24 July 2014

Strait Jacket (1964)
93 min.
Directed by William Castle.
With Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson, George Kennedy, Rochelle Hudson, Howard St. John, John Anthony Hayes, Edith Atwater, Lee Majors.
A sassy grand guignol horror from William Castle.

Joan Crawford plays Lucy Harbor, newly released from a mental institution after serving twenty years for brutally killing her husband and his mistress...with an axe!

Her daughter Carol (Baker) tries to help her shaky mum adapt to life outside the sanitarium, by being extra sweet to her and buying her some new clothes and a wig.

Unfortunately, Lucy's troubles are far from over.

People around her start dropping like flies, suddenly murdered by an unseen assailant.

Is Lucy responsible? It would seem so, since poor Lucy believes she sees axe-decapitated heads lying about her bed, and starts hearing twisted nursery rhymes inside her head.

Or is someone trying to drive her crazy?

Crawford is very good in the best of her post-Baby Jane roles. Likewise, it's a solid effort from producer/director William Castle, who foregoes his typical box office gimmicks here and instead focuses on a straitforward plot, basic character development, and some conventional shock moments.

It's no, say, Aunt Alice, but it's surprisingly enjoyable fare - and a notch better than the other Crawford-Castle effort I Saw What You Did (1965).

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