Schizo (1976)

MAY 1, 2009


After the bliss of Disconnected, I probably shouldn’t have watched another “woman harassed by killer” movie so soon, as there is no way it could measure up. Luckily, Schizo brought some good stuff to the table, and what it lacked in delightfully batshit storytelling and “first time filmmaker” charm, it made up for in surprisingly gruesome kills, a fetching lead actress, and a “killer” who often resembled an old man who got lost during his daily walk around the block.

Let’s start with him. The movie’s title is essentially spoiling the ending, but even if it was called “Ham Sandwich”, it would be painfully obvious that the guy we’re supposed to think is a killer couldn’t possibly be responsible for the carnage we see, because he permanently looks confused and unaware of where he even is. I’m not sure if that’s how the role was written, or if it was just an acting choice on the part of Jack Watson, but it’s fairly damaging to the film’s mystery. Obviously he couldn’t play it as a menacing psychotic, because that wouldn’t make any sense once the revelations come around (something that sunk The Uninvited - Elizabeth Banks’ character was needlessly “shifty eyes evil” once the film reveals that she was innocent of the murder), but he could have at least acted a little less senile/homeless.

As for the actual killer, I don’t think it’s even spoiling anything to say that it’s the lead character, played by Lynn Frederick. I spent the entire movie wondering where I had seen her before, and I ultimately gave up and checked the IMDb (it was Phase IV). She’s a beautiful and natural looking actress, and it’s a shame that she became so hated after marrying Peter Sellers shortly before his death (the term “gold digger” will show up on any bio you read of the woman) that she was seemingly run out of town, never making another movie past 1980 and dying of alcoholism in 1994. A bummer; I would have liked to have seen her in more films. However, to make up for her under-populated filmography, she at least offers up the world’s briefest full frontal shot here.

The kills though, oh man. There aren’t a lot of them, but when they come, director Pete Walker makes em count. We get a nice throat slashing, a vicious stabbing, a needle through the back of an old woman’s head (the point then pops out of her eye!). But my favorite has to be the old psychic lady that is viciously beaten with a mallet, and then tossed under a bus! Holy shit it’s harsh. The movie is very British and fairly “proper”, so to have such Grindhouse-y deaths was a wonderful surprise. In fact, the kill scenes are often shot from the POV of the killer, giving them a Giallo feel (the killer even wears black gloves on occasion).

Had the movie been a bit tighter, it would probably be held in higher regard. It’s just under two hours, and it takes a while for the bodies to start piling up. Maybe had the mystery not been so easy to unravel, it wouldn’t feel as slow, but as is, you just want them to get on with it. There are like three scenes where Frederick sees the old guy, get scared, calls for help, and then her rescuers find nothing and assume she’s crazy. There are also a lot of red herring scenes (the husband is briefly set up as the killer), which again, aren’t quite as successful as they should be. However, if you missed the opening narration (which explains “schizophrenia” - this movie uses the incorrect but more widely understood version of the term, i.e. multiple personality disorder) and didn’t know the title, because you were flipping thru the channels and came in 10 minutes in, maybe you could totally buy that the old dude (or anyone BUT Frederick) was the killer.

Regardless, everyone can agree that the DVD itself should be more impressive. Not only is it a fairly lousy print (prepare yourself for a lot of dirt specks), but it’s as bare-bones as they come. Extras? Fuck, this thing doesn’t even have a main menu! Just a chapter search page. Come on now. We can all do better.

What say you?


  1. Ugh, can't say I'm a big fan of this one. That said, I mentally associate it with Killer's Moon, a British slasher film from around the same period, and Killer's Moon is one of the greatest movies ever, so it couldn't have been all bad.

  2. I want to get to this one eventually, really liked Frightmare and House of Whipcord, but based on the review I will be keeping it low priority


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