Though "Homicidal" owes a great deal to 'another' thriller, William Castle's variation carves out (sorry) its own identity, with a surprisingly effective mystery whose finale is interrupted by an onscreen clock, so wimpy audience members have a chance to leave the theatre before the film's horrifying climax kicks in.
More violent and grisly than Castle's usual fare, "Homicidal" also mixes the usual studio sets (there's that staircase again) with some nice day and nighttime locations. Columbia's transfer is full screen, and the source elements are visibly grainy in several spots, though the overall quality is still fairly sharp. For those who grew up seeing Castle's movies on TV, these recent digital transfers are a marked improvement, although "Homicidal" is oddly preceded by a disclaimer announcing the film has been "reformatted to fit your TV," leaving a big question mark as to whether a widescreen version ever existed. No details are given on the cover.
There's no complete "Homicidal" trailer, but a bad sub-VHS quality version is briefly excerpted in the informative featurette, "Psychette: William Castle and Homicidal." Like "Mr. Sardonicus," the same group of historians, fan and director make appropriately reverent comments, and snippets of the film's various premieres - attended by Castle himself - are intercut, along with happy audience members spouting cliched hyperbole.
Castle has fun with his usual array of ticking and heartbeat sound effects, along with familiar doses of assorted screams. The film's music score, composed by the great Hugo Friedhofer, is appropriately restrained, and the more subtle passages are balanced in the film's clean mono mix, with dialogue coming out sharply.
The DVD contains two anamorphic trailers, and a full-screen teaser for "Strait-Jacket."
Other entries in Columbia Tri-Star's William Castle series also inclide "13 Ghosts," "Mr. Sardonicus," and "Strait-Jacket."
© 2002 Mark R. Hasan
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