One in a long line of PSYCHO-imitators from the 60's, HOMICIDAL begins with Emily, an alluring young blond, seducing a bellboy into marrying her for a handsome fee. Before the ceremony is complete, she murders the Justice of the Peace and flees into the night. She returns to the household where she nurses the elderly Helga, but the family members quickly become suspicious of her frequent disappearances, especially after her likeness appears in the local papers. What follows is a twisted tale of greed and murder surrounding her husband Warren, his sister, and their father's enticing inheritance. HOMICIDAL may have broken free of its B-movie roots if it were not for Joan Marshall's wild-eyed expressions and hammy overacting that can never be taken seriously. She certainly acts crazy, but she appears to be completely detached from the character in a cold and emotionless performance. Most genre-enthusiasts will spot the obvious plot twist very early on in the script, when the audience is first introduced to the rat-like Warren. The "Fright Break" gimmick that occurs right at the climax also destroys what little suspense is left over in the end. Always the showman, William Castle still brings a refreshingly crisp cinematography and expert framing to the picture, which makes up for many of the sillier elements in the film. Even with its familiar structure and expected ending, HOMICIDAL is one of Castle's stronger thrillers, and a worthy nod to the PSYCHO legacy.
If you liked HOMICIDAL, check out:
STRAIGHT-JACKET, SCREAM OF FEAR, DEMENTIA 13.