|Available at Amazon.com|
When professional ice skater Samantha’s wedding plans are splashed across the newspaper, a grizzled-looking man sees the announcement and makes a trek to from northern England down into London. Once there, he begins to torment Samantha, starting with the placement of a bloody knife at her wedding reception. He continues his psychological games with phone calls and even places an old photo of Samantha’s mother in her house where she will see it. Samantha tries to explain to her new husband that she is being followed, but hesitates to give him any real details.
Worried for her safety, Samantha finally turns to her friend Leonard for advise. She admits to him that she knows the man, who went to jail for murdering her mother and now Samantha thinks he is after her. Leonard is skeptical, and brushes it off as purely an over-active imagination. But when people close to Samantha start showing up murdered in a most gruesome fashion, she knows that it is only a matter of time before she will again have to come face-to-face with her past, and that this time she may not survive.
Coming in at the tail end of the golden age of the giallo, director Pete Walker brought this tight-budgeted and slow-burning horror flick to the masses who still flocked to rundown theatres eager for some shocking murder sequences, a storyline filled with red herrings, and the chance at some gratuitous nudity. Walker, who had been churning out low-budget thrillers through most of the seventies, and perhaps best known for 1974’s Frightmare, once again teams up with writer David McGillivray to try and deliver what his audience expects. The result, though, plods along a little too slowly, and Walker takes his sweet time to establish his characters and settings before turning up the suspense and finally getting to a few decent, but uninspiring deaths.
McGillivray’s script is a run-of-the-mill mystery thriller, but to his credit he does at least establish several layers of misdirection and red herrings to keep the viewer attention as they guess just who the killer really is. Is it the obvious choice of the mysterious trench-coating wearing lunatic, Samantha’s jealous husband who suspects she is having an affair with Leonard, perhaps even Leonard’s wife, or is it all in fact just a figment of Samantha’s imagination? The final scene where all the cards are laid out on the table will have you reeling with its twisting shock value.
Walker does an amicable job in getting through some of the more wordy scenes, and shines the brightest through the creepy moments McGillivray delivers when something is amiss, and especially during the few build-ups when the killer finally strikes. Despite the limited budget, great care is taken to provide some graphic violence to please gorehounds who have patiently waited through a solid hour of suspense, including a lovely sequence in which a sewing needle is shoved through someone’s head. Lead actress Lynne Frederick, who was mostly likely chosen for her beauty over her line delivery, also provides the prerequisite skin for this sleazy affair.
All together, Schizo just falls just beneath delivering what a film of this caliber should. Though all the elements are potentially there, neither Walker nor McGillivray go that extra step to try and compete with the salacious material that was coming out of Italy at the time, which this movie was surely influenced by.
The film print, which is presented in anamorphic widescreen, features little, if any, restoration for this release, with many scratches and blemishes popping up throughout the movie. The audio, which features the original mono soundtrack, also suffers from a lack of restoration, and while the audio is clear, it has a consistent tinny and popping sound.
Stills Gallery – An Australian VHS cover and a few freeze frames from the movie make up this lackluster gallery.
Pete Walker Filmography – It is exactly that. Aside from a release date, no other information is provided on the titles.
Trailers Gallery – Includes trailers for Nature Morte and Aquarium, both released by Redemption Films.
Despite a sincere and competent attempt to shock and titillate, Schizo never really does gets up the momentum it needs to provide such entertainment.
Redemptions Films presents Schizo. Directed by Pete Walker. Starring Lynne Frederick, John Leyton, Stephanie Beacham, John Fraser, Jack Watson. Written by David McGillivray. Running time: 109 minutes. Unrated. Released on DVD: April 29, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.