lots of noise outside her room. Then there are screams and crashes downstairs. She gets up, grabs her flashlight, and finds a madman cutting her mother into little pieces.
For such a short film, it’s got a good story, good acting, and you always know exactly what’s going on. It also has the most realistic Exorcism scene ever— that’s exactly how that would go.
Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999)
* Directed by Turi Meyer
* Written by Clive Barker, Alfredo Septien, Turi Meyer
* Stars Donna D’Errico, Tony Todd, Alexia Robinson
* Run Time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
* Trailer: *
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This one was a step down from the previous two. It had a lower budget and was straight to DVD. There are some interesting things with the new setting and theme and more with Candyman’s paintings. But it seemed long. And we missed the music.
Adult Caroline wakes up and finds “Sweets to the Sweet” written in blood on her bathroom wall. She spots Candyman, who slashes her. Credits roll.
Caroline wakes up, obviously not dead, and looks at her drawings of Daniel Robitaille. She summarizes what we saw in the previous film for her friend Tamara. Tamara takes her over to the mirror and proves that the story isn’t true, but Caroline agrees that he isn’t real before Tamara can finish the ritual.
We cut to scenes of Los Angeles. Caroline buys some candy for the Day of the Dead, which is coming soon. She goes to an art gallery showing the complete works of Daniel Robitaille. Miguel AKA Mickey is doing a show highlighting him as a monster, but Caroline doesn’t approve. They are her property, after all. She gives in and lets him proceed. A couple of racist cops come in and harass Mickey.
Mickey tells the story to the assembled crowd, and we get another flashback of Candyman’s origin, but this time with more nudity. He introduces Caroline as Daniel’s great-great-granddaughter. He challenges her to say his name five times in front of a mirror. Sigh. She does it, and a crazy man gives us a jump scare.
David comes in later - he was an actor who played crazy earlier at Mickey’s prompting. Caroline is not amused. She goes home through the skankiest subway station ever and hears the Candyman’s voice. Then the bees come, and she sees him. “You doubted me, and yet you called my name. I came for you. Believe in me.”
She wakes up outside on a park bench outside Mickey’s house. We get another flashback where we see what happened to Mickey and his date – it wasn’t a good time. Caroline finds the bodies, and “Believe” is painted on the wall.
The racist cops return to question Caroline about the deaths. It’s clear that they want to go after David, but she explains that his crazy was just an act. He tells her that the gallery has been broken into and all the paintings are gone.
She goes home and flips out; we get another flashback, this time of her mother’s suicide. She tells Tamara that Candyman killed Miguel and the others.
David complains that the cops are after him for murder, and Detective Kraft is out to get him. He says word on the street is that a gang broke in and stole the paintings; they may be the ones that killed Mickey. She says if they find the gang, that may clear David of the accusation.
The pair goes to see Tino, the guy who runs all the gangs, and she encounters Candyman in the restroom. They next go to see David’s daughter and grandmother, a spiritual healer. The old lady has Caroline say “Candyman” into an egg and then breaks the egg. She watches as the egg bleeds and a bee climbs out.
Caroline and David go home, and he tells them all about the Day of the Dead. She says that she’s the last of her family; “I’m all alone,” to which he replies, “No, you’re not.” Cue the Latin lover music… Until Candyman takes his place. “Accept your destiny. Be my victim!”
Caroline wakes up and tells Tamara everything, but Candyman makes short work of her. Detective Kraft eventually shows up and arrests Caroline for Tamara’s murder. Kraft’s partner laughs about the Candyman in the squad car, but he doesn’t laugh long, because you-know-who shows up.
Caroline runs back to David’s abuela’s place to wash the cop’s blood off. “Evil cannot exist without good. You must destroy the good, and evil will die. You must find the good. What is his good?” Caroline remembers the missing paintings. Tino calls her there about the missing paintings, so she goes right over there.
The guy who stole the paintings is terrified and eager to return them to her. He drops her off at another abandoned building, and she finds the paintings inside. It turns out there’s some kind of goth cult there who capture and tie her up. They call for the Candyman, and the bees show up, followed by him. The cultists are all soon dead, but he also takes the paintings away with him.
Meanwhile, Detective Kraft is suspended and throws a temper tantrum. Caroline goes to a place she knows where Candyman is said to have once killed someone, and the paintings are there. She also finds David hanging from a chain. “Your life for his,” offers the Candyman.
Caroline gives in and goes over to him. He kisses her, and the bees come out. She runs up the hill of skulls and, covered in bees, slashes his paintings. He screams and burns.
Caroline goes to David, who is going to be OK. Then Detective Kraft drunkenly staggers in. He threatens her, but the good cop shoots him in the back. She says that Kraft was the Candyman. They pin all the murders on him, destroying the myth.
So apparently, Candyman was painting “Believe” on walls twenty years before Ted Lasso was even a thing.
Candyman is haunting Caroline. Other than that, there’s just no real story here, nothing that we haven’t already seen before.
Tony Todd has admitted he wasn’t pleased with the film. This straight-to-DVD movie was low-budget, rushed, and doesn’t even have the music that helped so much with the first two films.
It’s long and feels like a very wasted opportunity.
* Directed by Nia DaCosta
* Written by Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, Nia DaCosta
* Stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
* Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
* Trailer: *
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This lacks Tony Todd being prominent as Candyman, but they still make it work. It’s sort of a reboot and sort of a sequel. The script is pretty good with a good cast and interesting direction. Cool puppetry and good music too.
We open on Cabrini-Greens in 1977. Little Billy carries his laundry to the laundry room. There’s a big paint spot on the wall that he thinks is creepy. He sees someone walk through the paint spot/hole in the wall. The man’s shadow has a hook for a hand. Credits roll.
Anthony is an artist, and his girlfriend is Brianna. Her brother Troy is there with his boyfriend Grady. Troy asks if they all want to hear a scary story. He tells the story of a white grad student named Helen who was doing research on Cabrini-Green. Then one day she just snapped and beheaded a Rottweiler. She left a trail of bodies behind her. Helen is said to have run into the big bonfire with a kidnapped baby, but the crowd rushed her and saved the child. Helen walked into the fire and burned to death. It’s an altered summary of the original film.
Anthony promises his manager Clive that he’s doing some art based on “The Projects” about racism. He goes there and takes a photo of an old church but notices a swarm of bees on the ground. He climbs a fence and goes into some deserted houses. He spots weird graffiti on the walls.
He meets William Burke, a man who still lives there. He says Helen was here looking for Candyman, and he thinks she found him. He was little Billy from the opening scene. There was a man named Sherman living in the projects who had a hook for a hand and always gave out candy to the kids. About a hundred cops killed the man on the spot; he was accused of putting razor blades in the candy. A few weeks after his death, he was proven innocent.
Anthony goes home and starts painting. He paints the murder of Sherman, which led to the legend of Candyman. The art show opens, and Anthony has some of his works located in a room behind a mirror, a homage to the original movie. The critic says it’s uninspired and he needs a day job. Anthony tells off Clive in front of the whole show, and Clive responds by saying that Anthony was only invited because Brianna begged him.
Clive and his girlfriend talk about Anthony later, and she talks about summoning the Candyman. She does, and she dies. Clive tries to run away, but something invisible to us kills him right there in the studio. Meanwhile, Anthony’s at home painting in a trance, but his hands are all bloody and burnt-looking.
Brianna dreams of her father, who jumped out of a window when she was little. Anthony goes to the university and asks about Helen’s work, and they give him a folder and a tape machine, where Helen explains her psychological theories. The mirrored elevator stops, and Anthony finds a piece of candy before spotting Candyman on the ceiling. Nothing’s really there.
The reviewer from the exhibition interviews Anthony. She’s much more interested in his work now. He says she’ll never understand his art unless she does the ritual in front of a mirror. Anthony starts picking at his scabbed-up hand and sees himself in the mirror as the Candyman, hook, bees, and all. When Anthony leaves, we see someone invisible kill the reviewer.
Brianna has a power dinner with several important art-world people when the news of the critic’s death comes in on their phones. Anthony runs to talk to William again, who says the Candyman story goes back to the 1890s and Daniel Robitaille, who was commissioned to paint a rich white man’s daughter. Things went south from there with the same origin story we heard in the 1992 film. “A story like that, pain like that—it lasts forever. That’s Candyman!”
Anthony tells Brianna that he thinks he brought back Candyman. She goes over to the mirror and starts saying it—until Anthony smashes all the mirrors to stop her. She goes to stay with her brother Troy.
Meanwhile, at high school, a girl who was at the exhibition dares a bunch of girls in the restroom to summon him as a group. Four girls all say the name five times. This goes about how you’d expect.
Anthony’s whole arm and part of his face now look burnt and rotten. He goes home to talk to his mother about where he was born; she knows about Candyman. She admits that he was the baby kidnapped by Helen in the 1992 film. Everyone blamed Helen, but she knew who really did it. “He chose you to be one of his victims. He wanted you to burn in that fire.”
Brianna goes looking for Anthony and ends up at the laundromat where William works. She gets locked in the back room, and someone grabs her from behind. Yes, it’s William, and he takes her to a creepy church with some strange artwork on the wall. Anthony is there, and he’s changing. William saws off Anthony’s hand and puts a hook instead; Anthony just sits there and tolerates it. William is obviously insane, but the jury’s still out on Anthony.
Brianna stabs William to death with a pen, and then Anthony comes in and passes out. The police arrive, and they shoot… Anthony. The cop comes out to talk to Brianna in the police car and gives her a choice: back up the cop’s story or tell what really happened. She asks to see herself in the mirror. The cop moves the car mirror, and she says the name five times, summoning the monster.
Suddenly, a bloody cop comes out of the building, and the others start shooting as Candyman kills all of them in the bloodiest way possible. As the bees disperse, we see that he’s got his old face back again. Candyman is reborn!
The Cabrini-Green towers, where the original film was set, had been demolished, and replaced with high-rises since the first film was shot there. This story was switched to take place in the row houses, which were still standing. It’s sort of a reboot and it’s sort of a sequel (yes, it’s a “requel”). The events of the first film are told as a sort of urban legend, but we see newspaper clippings that support it.
The shots of the city are cool, and the soundtrack is quite good as well. The many uses of silhouette puppets are interesting (Be sure to watch the end credit sequence). There’s a social message here about cops being anti-black, and although it’s a little heavy-handed, it’s not necessarily unjustified.
Although it’s the shortest of the Candyman films, it felt a little stretch-out in place, but overall, it’s pretty good.
Murder to the Tune of Seven Black Notes (1977)
* Aka “The Psychic” or “Seven Black Notes”
* Directed by Lucio Fulci
* Written by Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, Dardano Sacchetti
* Stars Jennifer O’Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel
* Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s very much a mystery trying to put the clues together to solve a murder and prevent more. And there are plenty of horror elements too. It’s well done and entertaining.
A woman drives in 1959 Florence, Italy. She parks the car and walks to the cliff’s edge. A little girl far away says “Mommy” before the woman jumps to her splattery death. The little girl’s name is Virginia.
Credits roll as we watch rich people getting into their Rolls Royce and driving to their private plane. Now-adult Virginia kisses Francesco goodbye as he boards the plane and takes off, leaving her behind. She drives herself home, but it’s clear she doesn’t like driving through the dark tunnels. She has a premonition of a bloody murder.
She wakes up on the side of the road with a policeman helping her. She pulled over, so it wasn’t a crash, but she clearly passed out during whatever it was that she saw. She goes to her therapist, Luca, and talks about seeing her mother’s suicide in a vision- the doctor is also a parapsychologist. He says lots of people have premonitions, it’s nothing to be concerned about. She says her husband doesn’t believe in premonitions. He records her as she repeats what she saw about a woman being buried alive behind a wall by a man with a limp.
An old caretaker leads Virginia through a nice but abandoned palazzo. He knows Francesco very well, and he says the place needs a lot of work. He says Francesco has had a lot of women there in the past, hopefully, this new bride will get him to settle down. She finds a mirror that she saw broken in her premonition. Actually, there are several things in this bedroom from her vision– that can’t be good. There’s a crack in the paint on the wall where she “saw” the woman being buried alive.
In the basement, she finds bricks, mortar, and paint. She goes back to the room and breaks through the wall in that spot. The bricks are too thick, so she stops after a while, unable to get through. Then she spots the fingers…
The police are there now, they have unearthed the skeleton. The caretaker says he knew about the ghosts. The police want to know why Virginia decided to come here today. He thinks it’s strange that on her very first trip to the house, she decided to break down in that one particular spot. It does look suspicious. The inspector talks to Francesco, and he says the woman died about five years ago. Francesco has an alibi, but not a very good one. Just being the owner of the house is enough to make him look guilty.
The problem is that Virginia saw an older woman being buried, but this woman was in her twenties. She then sees the older woman out in her garden, but she knows she’s dead. The police figure out who the dead woman was and give Virginia a photo; Francesco admits to Commissioner D’Elia that he had an affair with her long ago.
Francesco tells Virginia to ask his sister Gloria if she knows anything before he’s arrested. The inspector makes a lot of sense, and Gloria wants to get a better lawyer. Gloria smokes a strange brand of cigarette with yellow paper, something else from Virginia’s vision. Gloria also blames Virginia for stirring up all this trouble in the first place. Gloria explains that she renovated the same room in the old house a few weeks after Francesco left– that means that he couldn’t have been the murderer. That’s not evidence of an alibi though.
Bruna, Luca’s secretary, finds a list of cab drivers that might remember driving the dead girl to Francesco’s house five years ago. An anonymous old woman calls on the phone and leaves a clue. Except the answering machine cuts her off. Bruna finds the cab driver witness, and he says the girl was with a man with a beard and a limp. The superintendent of the museum has a beard. Elsewhere, we see Emilio Rospini, a new character, getting his beard shaved off.
Virginia talks to Rospini’s wife, and she mentions that he used to have a limp. He walks in and his wife complains that he’s cut his beard off. Virginia asks him if he knew the dead girl, and he gets nasty and throws her out. Virginia knows he’s the one. We see Rospini call someone and warn them “You’re in this too!”
Virginia spots the dead woman’s photo on a magazine cover along with a horse. The man at the stables tells her and Luca that’s Rospini’s horse in the photo– that was in 1973. That date exonerates Francesco and gives him his alibi, but the inspector says it will take some time to verify everything.
The police do some research and find that Rospini has left town. The anonymous old woman calls back, and this time, the information all comes through the machine. Gloria gives Virginia a new watch from a friend at the Vatican that plays a tune. She tells Luca that the tune is the same as in her premonition. Luca points out that the magazine issue couldn’t have been there when the girl was buried. What she saw may have been something that will happen in the future. After all, the woman that Virginia saw being walled up was an older woman. The murderer may be going to strike again.
Virginia takes a taxi to the address the old woman left her. She learns more and more of the things she saw in her vision that didn’t exist five years ago. Gloria tells Francesco, who is now out of jail, where Virginia went.
Virginia goes into the old woman’s house, and it all looks very familiar to her. She finds the dead woman there, dripping blood. The man with the limp comes down the stairs, and we see that it really is Rospini. She goes back into the old woman’s room and moves things around herself to match her vision– she’s gonna make it happen.
Virginia runs outside and hides in a church. She sees familiar things there too. Rospini comes in after her, but she hides. The alarm on her watch goes off, and he knows she’s in there. He corners her up on a platform, but the board he’s standing on breaks, and he falls to his apparent death. He tries to grab her on the way out, so he’s clearly not dead after all.
She finds a phone and calls Francesco. He says he’s been to the old woman’s house and called the police. She tells him where she is, and he promises to come right over.
He arrives, and she notices that he’s limping; he twisted his ankle recently. He pulls out a copy of that magazine with the dead girl on the cover. She looks at him and she knows.
Elsewhere Rospini is in the hospital, and the inspector comes in to question him. He denies killing the girl; she was already dead. He says Francesco did it. The horse groomer calls Luca and explains that he misremembered something about that horse– Francesco’s alibi was wrong.
Francesco picks up a fireplace poker and swings at Virginia; he breaks the mirror exactly as in her vision. He then hits her for real, knocking her out. He drags her body to the same hole the other dead woman was found in; he’s going to seal her in there.
Luca gets pulled over for speeding, but he drives off with the cop in pursuit. Meanwhile, Francesco is walling up Virginia. He finishes as Luca and the police drive up. He lets them inside and lies about not having seen Virginia. Luca notices the limp and the broken mirror, just as Virginia had described.
Luca looks at the fresh wall repair and hears Virginia’s watch alarm going off– behind the wall, ala “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
It’s decent. Premonitions are often used as a cheat in films, but this time around, it’s the whole cause of the drama. Everything revolves around Virginia trying to make sense of her vision. It’s more mystery than horror, but it’s got enough horror tropes and elements that it works well.
The Psychopath (1966)
* Directed by Freddie Francis
* Written by Robert Bloch
* Stars Patrick Wymark, Margaret Johnston, John Standing
* Run Time: 1 Hour, 22 Minutes
* Trailer: *
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Strange dolls and weirdness add to the entertainment value of this one. It tries to be a bit of a whodunit, but it’s pretty easy to sort of figure out who did it. Overall, it’s quite good and a fun watch.
A man notices he has a flat tire when he leaves the house. We see that someone in a red car just made the tire flat before the man arrived. As the man walks down the street, the red car slowly follows behind, then speeds up, then runs the man over. Twice. Three times. Inside the man’s violin case, we see a little doll that looks like the now-dead man.
Donald Loftis and his girlfriend Louise listen to a classical trio in their home. The fourth member of the quarter didn’t arrive– was he the man with the violin case? Yup! One of the men wonders where Klermer is– he hasn’t missed a weekly session in years. Inspector Holloway stops by to tell them about the dead man. Mr. Ledoux was at the pub, Mr. Roth was home sick, and Donald was busy getting a speeding ticket. Klermer was Mr. Saville’s lawyer. Everyone in the room had an alibi at eight o’clock. Except as he storms out, he says the murder was at seven, which was an odd bit of police work.
The inspector traces the murderer’s car, and it was stolen; the owner died on the operating table yesterday morning. The medical examiner looks over the little Klermer doll. The Inspector tells his assistant that he knows Louise works in… a doll shop. Her boss looks up the doll sales and says that someone bought six of those dolls a few months ago.
Inspector Holloway goes to the address provided and finds a whole house full of creepy dolls and automatic doors. Mrs. Von Sturm is there, and this has been her life for 23 years. She shows him her workroom, and he shows her the Klermer doll. She knows who it represents, but she denies making it. Mark Von Sturm runs in, and he says he knew Klermer was dead; it was in the papers. Mark also denies ever having seen the doll before. Mark’s father was a German industrialist in WWII and lost his fortune after the war– Klermer was their lawyer. Mark says that he was working as a night watchman last night at eight o’clock, but no one can vouch for that.
The inspector goes to see Victor Ledoux next. He’s a sculptor. He says that the whole group from the other night was part of a commission that studied war criminals, and Von Sturm was one of the people they investigated. All the men are wealthy, so none of them have any motive to embezzle Von Sturm’s fortune.
Donald and Louise talk to the doctor about her father, who’s having chest pains. The old doctor gives Louise some medicine for the grumpy father. Old man Saville doesn’t like Donald much, but Louise plans to marry him. That evening, Louise asks Donald to put off the wedding because of her sick father. Donald says her father is a selfish man– she gets angry and walks out.
Roth comes to Ledoux’s place to talk about the inspector. He asks, “What if they find out about us?” Ledoux is certain that Saville won’t talk. Meanwhile, over at Frank Saville’s place, he sees Mrs. Von Sturm in her wheelchair. “What do you want?” “What I’ve always wanted– justice!” She forces the issue, and he clutches his chest. He goes upstairs, and she can’t follow, so she goes home, where Mark is surprised that she went out.
Louise returns home to find her father looking unwell. She fixes his medicine, and he gulps it down. He finds a package on his bed and opens it. It’s a doll with his face. Donald arrives downstairs to apologize for their fight. The old man falls down the stairs with the doll in his hand, dead.
The Inspector tells Dr. Glyn the medicine that Saville took contained cyanide. Someone switched the bottles. Glyn is also Mrs. Von Sturm’s doctor, and he says that the old woman has “hysterical paralysis,” not a physical disorder.
Mark and his mother argue. Klermer had been working on clearing their father’s name and restoring their fortune. He suggests that she is losing her mind.
Victor Leddoux goes to the junkyard for metal for his sculptures. We see someone following him around with a noose, and then that person uses it on the artist. Mr. Roth comes to Ledoux’s place that evening and finds a doll of himself there. He almost immediately gets blowtorched to death.
The inspector and his assistant arrive sometime later and find the Roth doll badly burned and the Ledoux doll hanging.
Holloway points out that Louise stands to inherit a fortune and that Donald is deeply in debt. Donald had access to the poison medicine bottle. The inspector goes to the junkyard and finds a doll of himself in his car; he barely jumps away before it explodes.
Mrs. Von Sturm points out that she can’t walk, she couldn’t have killed anyone. Still, she’s the one thing connecting all the dead men: revenge is a great motive. He can’t explain why she would have waited twenty years for revenge.
Mark goes out; he has a rare date with Gina from the toy store. He’s trying to track down the six dolls that her shop sold; he wants four more. The next day, we see Gina leave work, and someone in a car with a doll of her, even wearing the same raincoat. Both Gina and the doll are stabbed to death.
Holloway pays a call on Mark at his job guarding the shipyard. Mark insists that his mother is a harmless old woman. Mark has books on “abnormal psychology” in his office. When the lights go out in the shipyard, Holloway goes to investigate, but Mark doesn’t follow. Mark pulls out a switchblade knife. He then releases a boat that almost runs Holloway over.
The two play cat and mouse through the cluttered warehouse. Then they start fighting, and Mark beats the older man unconscious. As he closes in for the kill with his knife, his mother rolls in. “No! What are you doing?!” Distracted, Mark gets buried in a huge anchor chain.
Holloway and his assistant have dinner and talk to Donald and Louise about the case. He says there’s no sign of Mark. He’s not sure if Mark was the murderer or if he was protecting the murderer. Turns out, the Nazi commission had cleared Von Sturm and returned his fortune to the family. The four dead men had lied under oath twenty years ago to get the old man’s money.
Louise goes to Mrs. Von Sturm’s house to talk to the old woman. The old woman has something to show her. It’s a letter from the Allied High Commission. She’s got her justice now. Their name had been cleared, so why would either she or Mark kill anyone? Except the report is dated two weeks ago- Mark intercepted the letter and killed the men to rid himself of the old woman. Louise says Mark is the murderer. “Where is he?”
The old woman opens a secret door to a staircase. There’s a doll of Louise in there. She finds Mark up there, we think taxidermized and made up like a doll. No, he’s not dead, his back was broken and he’s just really badly paralyzed. The old woman stands and climbs up the stairs. “No one can help him, no one but me. He’s mine now!”
Louise pushes the old woman down the stairs. Donald and the inspector run in to clean things up.
Mrs. Von Sturm’s house of dolls is super creepy, even without a bunch of murders.
As we slowly ran out of characters and suspects, it became obvious who the killer had to be. Except, even when it was over, we weren’t sure if the murderer was Mark or his mother.
This was surprisingly good.
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