• Drive In Collection: Anatomy Of A Psycho/The Lonely Sex



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 9, 2013.
    Director: Boris Petroff/Richard Hilliard
    Cast: Ronnie Burns, Pamela Lincoln, Darrell Howe/ Mary Gonzalez, Karl Light, Jean Evans
    Year: 1961/1959
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    The Movie:

    Another drive-in double feature from upstart label Vinegar Syndrome, this time teaming a pair of moldy oldy black and white oddities. Let’s take a look…

    Anatomy Of A Psycho (1961):

    Directed by Boris Petroff, Anatomy Of A Psycho tells the tale of a troubled young man named Chet Marco (Darrell Howe) who just hasn’t been the same since his older brother Duke was to be executed. After he picks up Duke’s final belongings from the prison, he gets into a scrap with a gang after one member pushes him for info on what it was like inside. Chet lands himself a doozy of a scar and heads home to complain to his pretty sister, Pat (Pamela Lincoln). Sadly for Chet, Pat doesn’t offer much sympathy and tells him that Duke more or less got what he deserved.

    Pat’s also dating this guy named Mickey (Ronnie Burns) who just so happens to be the only son of the key witness responsible for sending Duke to his death. While Pat and Mickey are hanging out and getting engaged, Chet starts chilling at a shack owned by a former Marine named Moe (Don Devlin). The shack is also a hangout for a rather simple guy named Bobbie (Frank Killmond) who inexplicably considers Chet his best friend in the whole wide world. When Chet hears of Duke’s execution on the radio, he freaks out and threatens to ‘kill them all’ and from there he and his pals start causing all sorts of trouble, much to the dismay of a cop named Mac (Michael Granger). Chet and his pals kick the snot out of the District Attorney’s kid, Chet harasses his one-time girlfriend Sondra (Judy Howard) after she dumps him, and Pat makes a nice impression on Mickey’s dad. Eventually though, Chet sets a fire and basically snaps before he and Mickey get into it. But let’s not ruin how all of this ends for those not lucky enough to see this one yet.

    Made fast and cheap, this movie is more than a little rough around the edges but it remains completely watchable and frequently quite interesting. The sets are cheap and sometimes trashy looking and some obvious optical work stands out like a sore thumb but all of this adds to the movie’s low budget charm. The boom mic appears throughout the movie and the scene early in the film where Chet brawls with the gang showcases some painfully obvious staging backdrops but when you’ve got Darrell Howe running around with his eyes bugging out of his head and yelling at everybody, who cares! Howe steals the show, particularly in the last half of the film where he’s running around looking like greaser version of Frank Gorshin by way of Desi Arnaz. He puts his cigarettes out on classy Victorian era artwork, he throws over tables when he gets mad, he talks simpletons into committing perjury and he doesn’t take any crap from any no good cop who might want to get in his way! Let there be no doubt about it, Chet rules.

    The rest of the cast are only so-so in their parts, though Pamela Lincoln is occasionally fun with some of her ridiculously melodramatic line deliveries. A weird scene where Pat and Mickey meet Chet at a fancy dance party sees couples swirling around poolside with a mountain range in the back – it’s just bizarre. The courtroom scenes are a bit drawn out but probably necessary to keep the plot coherent enough, so we can let those pass. The big finish though, it’s great. When it’s all said and done, there’s a lot to like about this low budget cheapie and it’s a shame that Howe didn’t take more roles like this (it seems like this was his only feature, though he did do some TV work from the late fifties through to the mid-sixties).

    The Lonely Sex (1959):

    The second feature on the disc was directed by Richard Hilliard and it begins with a scene where a Mr. Wyler (Carl Collyer) spies through the window of a blonde as she undresses. From there, the movie stars an actor named Karl Light as an unnamed man who, seemingly by chance, wanders through the woods and spies a woman named Annabelle Greene (Jean Evans). He obviously digs her right off the bat, but the fact that she’s seen horsing around with her boyfriend means that she’s taken. Sorry pal! In a weird coincidence, however, our lead finds a picture of lovely Annabelle in the dirt and after he picks it up and takes it home with him to his cozy wooden shack, he pins it on his wall and the radio starts playing wedding music!

    Let’s cut back to Mr. Wyler for a bit though – it turns out he’s a friend of Annabelle’s father and that he boards with them. That’s not going to stop him from hitting on her though, which involves him telling her that he enjoyed seeing her in a bathing suit at the beach the other day and then telling her how he almost walked in on her while she was in the bath. While this is going on, our lead is getting drunk in a bar and talking to the rough looking barmaid about how he lost his virginity – then he goes home, listens to a preacher on the radio and draws in lipstick over his own face in the mirror. Soon Wyler gets a little more brash with Annabelle, her boyfriend begrudging the fact that she has to room next to ‘the fat guy’ but seemingly not too irate that the old pervert finally did walk in on her while changing.

    Evidently inspired by the sermon he took in, when we next see Light he’s zipping about town getting all pervy over store mannequins before stalking some unfortunate woman. When she laughs at him for giving her a flower, he responds by strangling her and then running off to a church only to find the doors locked. When he runs into Annabelle later, he takes her back to his awesome shack… and it all goes downhill for him from there.

    Hilliard’s debut feature is a quick and dirty fifty-seven minute film that’s actually really pretty cool. We get some teasing nudity in the opening scene and some sleazy atmosphere throughout – particularly when we head inside the shack that our unnamed lead character calls home. Karl Light is great in the lead, turning in a pretty bizarre and unhinged performance complimented by greaseball Carl Collyer as the film’s peeping tom character. We can see the early stages of some of the surrealist touches he’d later apply in I, Marquis de Sade taking shape here and it’s interesting to note that this particular film predates both Peeping Tom and Psycho, two films it does share some themes with, even if it doesn’t offer up the same level of psychological depth as either of those pictures.

    Some effective voice over narration helps keep the plot moving quickly and the movie is rather well shot, making good use of some claustrophobic interiors and using shadows well in the scenes that take place in the woods and in the city. This is quite well done – it’s lean, efficient, interesting and definitely worth tracking down.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Anatomy Of A Psycho has been a staple of bargain bins around the world thanks to its public domain status, but all of those presentations of the movie sucked. Vinegar Syndrome’s film sourced transfer was done in high definition presents the movie on DVD in its original 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio and looking much better than it ever has before. Yes, there’s still some print damage and scratches here and there and a second or two where some crazy heavy black marks pop up and obscure most of the image, but contrast looks excellent and detail is very impressive for a standard definition release. Greys, blacks and white all look very nice and quite crisp and there are no issues with compression artifacts.

    The Lonely Sex doesn’t fare quite as well but it’s still a nice presentation. This is a gritty, grimy little bitch of a movie and seeing it in less than perfect condition somehow adds to the experience. The elements used for the transfer seem to have been fairly well preserved and once again we get some nice contrast. A few shots look softer than others but overall, yeah, this’ll do. It looks pretty nice.

    Both movies get the English language Dolby Digital Mono treatment, there are no alternate language options, closed captions or subtitles provided. Clarity is fine for both movies, for the most part. There’s a bit of hiss here and there and maybe the occasional pop but the levels are properly balanced and there are no serious issues here. The movie sounds fine given their age and obscurity.

    Aside from a static menu offering chapter selection, there are no extras on this release.

    The Final Word:

    These two fit together well, a double feature where the two movies paired together actually compliment one another nicely. Anatomy Of A Psycho holds up well thanks to Darrell Howe’s nutty performance while The Lonely Sex is an interesting oddity from Hilliard now released for the masses to enjoy – both films in nicer shape than they’ve been available in previously.