Monday, July 16, 2012

Project Terrible: Anatomy of a Psycho (1961)

And we're back with more Project Terrible fun! This selection is courtesy of my good blog buddy Maynard of Maynard Morrissey's Horror Movie Diary and he has a pretty good rep of giving me some really awful movies in Project Terribles past. He keeps saying that I should love Anatomy of a Psycho because I love both Psycho and Anatomy of a Murder (oh, how clever they were, mixing the titles together like that). And though the title is great if not incredibly misleading, Anatomy of a Psycho was not that bad. I kinda dug it in the way that I dig a lot of these random 50s and 60s black-and-white thrillers.

Chet Marco's brother Duke has just been executed in the gas chamber for murder. While their sister Patty has come to terms with what he's done, Chet continues to have a hard time with it and gets his friends to help him beat up the prosecutor's son. But things get more complicated for everybody when they find out that Patty's boyfriend (and soon, fiance) is the son of the man whose eyewitness testimony helped put Duke away.

Though I say I kind of liked the movie, it's really only because of the story which is a good one, and perhaps would have made a better movie in different hands. Though the description on Netflix promises a revenge tale, and the title of the movie itself promises a tale of a man's descent into madness, none of this happens. Chet does seem to be going a little crazy but not overtly so - the actor, Ronnie Burns, just gives the audience a little of the wild eye to make us think he's crazy. Plus he gets that cool scar on his cheek, and crazy people always have scars, right?

The action scenes are fairly cheesy what with all the obvious fake punches and choreographed stunts. The part where Chet and his gang go after the son of the prosecutor was interesting because of the creepy sack masks that the boys were wearing. Chet also later burns a house down, so that makes for a cool shot, although the whole scene before that is very confusing and seems quite out of place.

Though I do have an affinity for movies from this time period, one thing that always bothers me is the lack of ingenuity with the camera and sets. In Anatomy of a Psycho, the sets are minimal, almost bare, and the actors just sort of stand around in them. The camera work is boringly static and there is nothing imaginative or innovative about the overall look of the film. Lighting is mediocre and the whole first couple of minutes are way too dark to even see what is going on.

The acting is also pretty cheesy, though some of the minor players do a better job than some of the major characters. The guy playing Chet was actually my least favorite, as he was often over the top and laughable. Everybody else was much more natural despite having to deliver some pretty bad dialogue in almost every scene.

So I'm sorry, Maynard, but Anatomy of a Psycho wasn't too terrible! It is actually pretty standard fair for movies of its time and genre so it worked for me on some level. The story isn't boring, so it at least kept me interested until the end - which comes quickly, as the movie is only about 75 minutes long.

You can get the DVD through Netflix as a double feature ("Killer Creature Double Feature" according to the menu) with another movie called Hatchet for the Honeymoon, but I didn't get a chance to watch that one before I sent it back. The DVD is also entertaining because of a random trailer for a Roger Corman movie called Creature from the Haunted Sea. I'm seeing a future Project Terrible movie for some unlucky blogger (or lucky, I guess, if you like Corman).


  1. I have a feeling I would kind of like this one too - well done dodging the Terrible Bullet this go-round, Michelle!

  2. You win some, you lose some :-)
    I admit, it's not that bad. I gave it a 3/10. Some ok scenes in the first half, but the second half is so unbelievably dull and boring, I almost fell asleep.

    Creature From The Haunted Sea? Sweet, I always wanted to see this :-)

  3. I rather liked this one... and "Creature From the Haunted Sea"? I think that one is lots of fun, assuming one doesn't mistake it for a real monster movie. (I rated it 5/10 back when I reviewed it.)

  4. A Liebster award for you!

  5. Oh man, you beat me to it! I got her a Liebster award too!

    1. HEY! I GOT BEATEN AGAIN! Pfft, dammit! XD

  6. Oh my goodness, I'm overwhelmed. Thank you all, this is really amazing and I appreciate it a lot!

    Ms. Goregasm, I don't make it over to your blog as much as I should (I'm terrible about that, ask anyone) but I love your style and I'll make more of an effort in the future, I promise!

    Alex, thank you so much and I cannot wait for Shark Month!

    Kaijinu, you're the best and I'm glad we've become blog buddies! Thank you!

    You guys all have some fun questions for the award receiver to answer so this might just turn into a huge post where I answer them all - will hopefully have it up on Saturday because I've been too pooped out from work and attempting to work out in the excessive heat (not a good idea, to be honest) to do much blogging this week.

    Although, I don't have anybody to give the award to now! You guys pretty much took all my nominees!