Actor Ray Danton stays strictly behind the camera to serve as director for this Greydon Clark story that may be a low budget horror outing but one that has plenty to offer including a cast where viewers can easily play “spot the star.”
Jim Hutton stars in his final theatrical release as an inmate at a prison facility where he is under the care of psychiatrist Julie Adams. At the time of this production, Adams just happened to be married to the film’s director. Hutton clearly possesses an unstable mind. At one moment he appears to be in need of a straight jacket, the next he is calm and quite docile. He’s doing time for an apparent murder of which he claims innocence.
Introduced to a form of black magic or voodoo if you prefer by another inmate and a strange looking charm, Hutton can use his mental capacities leading to out of body experiences. A situation which leaves his actual body in a corpse like state.With a little help from his voodoo mentor, he finds himself free. A man falsely imprisoned. A man with revenge on his mind aimed at those who in his warped view point were responsible for his incarceration.
Cut to the well known face of aging character player Whit Bissell who is first up on our list of victims. His rather lecherous doctor is about to take advantage of a much younger woman when he begins to hear things outside of his getaway love nest. With no witnesses or clues, the police are scratching their heads as to how he could be found with a snapped neck. The investigation is being led by Paul Burke and another star of the fifties, Aldo Ray. With a couple more bodies turning up in bizarre “accidents”, our intrepid officers start to suspect the recently released Hutton is somehow orchestrating the killings.
Julie Adams finds herself drawn into the proceedings and soon believes that her former inmate patient has a strange power allowing him to commit murder. Hutton seems to be enjoying himself and continually baits both Burke and Adams with sly comments like suggesting they get a good deal on meats down at the local butcher shop.
It seems that the local butcher played a hand in Hutton’s guilty verdict. That’s no butcher! That’s Neville Brand delivering one of his patented snarling, grumpy styled performances as he is introduced exchanging harsh words with store patron Della Reese. I’ll leave it to your imagination just how Brand could possibly have a freak accident in a butcher shop. Not quite sure how to prove Hutton is their man, Burke and Adams are off to see Nehemiah Persoff at the local University. He’s a bit of a ghostbuster who offers up a possible explanation as to just how Hutton is carrying out his evil designs.
I won’t divulge the solution that our crime fighters come up with other than to say I liked it and the film overall. I didn’t expect much out of this low budget shocker but that’s mainly from reading to many negative, down grading comments on it prior to putting my copy in the DVD player. It’s by no means deserving of a cult classic status but it isn’t without merit. A couple of the killings foreshadow what was to come in The Omen films when the power of Damien and his minions conveniently remove those in power who hinder his advancements. There’s just a little less finesse in the carrying out of the deaths here in Danton’s film.
Connecting the dots is always kind of fun for this film fan so even though they don’t share any scenes together, it’s hard not to notice that Julie Adams and Whit Bissell are in here together. Whit joined lovely Julie for their adventure versus the Creature back in 1954’s Black Lagoon. Neville and Aldo were well past their expiration date here but that didn’t stop them from sharing the screen a few years ahead in 1985’s low budget must be seen to be believed, Evils Of The Night.
With a Dan Curtis television feel to this creeper, it’s worthy of a watch for those who enjoy both the stars involved and the flavor of the low budget seventies thrillers.