Saturday, August 22, 2009

264) The Haunted Strangler (1958)

264) The Haunted Strangler (1958) Dir: Robert Day Date Released: July 1958 Date Seen: August 22, 2009 Rating: 3.25/5

The Haunted Strangler is one of the few horror films I've seen that looks like it is both about and directed by a schizophrenic madman. What looks superficially like a variation on Stevenson's archetypal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde quickly devolves into a haphazard heap of dangling plot threads and red herrings. The first 36 mins. of the film are spent watching Boris Karloff's venerable,* mild-mannered writer search for clues that might exonerate the man executed for being "The Haymarket Strangler." Then, in an uninspired twist, Karloff becomes possessed by the real killer's dagger and effectively becomes "The Haymarket Strangler." Then, one morning and a murder later, his wife tells him that he's always been "The Haymarket Strangler." Then he gets thrown into an asylum because nobody believes him when he says that he is in fact "The Haymarket Strangler." It's amazing that Karloff's character doesn't throw himself out of a window*** sooner than he does; my head's still reeling. 

*Karloff was in his earl '70s when he starred in The Haunted Strangler.

**Karloff's transformation from Jekyll to Hyde is marked by a hysterically campy half-puckered grimace he expertly wears with the skill and zeal of an unflappable veteran who looks forward to throwing himself into his work, no matter how silly.  

***Don't worry, he survives.

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