Homicidal (1961)

87 mins | Horror | 28 June 1961

Director:

William Castle

Writer:

Robb White

Producer:

William Castle

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Editor:

Edwin Bryant

Production Designer:

Cary Odell

Production Company:

William Castle Productions
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HISTORY

Homicidal was announced as filmmaker William Castle’s next project in a 25 Aug 1960 DV news brief. Although a 14 Sep 1960 DV item noted that the title had been changed from The Haunted, the 25 Aug 1960 DV indicated that The Haunted was a separate project. Castle’s most recent picture, 13 Ghosts (1960, see entry) was said to have cost $500,000, which the budget for Homicidal was expected to exceed.
       A 4 Nov 1960 DV production chart stated that principal photography began 1 Nov 1960. Location filming took place in Ventura and Solvang, CA, according to the 27 Oct 1960 and 4 Nov 1960 issues of DV.
       Castle promised a gimmick to coincide with the theatrical release, as stated in a 6 Apr 1961 NYT article. The “B-movie” filmmaker had previously arranged for skeletons to fly over audiences at first-run screenings of The House on Haunted Hill (1958, see entry), and for theater seats to vibrate at showings of The Tingler (1959, see entry). For Homicidal, the gimmick turned out to be a sixty-second “fright break” five minutes before the film’s end, in which moviegoers were offered the chance to leave the theater and get full refunds if they were too scared to watch the conclusion. The 15 Jun 1961 DV noted that the gimmick backfired when some audience members connived to sit through two showings, asking for their money back at the second fright break. Henceforth, the picture’s “money back coupons” were numbered to avoid such fraud. ...

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Homicidal was announced as filmmaker William Castle’s next project in a 25 Aug 1960 DV news brief. Although a 14 Sep 1960 DV item noted that the title had been changed from The Haunted, the 25 Aug 1960 DV indicated that The Haunted was a separate project. Castle’s most recent picture, 13 Ghosts (1960, see entry) was said to have cost $500,000, which the budget for Homicidal was expected to exceed.
       A 4 Nov 1960 DV production chart stated that principal photography began 1 Nov 1960. Location filming took place in Ventura and Solvang, CA, according to the 27 Oct 1960 and 4 Nov 1960 issues of DV.
       Castle promised a gimmick to coincide with the theatrical release, as stated in a 6 Apr 1961 NYT article. The “B-movie” filmmaker had previously arranged for skeletons to fly over audiences at first-run screenings of The House on Haunted Hill (1958, see entry), and for theater seats to vibrate at showings of The Tingler (1959, see entry). For Homicidal, the gimmick turned out to be a sixty-second “fright break” five minutes before the film’s end, in which moviegoers were offered the chance to leave the theater and get full refunds if they were too scared to watch the conclusion. The 15 Jun 1961 DV noted that the gimmick backfired when some audience members connived to sit through two showings, asking for their money back at the second fright break. Henceforth, the picture’s “money back coupons” were numbered to avoid such fraud. The 3 Aug 1961 DV stated that the gimmick was “working ‘great’” according to Castle, who said theaters were taking in an average of $20,000 weekly, and only paying out $100 in refunds.
       Actress Joan Marshall, who played both a female and a male in the dual role of “Emily/Warren,” was credited under the pseudonym “Jean Arless.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1960
pp. 1-2
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1960
p. 2
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1960
p. 8
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1960
p. 6
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1960
p. 8
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1961
p. 1, 4
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1961
p. 3
Daily Variety
3 Aug 1961
p. 4
Los Angeles Times
24 Jun 1961
Section B, p. 3
Los Angeles Times
1 Jul 1961
p. 10
New York Times
6 Apr 1961
p. 28
New York Times
27 Jul 1961
p. 23
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Haunted
Release Date:
28 June 1961
Premiere Information:
Minneapolis opening: 7 Jun 1961; Los Angeles opening: 28 Jun 1961; New York opening: 26 Jul 1961
Production Date:
began 1 or 4 Nov 1960
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
William Castle Productions
1 June 1961
LP20542
Duration(in mins):
87
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

As children, Miriam Webster and her half brother, Warren, had been cared for by Helga, a kindly nurse. The old woman is now mute and paralyzed and lives in a gloomy old mansion with a companion, Emily, Warren's alleged wife. Though Helga is threatened with murder by Emily, a homicidal maniac who has already killed the local justice of the peace, she is unable to communicate her deathly fear. Miriam and her fiance, Karl, become suspicious of Emily's strange behavior and discuss the situation with Warren. Karl decides to go to the police, and Miriam and Warren return to the old mansion, which Warren enters alone. When he fails to come out, Miriam goes in and discovers the murdered body of Helga. As she backs away in terror, she is suddenly confronted by Emily wielding a knife. Miriam watches in horror as Emily tears off her wig, thus establishing Warren and Emily as one and the same. As "Emily" raises her knife to stab Miriam, Dr. Jonas arrives unexpectedly at the house, and in the ensuing scuffle the psychotic killer is shot and killed by Miriam. Later it is revealed that following a trip to Denmark, Warren had taken on the psychopathic personality of Emily but had been forced to maintain his masculine identity in order to protect his inheritance. Both the justice of the peace and Helga were slain to keep them from exposing Warren's ...

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As children, Miriam Webster and her half brother, Warren, had been cared for by Helga, a kindly nurse. The old woman is now mute and paralyzed and lives in a gloomy old mansion with a companion, Emily, Warren's alleged wife. Though Helga is threatened with murder by Emily, a homicidal maniac who has already killed the local justice of the peace, she is unable to communicate her deathly fear. Miriam and her fiance, Karl, become suspicious of Emily's strange behavior and discuss the situation with Warren. Karl decides to go to the police, and Miriam and Warren return to the old mansion, which Warren enters alone. When he fails to come out, Miriam goes in and discovers the murdered body of Helga. As she backs away in terror, she is suddenly confronted by Emily wielding a knife. Miriam watches in horror as Emily tears off her wig, thus establishing Warren and Emily as one and the same. As "Emily" raises her knife to stab Miriam, Dr. Jonas arrives unexpectedly at the house, and in the ensuing scuffle the psychotic killer is shot and killed by Miriam. Later it is revealed that following a trip to Denmark, Warren had taken on the psychopathic personality of Emily but had been forced to maintain his masculine identity in order to protect his inheritance. Both the justice of the peace and Helga were slain to keep them from exposing Warren's secret.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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