Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Strait-Jacket


This little gem starring Joan Crawford is a must see. It covers all the essentials... campiness, a stupid plot, bad acting and an aging Hollywood superstar with nothing else to do. This film was made by William Castle (House on Haunted Hill) who had always used gimmicks with his movies (buzzing theater seats for "The Tingler" and a flying skeleton for "House on Haunted Hill") stumbled upon the ultimate gimmick when he found Joan Crawford. She had been making movies for a hell of a long time, with a hit here and there. It appeared that she was losing ground as an actress and when "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" made her a hot item once again. This film soon followed and really is a great performance on Crawford's part (can't say anything good about anyone else in this movie though). Alright, the movie opens when Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) coming home early from a trip and catches her husband screwing an old girlfriend. She takes an ax, chops them to bits and is carted off to the loony bin. Their daughter witnesses the entire event. Fast forward twenty years, Lucy is finally released from the asylum and goes to stay with her daughter. All seems fine... the daughter is a pretty young woman now, is a sculptress and is engaged to a handsome young man. Things couldn't be going better... until Lucy starts to have nightmares about the murders and wakes up next to two severed heads and hears an eerie nursery rhyme about herself repeated incessantly (Lucy Harbin took an ax and gave her husband forty whacks and when she saw what she had done, she gave his girlfriend forty one). Strange events begin to happen and people start disappearing. Everything points to Lucy, of course. We also learn that the gentleman that Lucy's daughter is engaged to is the son of a wealthy, prominent, business man. Lucy's daughter Carol is positive that her fiances parents are not going to allow their son to marry a woman who's mother is a certified but rehabilitated lunatic. So she assumes that having her mother recommitted (and out of the picture) is the only solution. Lucy herself actually walks in on someone who looks just like her in the process of committing an ax murder. A scuffle ensues and the "other" Joan Crawfords mask is pulled off. Surprise, surprise... it's Carol. Having made the mask from a sculpture she had created of her mothers face. All in the attempt to drive poor Lucy over the edge again, so she can have her stupid fiances parents like her. Kinda dumb, but still very entertaining.

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