Time for another movie review from the 50 Movie Pack! I think my next review (after this one, whenever that may be) is going to be one of the stand alone movies, just because I need a break from the dodgy film quality on the multi-movie deals. I haven't decided which one firmly yet, but I'm leaning toward the Gene Hackman/Shelley Winters/etc. "The Poseidon Adventure". I love that movie (you know, once the ship gets wiped out of course).
And, I've gone super-effing-crazy because I keep returning to the idea of a multi-part review of the super-long director's cut of the three "Lord of the Rings" flicks... which, you know, sounds like it might kill me when I actually type the idea out here. But, I keep returning to really wanting to do it.
But, we're here to talk about the Disc1, Side B, first movie:
Anatomy of a Psycho (1961)
Starring: Ronnie Burns, Pamela Lincoln, Darrell Howe
DIR: Boris Petroff
Disk Blurb: 'A young man' (cough-cough) 'is despondent over the conviction and subsequent execution of his older brother. Having idolized his brother to the point of it being an obsession (Kinky? No.), the young man cannot believe he was guilty, even though he was, and swears to avenge him. The crazed young man decides to carry out his revenge by tracking down and killing all of the officials and jurors responsible for his brother's trial and execution.
This is not a spoiler-free zone.
Scene 01: We start with a pre-credits shot of a city at night, cars with their lights on a busy highway.
Commentary: Already, film quality is appalling (Thank you, Mill Creek Entertainment), but I'm hoping it is due to stock footage and things will improve drastically (a foolish hope, but one grabs onto what one can, doesn't one... oh, man, I'm not going to be talking in the third person through this whole thing and rambling, am I?).
Scene 02: We focus our attention on the back of a truck, from which a newspaper-bundle delivery guy is throwing the nightly paper out to the stands as he wisks by.
We see utterly random people walking down the utterly random sidewalk.
We see an "Extra, Extra" newspaper seller guy hawking the latest edition as the newspaper-bundle delivery truck continues on its way. The music assures us that a big revelation is coming, probably via Newspaper Headlines... I hope they're spinning headlines.
More 'Extra, Extra' guys on the street - and apparently when these guys existed in the 1960's, they assured their success by standing bunched together within a few feet of one another and all hawked the same edition. I had no idea that business model could be such a winner.
Scene 03: But, our story doesn't belong to Newspaper-Bundle deliver trucks or to 'Extra, Extra!' news hawkers. We close on a man looking at the page one headlines.
Commentary: My hopes that Mill Creek picked only copies of movies that had some quality to them, so we aren't straining our eyes too badly are dashed upon the rocks that all fools end up being battered upon.
Our man gives the camera a despondent glare, before throwing his copy of the newspaper on the ground and angrily walking away.
Scene 04: We get our newspaper headline at this point, but it doesn't come whizzing in with a spin, alas. It does sum up things nicely for us:
"MARCO DIES TONIGHT FOR BRUTAL SLAYING"
Scene 05: We fade cut to the outside of an imposing looking prison, where presumably Marco is about to meet his maker. The soundtrack is good and popping so that we don't get any misconceptions that Mill Creek gave a crap.
Cut to inside this fortress, where a solitary guard walks the catwalks and looks over the pensive quiet of the prisoner cells. Quick cut to a specific cell that has several guards standing around it.
Scene 06: Our Mr. Marco's brother guy is signing a form to collect items from his soon to be deaded big bro. The check-in guard gives him a small bag of items that the Elder Marco has bequeathed him from his cell. He reluctantly takes them and wearily wanders away.
Commentary: I thought we were going to get a big 'last visit' scene, but apparently not.
Scene 07: We get a wipe-cut back to the outside of the imposing prison wall. Our Marco bro (I guess I might have to look this up on IMDB, since we're apparently getting credits at the end of the movie and this guy hasn't been given a name yet: It's Chet).
So, Chet walks along in front of the imposing castle-like prison wall.
Commentary: Actually, he doesn't. He walks along a soundstage in which a prison wall is back-projected. And, as is so often the case, the prison is jittering all over like there is an earthquake going on and Chet doesn't notice. It isn't as headache inducing as in "She-Wolf of London", but it is noticeable.
Chet holds his brother's shirt (received with his effects) and looks... uh... dour? Sure, let's go with 'dour'.
Scene 08: On his long walk home, he enters an alley where some local toughs (cough-cough) intercept him.
Commentary: Here's a weird thing... Mr. Howe has third billing according to IMDB, but he appears to be the main character... hmmm... was Ronnie Burns somebody that I'm supposed to recognize, because he has first billing as 'Mickey'.
But, back to the 'toughs'. They question him about seeing big Marco-bro and about conditions inside the prison. Chet is obviously handling the whole sordid business with his brother badly and insists he be left alone. But Tough #1 won't let him walk away without answering his question, for no other reason than to be an asshole.
Tough #1 has his hands slapped off of him, and shares posturing talk with his two buddies at Chet Marco's expense. He makes a mistake when he calls Chet's brother a 'punk killer' and gets tossed around the alley, while his friends look on seemingly frozen with indecision (or just wanting their friend to get his ass kicked).
Chet kicks Tough #1, but when he turns to walk away, he gets come after with a broken bottle. Tough #1 slashes Chet across the face and then he and his posse take off running.
Scene 09: Chet Marco stumbles back to the apartment he shares with his sister, Pat. She tends to his wound. Pat wants to call a doctor for his face, but he yells at her no. Then as she dabs at the slash mark, she asks about his going to the prison. We find out that the elder Marco brother is named 'Duke'. Duke had asked them not to go and see him and they'd agreed, but Chet obviously broke that promise, so disturbed is he by his brother's execution sentence.
Pat gets out of Chet, Duke's last words to his family.
The two siblings get into an argument over Chet's emotional state over Duke. Pat believes that he was justly convicted for murder, and while she loves her brother, she's made herself okay with his sentence. This is leading to a clash with Chet, who is convinced that Duke was telling him the truth when he claimed that he wasn't the killer, which Pat doesn't believe.
Commentary: Pamela Lincoln does some nice work with this scene. She looks all the more impressive next to Darrell's over-emoting. This whole scene is alright, but it is a bit repetitive on the "Chet feels angry and distraught" theme. Also, a lot of this scene is blocked like it's a two-man stage play and feels static, like we're waiting for a curtain to close to end the scene.
Pat tries to block Chet's path from his storming out, pissed off that Pat could suggest that Duke would lie to him. He also thinks she's pretty ungrateful for Duke raising them. We don't know, yet, what happened to their parents that put Duke in the position of having to play parent.
Scene 10: After Chet has stormed out and Pat collapses into tears, we cut to a completely different set of characters. Another young man watches at a window until he sees another man, his father, pull up. He grabs a book and sits, pretending to have been reading as dad comes in from.
Apparently it is late, because Dad seems surprised that Son is still up studying. Son is giving off "I am pissy" vibes, which Dad doesn't pick up on, so junior must slam his book close to make his displeasure known.
Commentary: Whoa... awkward acting! And, unnatural dialog to establish these are father/son, which being 1961, what did they think we'd assume?
Son, who is Mike, is upset also about Duke's impending death. It turns out that his father with the awkward acting style, was the chief eyewitness for the prosecution. Mike is blaming dad, apparently, for his testimony that got Duke his death sentence. Dad responds saying "I've never known you to be so unreasonable."
Commentary: First, that dialog is unreasonably dialogy - and not how people actually speak. Second, this whole scene's delivery between these two actors is unreasonably awkward (see what I'm doing here). And third, it's hard to argue on Mike's behalf here. If his dad saw Duke kill somebody, should he have made something up or stayed quiet about it on the off-chance that the judge/jury would go with the death penalty? It seems like Mike is, in fact, being unreasonable. Finally, I'm hoping that we're going to have a reason that Mike cares a whit about Duke Marco that will explain this weird, unreasonable introduction to these characters.
Anyway, so Dad is telling Mike he's never known him to be so unreasonable. He further tells his pissy son that he had to tell what he witnessed. Son continues to blame dad for sending a man to his execution, which seems like a pretty awful thing to pin on his old man for doing nothing more than testifying to what he was an eyewitness to. (Line delivery: Stilted, flat and still awkward... and still giving this "we're on a stage reciting dialog in a play" feel, so it must be coming from the director's chair).
Dad comments on Mike's emotional involvement in Duke Marco's fate and wonders if he's close friends with Chet Marco, but his son denies this - reporting that he does know who he is though (I'll also just spoil future development here and tell you he's also Pat's boyfriend -- that should be a comfortable relationship).
Son, still being unreasonable, suggests his dad could have altered his testimony on the stand to leave some reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds. He then drops the bombshell that he doesn't want to live there anymore. He worries everyone will know that his father's testimony sent Duke to the great hereafter. Dad assures his pricky son that his time on the witness stand was a closed hearing, so no one will know of his involvement, which seems unlikely.
Mike storms off to his room, Dad expresses his disappointment in his attitude toward him in another line of dialog that doesn't sound like normal people would speak. And, the soap opera music underneath isn't helping any, either.
Scene 11: Back with Chet the wanderer, briefly. We get an establishing shot of a house with boarded up windows. Inside this is three guys playing poker. Chet mopes in.
Chet demands a drink, which Mo (who looks way too old to be here) states he doesn't have. Another of the friends tells him he'll pay him the dollar for the liquor and to give Chet his drink. Mo goes for the hidden booze, but tells everyone it wasn't the money, he just didn't think Chet should be getting drunk in his emotional state.
The flask is handed around, with Chet being a guzzler. Bobby, another friend who is playing the 'young innocent' is barred by Chet from having any - even though Bobby is also played by someone clearly too old for his part.
Commentary: This scene, while establishing that Chet has some layabout friends, doesn't actually add anything to the story. It goes nowhere, other than telling us that Chet is emotionally unstable due to his brother's still-about-to-happen-get-on-with-it execution, which we already know.
The radio in the boarded up clubhouse interrupts the jazzy score to report that the governor has refused Duke Marco's request for a stay and is headed for the death house in 5 minutes. Chet is wild-eyed at the radio report. Chet has an emotional breakdown as he imagines his brother being marched to his final moments.
Scene 12: Fade from Chet's anguished face to the doomed Duke being marched down the hall in the prison. His mode of death is the gas chamber, and he looks not at all resigned to his fate.
Back with Chet, he comes out of his imaginings of his brother's terror and goes on a rampage about his friends' hangout. Since there is very little in the room, and he doesn't want to break anything though, this amounts to tearing blankets off cots and bouncing along the walls as Mo complains.
Bobby tries to comfort him, but gets pushed away. When Chet overturns the card table and promises revenge on those responsible for his brother's death, Danny (who gets a name finally) punches him out. He's laid out on a cot where he collapses into tears for his believed innocent brother's death at the hands of the state.
Scene 13: Chet bullies his friends into starting to exact his revenge with somebody (It turns out to be the son of the D.A. on his brother's case). Mo hides in the guy's backseat, while Chet, Bobby and Danny are tucked away nearby. Bobby and Danny have burlap sacks for their heads to hide their identities, which seems less than helpful since Mo and Chet don't.
Commentary: Continuity! The friends stake out the car - a convertible with the top down - but when Mo is shown in the backseat hiding out, the top is suddenly up.
There is a nonsuspenseful scene where Mo is nearly discovered by random brats playing in the street by bouncing a ball against a random stranger's car. They just as suddenly and randomly run off (kids of the director?). Victim-guy returns to his car, not noticing that the top that was down, is suddenly up again.
Scene 14: In his car, the guy is grabbed by the hair from behind by Mo in his burlap face mask and is held at knifepoint. He's escorted out of his car and around to the back of some building or another... in broad daylight.... And, this is where I discovered that the guy I was referring to as Mike, actually wasn't.
Chet and friends stand there threateningly for a moment, looking like no one actually wants to make the first move to mete out some violence. Mo still has his knife, but looks less than sure about what to do with it, now that they have Victim-guy cornered.
Son of D.A. throws out that information as a reason as to why the four burlapped-sacked men might want to re-think this whole victimization thing.
Well, that is all that, we'll assume Chet, needed to be reminded of. He jumps on the D.A.-son and beats him unconscious as the Burlap-Hood Gang looks on. Chet whales on the guy for awhile, until one of the gang yells that somebody is coming. Chet is pulled off of D.A.-son and they run off, leaving their hoods behind for some ill-thought out reason.
Commentary: Yellow flag on the scene for overuse of overly!dramatic music to let us know this is dramaticle.
Scene 15: Elsewhere, Pat is in school at her locker (High School? She looks a bit old, but that isn't new, so we'll just accept it). Mike comes out of the library then, and Pat calls him over with a 'Hi, Mickey' ... so, that explains why IMDB has a cast listing for 'Mickey', but not 'Mike' ... they're the same person.
Mike (that is who he started out as, that is what I'm calling him) and Pat have a talk. It is obvious here that they've been going steady, as Pat asks him why he hasn't called and if he's ashamed of her. He denies this. The bottom line is that she's insecure because of the Duke situation. Mike has his own issues that he chooses not to share the details of, but that revolve around his dad's testimony being responsible for Pat's brother's execution.
Scene 16: Later, at the apartment, Pat is fixing dinner for Chet and wants to talk to him. He's not enthusiastic, but she complains the only time she sees him anymore is when he comes home briefly to eat. Bobby is also there, but is quickly sent on his way back to the shack - no dinner for him. There is a hint that Bobby might have a bit of a crush on Pat (but later, I think he may have a crush on Chet).
Pat offers to Chet that she could quit school and get a job, allowing him to go to school instead. She specifically gives the reason that as a girl, she doesn't need an education, but Chet won't hear of it.
Next, she returns to the hero-worship that her brother has built up around Duke, who she has a more realistic view of. He's focused on Duke's raising on them and keeping them out of an orphanage, and she's grateful for that, but she also knows the less than morally upstanding ways that Duke afforded it.
Chet storms out without dinner after yelling at his sister for being a hypocrit for living off of the money that Duke, the hoodlum, brought in for them. She reminds him she was just a kid, too. She asks him to stop whatever he's allowing to eat him up inside and to grow up, before it's too late.
Commentary: During their argument, Chet gets up and bends way over the dinner table to yell in her face. I notice he has a nice ass... no, there wasn't really any point to that observation, but we've already heard this argument between them, so I'm looking for distraction.
With Chet huffing and puffing his way out of their apartment, Pat turns away worried to answer the ringing phone. It's Mickey and Pat asks him to come over as she's near tears over the Chet-problem.
Scene 17: Chet visits a trailor, where a young woman of his acquaintence lives. She's the sort who walks around in front of the trailer windows in a bra and slip. At first, she tells him it's too late for his visit and he'll wake up her mother. He warns he'll wake the whole neighborhood if she doesn't get herself out there. He's such a charmer, ladies!
She takes the time to throw on a sheer robe. Baby gives him all kinds of sly glances as she tells Chet she can't see him anymore, dribbling out details that she has a 'new friend' as generic, sultry music plays in the background.
Commentary: Continuity! Chet's entire wardrobe has changed. Where his butt looked swell in jeans, now he's wearing white slacks and his butt appears flat. No, there wasn't really a point to that observation, either. I just thought we were supposed to have started on our vengeance kick, and instead we're playing domestic drama games, so again, looking for a little distraction.
Anyway, Baby teasingly wanders toward a dark corner, giving him the seductive eye, even as she is telling him he's being replaced. Chet doesn't seem too put out by her claims that she's moving in classy circles now, where he doesn't belong. He reacts to this by giving her a deep kiss and pressing against her heaving bosom.
He then leads her into a shed for a spot of classless sex, which she follows along for.
Scene 18: The next morning at The Shack, the Burlap Hood Gang are hanging out.
Commentary: I'm momentarily confused, because we seem to have added an extra man somewhere along the line. One who couldn't have been with the Burlap Gang during their exploits, but which they freely talk about their assault on D.A.-son in front of.
Anyway, one of friends - I think Danny - comes in with the paper, congratulating Chet on making it in. (And, hey! Now, we have SIX guys in the room... they're multiplying faster than bunnies.) One of the new, random guys reads the paper aloud, and they're all amused.
There is a knock on the door, and it's Mike/Mickey there to speak to Chet. Everyone acts like Mike is a member of the geek squad, while they're the cool-cats, even though they're all wearing pretty much the same clothes, none of which is what you'd expect a bunch of streetwise roustabouts to wear... no worn jeans, no leather jackets, no biker boots, and no studded belts, the way I prefer my roughneck wastrels.
Mike has come to invite Chet to a party on behalf of his sister, who misses him and feels badly about their recent spat about the trouble-causing and dead, Duke.
Mo, for reasons unexplained, takes an immediate disliking to Mike. He tells Chet that he thinks Mike wants to whisper sweet nothings in his ear, which I'd really much rather see than the unconvincing macho posturing taking place. Anyway, things nearly come to blows between Mike and Mo over nothing in particular.
Before things can escalate, a newcomer comes into the shack, and I'm ready to complain about all these new people in the Burlap Hood gang. You see the newbie comes in wearing one of the, let's call 'em the Core-4, hoods from their recent misadventure. He's not a welcome member of the gang, though. He's a police detective investigating the assault on D.A.-son, who thought it would be funny to wear evidence around on his investigation... Ah, 1960's police work... when dedicated law enforcement personnel had a sense of humor and no bothersome thoughts about compromising a case's integrity.
Mo complains with a completely bizarre statement, "What is this, the Pentagon?! I live here!" UH... OKAAAAAYYYY....
Anyway, it appears the detective isn't a stranger to these boys. They share un-clever and un-amusing banter. The detective tries talking like they're all just shooting the breeze, while asking pointed questions about the assault - - all of it is uninteresting. We find out that Mo is an ex-marine, which may explain why he looks even older than the "kids" that hang out in his house. When he also tries to misdirect the detective to the local gang, The Scorpions, by calling them "tough studs", I immediately wonder why he has such a collection of "young men" hanging around his very crowded house for.
That leads to thoughts that are far more interesting than this scene, but we must focus on what is happening and not on thoughts of gay-orgies. So Detective Not-So-Smooth gets a lot of nothing, but seems to have correctly sized up Bobby as the weak link, before Chet steps in front of him to draw his focus back.
After the detective leaves, and the front door is left open so he really should have just stopped right outside the threshold, Mo complains about the police barging into his pad. Chet tells him to chill out, that he just confessed to them that he doesn't have anything on them (See - should have stopped on the porch, Detective). He also tells Mo that the boy having the party that Mike had mentioned is the Judge-who-condemned-Duke's son.
Scene 19: That afternoon, Mike has brought Pat to his home to introduce her to the father. They're dressed up, since they'll be heading to that party talked about earlier, in which Chet will no doubt cause a scene or try to exact vengeance on the judge's son.
Commentary: Doze-doze-doze... can we jump into the 'Psycho' part? The early part of this scene is painfully acted... Pat does well, but Mike and his father are clumsy and stiff. I do find it slightly amusing that Mike's dad is embarassed because Pat saw him in his T-Shirt, rather than 'presentable'.
The second part of the scene isn't horrible, but the soap opera music under it is... horrible, I mean.
The second half of this "meet my father" scene involves Mike's dad realizing (and Pat confirming) that Pat is related to Duke Marco, who he had testified against, of course. As you can imagine, there is some uncomfortable silence and you really can't blame Mike's dad for feeling a bit ambushed.
Mike's dad excuses himself for a moment, before calling Mike to join him for a moment.
Scene 20: In his room, Mike's dad gives Mike the stink-eye for not warning him that he was getting involved with the sister of the man he helped get convicted of a capital crime. Mike tries the old "I just wanted you to give her a chance before you found out who she is" nonsense.
Mike's dad is, naturally enough, upset about this situation. He confronts Mike on if Pat knows he was the key witness but Mike hasn't shared this either with her.
Commentary: Mike is a turd.
Scene 21: In the tiny living room, Pat plays with the piano keys nervously as she awaits her boyfriend.
Scene 22: Back in the bedroom of angst, Mike's father is asking him questions about just how much he knows about his girlfriend. He's concerned she may not be the right kind of people, but he doesn't state that outright.
Commentary: The music has been switched here - Pat's fiddling with the piano, rather than the knock-off soap opera music, so I'm grateful for that. But, Mike's dad's acting is still really... self-conscious, maybe? I don't know, exactly, but he's striking me as soapy, too and it's bothersome.
Mike's dad finally allows his son to handle the revelations that will be coming his way, but he warns him there is going to be some serious heartache to deal with when Pat finds out about their family's connection with Duke's fate.
Scene 23: Pat and Mike go to the party and there is music that no teenager would be listening to and dancing couples arrayed artfully around the pool. Also there is Chet's floozie with her new, richer man. This new, richer man is naturally Chet's target.
And, he has made his appearance, standing seperate from everyone else and searching for his former girl and his upcoming victim. Chet greets his sister and Mike, who are friendly - despite Mike and his earlier confrontation in the Shack of Delinquency. In another area, Chet's floozy and her new boytoy has also noted his arrival and boytoy (who looks close to his 30-s) snarks that he could have at least warn a tie to the soiree.
Chet joins Arthur (the aged boytoy) and his former floozy, now boytoy's girlfriend. Arthur gets on my immediate nerves by using the phrase "old boy" continuously, without the clipped, aristocratic, British accent that makes it tolerable. I'm already looking forward to Chet beating him.
There is some "sly" "banter" regarding Chet having formerly met floozy before and the fact that Chet's "girlfriend" is unpredictable and he never knows where or when she'll show up. Chet finally goes away to "circulate", leaving Arthur with a look on his face like he senses something off between Chet's glances at his new girlfriend, but isn't quite sure that he saw what he thinks he might have seen.
Scene 29: Over at a fountain, Mike sits Pat down. He's chosen now to reveal that it was his father who helped to get her eldest brother convicted.
Commentary: Because, as we all would do in this situation, he's decided that the middle of a party where Pat was looking a little too happy is the perfect place to spring this on her. Mike is a turd and unfortunately early 1960's Pat doesn't immediately stand up, slap him and give him a good kick in the nutsack for being such an insensitive, grossly inappropriate, dunderheaded schmuck for doing this to her where she can't react, because she doesn't want to make a scene.
Thankfully for Mike, Pat doesn't immediately dump his ass. Instead, she tells him at first that she doesn't know how to react. She tells him that she's numb and shocked. As this wears off though, she puts a smile on her face and tells him it doesn't matter. She assures him that she bears no ill-will toward his father for doing what he had to do. I guess I'll have to continue to be outraged on her behalf.
Mike, not done with delivering the shocks for the evening, also suddenly out of the blue asks her to marry him. She accepts and they kiss - the whole revelation about Duke and Mike's father apparently having no impact whatsoever.
Scene 30: Elsewhere, the partiers continue to spin elegantly around the pool to music that no teen would be listening to. We can see floozy and Arthur tripping the light fantastic, he still looking way too old. Although, it would explain why he's playing this sort of music and why the party is so formally dressed. Perhaps Arthur wasn't meant to be in his late teens/early twenties?
Scene 31: Arthur and floozy leave the dance-around-the-pool scene to gaze out over the grounds. He entices her into a walk, but she needs to freshen up first. He tells her to go ahead and use his mother's room, while he waits for her where he is. This allows Chet to watch her walk toward the house, unescorted.
Scene 32: In Arthur's mother's room, the first thing floozy does is start snooping through her stuff. It doesn't take long for a contemptuous Chet to track her down in the house (notice, he lights a cigarette and throws the spent match on the carpet). He snubs out his cigarette on an oil painting in the hallway with an amused sneer at his act of vandalism, before grounding it into the carpeting as well.
Commentary: The music, by the way, is far more likely for a teen party in the background.
Chet confronts floozy and she complains that he wants to ruin her chances of catching Arthur and moving up in the world. Chet just claims that he's bored by the party on to pool patio, and wants to share a drink with her (he produces a flask from his jacket). Floozy tries to tell Chet she doesn't want him anymore, but wants all of the riches she sees in front of her. He tells her she doesn't have to choose one or the other and begins to seduce her, still in Arthur's mom's room.
Outside, Arthur has noticed that this 'freshening up' seems to be taking a long time. He proceeds to go into the house to find out what floozy is doing.
Scene 33: Well, Arthur isn't pleased to see Sandra (the floozy) sitting a little too close to Chet in his mother's room. Arthur immediately turns on Chet, but his attempts to punch or so wildly telegraphed, slow, and clumsily choreographed (Oops - maybe we aren't supposed to notice that last one) that he misses several times and goes stumbling around the room.
Hilariously, Chet doesn't lay a hand on him, but Arthur still manages to throw himself into his mother's dressing table mirror, cutting his head open. Floozy tries to tend to Arthur's self-inflicted wound. He turns away from her and runs away, blood streaming down his face as Sandra runs after him yelling his name way too many times to be tolerable. Chet has lit up another cigarette and watches all of this with amusement.
In an act that I would describe as *finally psycho*, Chet starts a waste can fire deliberately with his smoke, pushing the trash can against the mom's bedroom's curtains. He, self-satisfied, grabs his jacket and slowly walks away as the room catches ablaze.
Scene 34: Cut to unnecessary shots of fire department vehicles pulling out of their respective station houses. When we cut back to the manse, it is well and truly lost to the flames.
Chet is walking down the street, smile in place, as he hears the fire engine sirens.
Scene 35: Later that night, Detective Not-Clever intercepts Bobby outside of a low-scale pool hall. Detective Not-Clever not cleverly tries to pressure Bobby into revealing something about the mysterious fire at the judge's house that afternoon. But Bobby claims complete ignorance, as he had been in the movies all afternoon. Bobby is rather guiless, so I believe him, but the detective apparently doesn't completely buy his "I'm just an innocent rube" routine.
Chet interrupts this useless tete-a-tete, and the detective not at all subtly asks if he enjoyed the party at the judge's. Detective Not-Clever admits to Chet that he has no way of telling who set that fire at the judge's, but clearly he suspects our psycho - who hasn't really been until now. He tries to warn Chet that he's being gnawed on by the hate growing inside him, and he's going to end up going too far (which apparently burning down judge's homes isn't).
Chet tough-talkedly tells him to get off his back until the time comes when he thinks he can put him into the police bracelets.
Scene 36: Back at the Shack, Bobby and Mo share a domestic scene with Bobby making up a pan of soup. Mo tells him he needs to get out of there for awhile, but Bobby turns down his invite to join him. Mo goes off to wash up, while Bobby sits at the table and eats.
Chet arrives at the shack and does a lot of nothing for several boring minutes. Finally, he reaches under a couch cushion for a gun that Mo apparently keeps there. He sits around fondling it behind Bobby's back, until the simple young man hears him clicking the magazine.
Chet tells Bobby that he can't hang around with him anymore, which Bobby takes as Chet being angry at him... poor, simple and guiless Bobby. Chet tells him that there is going to be trouble and he doesn't want him involved. He tells Bobby that he has to make "them all" pay for Duke's execution.
Bobby tells Chet that he's the one that Bobby looks up to and trusts.
This is all interrupted by the unwelcomed arrival of Mike, who comes in just in time for Mo to return to the scene, so there can be more threats and posturing between the two of them. Mike is actually there to talk to Chet, but as mentioned before, Mo took an immediate disliking to Mike/Mickey for some reason and that continues here.
Mike tries to get Chet to leave with him to talk, but when he refused to go, Mike blurts out everything. He tells Chet that he has asked his sister to marry him, which Chet claims to not care about either way. Next, because Mike is a turd, he also tells Chet that it was his father who got Duke convicted and subsequently executed, and no, I can't imagine why he thought this was a good idea.
Well, as one can imagine, Chet doesn't respond well to this information. Far less well than Pat herself did. In fact, Chet appears to have a complete emotional breakdown, getting violent with Mike over his impending plans with his sister, after his family "killed" Duke. They get into a fist fight. Mike, unrealistically, punches Chet out.
Commentary: Oh. My. God... unrealistically is correct. The fight correography here is appalling. Mike delivers the fakiest-fake "punch" to the gut ever filmed. It's so bad, it's unintentionally funny.
Mo, having looked forward to a reason to kick a little Mike-ass, dives into the fray. Mo does better against Mike, until the young man grabs a knife off of the table which had no purpose in being there, since Bobby was eating SOUP. And, what of Bobby? Oh, he was standing against the wall not getting involved.
So, Mo takes a knife to the gut in a combination of Mike holding the blade in front of him and Mo throwing himself on it (in order to make it Mo's fault). Mo falls to the floor. Everyone freezes and looks a Mo struggling to keep breathing, until Mike pulls out of his shock long enough to run.
After Mike runs off, Mo begs for help. Bobby also should have ran, but he's frozen with indecision, and ergo sees psycho-Chet offer to help Mo. This involves him shoving the knife even further into Mo's guts, killing his 'friend' ... and ergo proving that he's lost it. Seeing this, Bobby finally decides he needs to get out of there, but it's too late for that. Chet grabs ahold of him and stares him down.
Now, at first, there seemed to be no reason why Chet decided to kill his 'best friend', but Chet is thinking ahead. Mike is the one who had the blade, which he and Bobby can testify to. And, now Mo has died. What wonderful revenge will it be for Mike to be convicted of murder and executed, the way Duke was? That will make Mike's witness-father pay for what happened to Chet's brother!
Scene 37: We return to the newpaper headline motif that informed us about Duke Marco's execution. Now, they're reporting that Mickey Craig has been indicted.
Scene 38: Later in a visiting room, Pat sits across from Mike. He asks if she's seen Chet. Pat reports that Chet has cut off all contact with her, but that she's been visiting his dad alot. Mike is sympathetic toward Chet for what he has gone through, which Pat questions because of everything that her brother has done to him.
Commentary: At first, I thought that they somehow knew about Chet's involvement with Mo's death, but that made no sense, since Mike is clearly still going on trial. Now, I'm taking this as being about all of the general poor treatment that Chet visited onto Mike even before his father's role in Duke's trial came up.
Scene 39: Sometime later, Mike's trial begins. All of our major players are in the courthouse, including the Detective, who is called as the first witness. The detective gives some damning testimony about the fight he witnessed between Mike and Mo from so long before.
Next on the stand is Bobby, who the defense tries to portray as someone willing to say anything to protect his friend, Chet. Why that is even relevant, since Mike had the knife and Mo was stabbed while he was holding it, and no one is aware of Chet's involvement in Mo's death except Bobby, who presumably didn't rat him out to the defense, I don't know. Bobby corroborates Chet's testimony (which occurred entirely off screen) earlier.
Commentary: This whole sequence doesn't make any sense! Why in the hell would you film Bobby agreeing to Chet's version of events, without actually showing Chet's relevant and entirely necessary testimony?! What the hell?
Especially, since Chet and Bobby can both testify that Mike had the knife and that he was holding it when Mo was stabbed! Yes, we know that Chet helped things along by actually murdering Mo, but without that detail, it is still clearly Mike at fault for turning a fist fight into a knife fight and that slightly edited by Chet version of events would seem to be the big, damning scene in Mike's trial to show. I am at a complete loss as to what the director was thinking, here!
Scene 40: Following Bobby's testimony, there is a break as Mike's defense lawyer comes into the hallway looking worried about the course of the trial, little of which we've actually seen. Mike's father confronts the defense attorney over why he wasn't able to break Bobby's testimony to reveal Mike's innocence. The lawyer vows to break Chet when he has him recalled to the witness stand.
Commentary: Again, this makes zero sense. There is no reason at all why any of them would think that Chet had anything to do with Mo's death, unless Bobby spilled what had happened already, and if that were so, then Chet wouldn't be on trial already. And, MIKE DID STAB MO! This entire sequence is playing like Mike did nothing wrong by going for that knife and turning it on the unfortunate, and not blameless, Mo and that they all apparently had some clairvoyant vision that Chet is really the guilty party....
I don't know if there was a lot cut out for length, or if this was really written this clumsy to push things along - but it is horrible plot development.
Scene 41: Now, after all of that talk about breaking Chet, you'd think we'd fade into his return to the stand at this point, but no. First, we have to receive testimony from Pat, who wasn't in the Shack at the time of Mo's stabbing. Pat reveals that Mike had told her that he was going to the Shack to talk to her brother.
Now, apparently, Chet and Bobby had told the police that Mike had come to the Shack to specifically fight Mo - which helps things make a bit more sense as far as the defense focusing on Chet's testimony.
Commentary: Imagine how all of this would have actually hung together logically if we had known that Chet didn't stick with a modified version of the truth, but instead made something up out of whole cloth. Why he would do this, when stating things that actually happened (leaving out the part where he pushed the blade further into Mo) would have gotten Mike convicted of manslaughter at the least, is another question. Greed, I guess... first degree murder equals the death penalty and I can see Chet wanting that and not being willing to "settle" for 10 years in prison for Mike. But all of this could have been explained so much better if we had edited the stupid party scenes with the repetitive shots of couples dancing, and the some of the more drippy dialog scenes earlier. Another re-write or two of the script was clearly needed.
So, anyway, back to Pat on the stand. It's all completely useless because Pat has no first hand knowledge of anything. She tries to convince the jury that Bobby may be lying to back up Chet (and I swear she wanted to say he'd lie for her brother because he's in love with him, but she doesn't). But the prosecutor is able to turn this back on her by pointing out she has a reason to lie as well, because she's engaged to the defendent. She complains that her words are being all twisted, but they're not, since the only thing she can testify to, is that she "knows" that Mike/Mickey wouldn't lie and that she "knows" that Bobby is either lying to protect her brother or is confused. She doesn't say why Chet would need to be protected, since again - MIKE PICKED UP A KNIFE AND MO WAS STABBED.
Scene 42: Mike is now on the stand, where he now insists that Mo's death was an accident. Mike claims that he grabbed the knife so that Mo wouldn't get it but that Mo jumped at him and impaled himself (which is basically true). The problem with Mike's story, is that Mo had been an ex-marine with extensive hand to hand combat training. The prosecutor makes it sound ridiculous that Mo could have ran himself into the knife because of his past combat training. Mike doesn't respond that it seems just as ridiculous that this highly trained combat specialist could have been so easily murdered by a high school student.
Mike is confronted with the fact that he ran out, leaving Mo lying on the floor. He claims panic. The prosecutor agrees he was scared, and submits he had good reason to be, leaving the implication that it was due to his deliberate murderous actions hanging for the jury to pick up on.
Scene 43: Mike's defense has now re-called Chet to rebut his previous testimony that Mike had targeted Mo deliberately. The lawyer is good at yelling, but doesn't get Chet to deviate from his story that Mike was sore at Mo and that he killed him.
Scene 44: A calendar flips four days, letting us know the jury has been deliberating. They return to their seats after a fade cut back. Mike is found guilty of first degree murder.
Scene 45: Later, the Detective is complaining to the D.A. that he doesn't believe that Mike is guilty as convicted. Despite the case being closed, he swears he's going to stay on it until he gets to the truth.
Commentary: Alas, he's a grating actor so I don't care about his quest for the truth... especially since Mike did jab Mo, and will probably end this story being completely exonerated, even though he shouldn't be. And, isn't this story supposed to be about Chet turning psycho? Why are we spending so much time with Mike and Pat and the Detective all of the sudden? This is supposed to be all about Chet, but the film's focus has suddenly shifted to Mike's travails and the effort to save him, instead of on Chet's continuing vengeance against those he holds responsible for Duke's execution, which he has apparently forgotten in order to focus all of his efforts on this elaborate plot against Mike.
Scene 46: Back at the Shack, Chet is smoking a cigarette and pacing. He suddenly becomes aware that the Detective has let himself in to wait for him to arrive. The detective notes that the Shack used to be upkept, but now it is looking like a sty. The Detective confronts Chet about his lying on the stand and warns him that from now on he'll be dogged everywhere he goes. The detective further admits that he's breaking the law, and that should scare Chet. He pushes him onto the table and gets up in his face - he warns him that he's going to regret it if Mike is put to death for something he didn't do.
Commentary: Now, as far as I can make out, no one is denying that Mike stabbed Mo and killed him. The only thing in dispute here is apparently the first degree murder rap.
Scene 47: Later, outside of the jail, the Detective meets Pat as she comes from her latest visit with Mike. He offers her a ride home, but tells her that he needs to stop by and talk to Chet for a few minutes. It is made clear that Pat has cut off all contact with her brother over his testimony against Mike. Pat agrees to accompany the Detective, but makes it clear she won't speak to Chet, or even see him.
Commentary: This story actually started out pretty well and my interest was at least held while we were following Chet's emotional breakdown and his seeking revenge against those who'd "wronged" his brother. But, by this point, I'm really bored. We're following the wrong people and Chet's tale of unjust vengeance has been co-opted by the "Mike has been wronged, and we must save him" arc, which doesn't even make sense for Chet's character. He suddenly went from jumping and beating people to this patient and methodical mastermind behind getting his nemesis' son framed and it has been a really clumsy change in character. Especially, since everytime he's on screen, Chet is still acting like he's barely restrained in his violence and rage... hardly someone who'd have the patience to wait and wait for a trial to work its way through the courts... especially when we've seen zero evidence that he's been stalking and therefore at least enjoying the emotional suffering of Mike's dad, who should be his real concern. This should be about Chet harassing Mike's dad, culminating in an attack on Mike, not about a complex (*cough cough*) web of lies to frame Mike for murder (especially since Mike is guilty of manslaughter, which seems to be completely discounted everytime it has been referenced). And, now, we're following around the crusading Detective, who should be a side player as an obstacle to Chet's plans, not as the character we're following around as he tries to save Mike.
Scene 48: At the jail, Mike's father and Mike have a visitation. We hear all about Mike's upcoming appeal. His father tells him he wished he'd kept his mouth shut at Duke Marco's trial now, but Mike tells him that Duke was guilty. He also needs his father to believe in his innocence.
Commentary: And again, yes Mike - you're innocent of deliberate murder, but no one ever says "but you stabbed a man" even though you'd think that it would come up that Mike isn't completely a victim here. And, again, we've spent too much time with these characters, following their plots when this story should have been focused on its central character, which is Chet... not Mike and his family.
Scene 49: We return to the shack, where Bobby sits despondant over his role in getting Mike convicted of a deliberate murder that was accidental. He's also been staring at Chet, which is driving our psycho over the edge. He is packing a bag.
Outside, the Detective and Pat have arrived. On the drive over, it appears that Pat has had a change of heart about talking to her brother. She asks the Detective to allow her to talk to him alone.
Scene 50: Chet and Bobby are startled by the knock on the door of the Shack. (I note Chet is back in jeans, and his ass is nice again.) Without waiting for an answer, Pat barges in. Pat has come to share that Mike has already forgiven Chet for his vicious lies. Apparently, while Mike was sitting in the jail cell he's had time to think on Chet's sudden blathering to his dead brother after Mike had ill-advisedly blabbed all about his dad getting Duke convicted. He's further told Pat (off screen, perhaps at the last visit between them) that he thinks Chet is mentally unbalanced. Pat tells Chet here that he needs a doctor, which her brother denies.
Pat tells her brother that she can't be as forgiving as doomed-Mike. She tells Chet that she'll hate him for as long as she lives, and that she's glad that he's twisted up inside.
Commentary: This is actually a strong scene, and Pat's wrath is pretty hateful in its own right to add some real spark here. In fact, I'd say that Pamela Lincoln is the strongest actor among the cast and she does a good job here with letting Pat be downright vicious in her assessment of her brother's hatefulness. I just wish that I wasn't wishing that this movie would hurry up and get finished.
As Pat next turns her attention on Bobby, telling him she feels sorry for him standing behind her brother the way he has and lying, the Detective sees Mike's father's car pull up. The elder Craig goes in to confront Chet next. Mr. Craig is there to promise Chet he's going to get the truth out of him, even if he has to kill him to do it. Chet tries to throw both he and Pat out, but Mike's dad punches him out and then tackles him.
For being an old guy, he manages to hand Chet his ass. In the meantime, Pat has run out to yell for the detective's help before Mr. Craig ends up following his son into prison. Poor, simple Bobby once again stands there like a statue as Chet is getting the crap beat out of him.
The Detective pulls Mike's dad off of Chet as he's strangling him, warning him off. Pat sees to her brother, her hatred of a few moments ago fled on seeing him so battered by an old man.
Commentary: We get to see Chet's treasure trail, which I'm so grateful for, because I'm really quite bored and the pacing on this film hasn't been a model of efficient storytelling, nor has it giving us a lot to look at or great drama to get involved in, so that lack of pace has been very noticeable.
Chet yells at Pat, the Detective, and Mike's dad to get out and leave him alone. (Hi, more of Chet's abdomen!) As they leave, poor, simple Bobby tries to comfort his friend and hero. Bobby is cracking under the strain of their big secret (no, not that one, the other one involving the made up lie about how Mo got stabbed) and begs a weirdly, suddenly dazed Chet to tell everyone the truth about Mike's not being a first degree murderer. He refuses to tell them himself, because he doesn't want to betray Chet.
Oh, poor, simple Bobby is hysterical and lying on dazed Chet's chest, burying his crying eyes on his shoulder. He continues to beg Chet to tell the truth.
Scene 51: Outside, at the detective's car, he's trying to assure Mr. Craig that Chet is going to break before his son gets sentenced to life in prison or death. It isn't Chet who comes out to them from the Shack though, but poor, simple Bobby. He tells the detective that Chet doesn't even know what he's doing anymore. The detective asks Bobby for the truth, and asks him if Chet killed Mo. Bobby, utterly forgetting his promise of less than three minutes ago admits that he did.
Commentary: Which, as we immediately realize, shouldn't have even been a question! What led the Detective to conclude that Chet murdered Mo, when Mike very honestly admitted he stabbed him (or well, that Mo fell onto the knife he was holding him off with) during that fight?! THERE IS NO REASON THAT ANYONE WOULD CONCLUDE THAT ANYONE OTHER THAN MIKE AND/OR MO WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEATH, GOD-DAMMIT!
Yes, I'm getting a little too pissed off with this potboiler for giving Mike a complete pass on his own actions which led to Mo lying on the floor with a knife in his guts. The movie consistently is insisting that Mike is completely blameless and a victim of psycho-Chet and THAT ISN'T TRUE. Mike still owns the blame for that initial stabbing, even if Mo may have survived with prompt attention, which by the way, Mike never provided! THAT TURD IS NOT INNOCENT, HERE!
Back to poor, simple Bobby and smug-faced detective, though. Chet has also suddenly broken though and comes rushing out of the Shack, ranting and raving about Mike having not done it. Chet runs off down the block, raving and very obviously as unhinged as Pat claimed earlier. She pleads with the Detective to bring him back so they can get him the help he needs.
Scene 52: Chet continues to run aimlessly, tripping a lot. As the Detective ambles casually after the running Chet, poor, simple Bobby is apologizing to Daddy Craig about his part in accusing Mike of first degree murder. Mike's dad is, of course, forgiving even though he should be roughing up poor, simple Bobby for being Chet's little bitch this whole time.
Scene 53: The Detective and Chet play cat and mouse. Chase, chase, chase....
Chet takes to a water tower, climbing and climbing while warning the Detective to not follow him. The Detective tries to get Chet to admit that he is sick and to come down, but Chet climbs and climbs and denies doing anything wrong.
The Detective warns Chet that he'll have to use his gun if he doesn't stop running, despite the fact that Chet isn't armed and is running up a water tower where he has no place else to go. There is a gunshot on the soundtrack, that I have a feeling was added in post because no one responds to the gun having gone off.
Chet starts to climb down the tower to return to the Detective, and sounds rather pathetic with his pleas that the Detective "better not hurt me, 'cause I didn't do anything wrong". The Detective continues to assure him that he won't hurt him, if he'll just cooperate (and admit to everything).
Chet collapses into the Detective's arms, crying on his shoulder and begging for help. The Detective leads a broken Chet back toward the Shack over the closing credits.
Commentary: Yeah, that was an abrupt turnaround for Chet, the revenge seeking psycho.
The Good: I thought that Pamela was pretty strong throughout, acting wise.
Ronnie Burns and Frank Killmond (Chet and poor, simple Bobby) were likewise strong during their respective breakdowns.
The Bad: The lack of focus on the central character became more and more problematic, with Pat, the Detective and Mike all taking the spotlight off of our psycho's story.
Some scenes have really stilted and awkward acting.
The fight coreography was pretty bad.
The pacing is ... leisurely... which is wrong for a film about a psycho seeking revenge.
The continual referring to Mike/Mickey by alternating names was getting on my nerves.
The courtroom procedural portion of the movie was pathetic and wasted screen time.
We never do get any sort of resolution to Mike's story... sure he isn't guilty of first degree murder, but that doesn't mean he should have been completed exonerated either, though that is what we could presume will happen. We also don't get any resolution to Chet's fate or Bobby's perjury.
Large portions of the middle section of the movie, not involving the vengeance seeking or Pat/Chet's interactions, were wasting time and film.
The completely ridiculous intuition of the Detective that Chet killed Mo, despite Mike's own testimony that he stabbed the guy with a large knife is utterly and totally bullshit.
Mike, for being the supposed hero of this piece, is a complete turd. He acts without any thought to other people's feelings, he blabs about his father's involvement in getting a man convicted of a capital crime, despite his father's obvious wishes, he brings home the sister of the man that was put to death based on his dad's testimony without warning him beforehand, he chooses the middle of a party to inform his girlfriend that his father was the one whose testimony led to her brother's execution, he denies any responsibility for grabbing a knife that led to a man lying on the floor with it in his gut, and then doesn't take any responsibility for not even getting any help there for him... the man is a douche and worst, the film's viewpoint continues to be that poor Mike is an innocent victim of that bad, sick man, Chet.
The Score: This film actually started off well enough, and the ending wasn't badly done at all but the pacing is a real problem. The movie feels much longer than it should have been. There was also very little tension generated for being a film promising an indepth look at a psycho. I would like to say this movie was much better, because there were certain scenes and character interactions that were quite good, but things quickly got dull and the Detective took up too much time, being smug and overacted the entire time. Much as I'd like to give this one a closer to average score, I have to give it a below average, 2.50 out of 5.