This movie starts abruptly with John Haloran (Peter Read) telling his wife Louise (Luana Anders) that she will not get any of his mothers inheritance if he is dead. Of course he dies almost instantly, so now Louise has to arrive at his mother’s house pretending John is still alive and on an assignment in New York. Louise arrives at the Haloran mansion, which is also occupied by John’s mother, two brothers, the fiancé of one brother, a doctor, and various servants. They are all mourning the passing of Kathleen, the younger sister of the Haloran boys, when suddenly an ax-wielding killer starts whacking the guests. If that sounds like a lot for a plot, it is, as this film tries to balance everything going on and deliver something cohesive—and surprisingly, it works.
This 1963 film, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Trilogy, Apocalypse Now)—his first directing job, and produced by B-Movie legend Roger Corman--is creepy at times, shocking at others, and wonderfully shot (the boom mike cameo notwithstanding). Yes, it obviously borrows a lot from Hitchcock films, but most good movies around this time did. The acting is pretty solid for the most part, with Anders and Bart Patton as Billy Haloran being the standouts. Unfortunately, the ending of the movie is anti-climatic and comes on as abruptly as the film starts. Still, this is a good, classic horror-suspense film worth a watch.
On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7