Sunday, January 5, 2014

TERRIFIED (1963)



Directed by Lew Landers
Written by Richard Bernstein
Starring Rod Lauren, Steve Drexel, Tracy Olsen, Stephen Roberts and Denver Pyle

The movie opens with a long shot of a small, old west town, then it dissolves to a graveyard and then a man walks over a grave where a man is lying in a grave tied up. The bad guy is wearing a suit and tie and a mask that gives him a Diabolik feel. He starts to fill the grave with cement and the young man in the grave snaps. In black and white, this scene is super creepy and if I had seen it as a kid I'm sure it would have scarred me for life. As it is now it still does a good job of the creeps.
Cinematographer Curt Fetters spent his life shooting TV with this being his only film. I think he wanted to pull out all the stops and make this something worth watching.
It is.
After the opening scene we get an older couple that is almost run off the road by a crazy man. They pull into a little bar where the owner, Wesley Blake (Stephen Roberts, an actor with over a hundred credits under his belt.) offers them a drink to calm their nerves. It's there that we get the love triangle of Marge (Tracy Olsen of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME), Cool guy Ken (Rod Lauren, of THE CRAWLING HAND fame ) who wants Marge for his own and David (Steve Drexel, who got more to do in SWAMP GIRL), who is moody and in college and writing a paper on people surviving terror.
Marge decides she wants to go out to the abandoned old west town to talk to the town drunk. Ken doesn't miss a beat and offers to take her to talk to him. David is not in the mood as the guy at the beginning of the film was a friend of his and he is now in an asylum.
When they get there they find the old drunk dead, gruesomely impaled on the graveyard fence. David shows up and the man in the mask is back to torment and torture him. After escaping from multiple death traps David discovers he must see if his mind can stand being...TERRIFIED! (Yeah, that was cheesy, but it made me laugh.)
I'm not going to reveal the man in the mask as it would ruin the film for people who may have not found this little black and white gem.
There is some genuinely good acting in this little potboiler and some that I can't mention because it would ruin the ending. If you watch it just remember some of the final lines of the masked man after he is unmasked. A couple of them are just heartbreaking.
One of those movies that when it ends and the good guys win and the bad guys die you find yourself a little sad because of it.


1 comment:

Sölömön G said...

I did see this as a kid, and yep - traumatized, but in the best possible way ;)

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