February 18th, 2011: Strait-Jacket (1964)

Cast and Crew:  Robert Bloch (Writer)

What It’s About: Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) murders her second husband (Lee Majors) and his lover with an axe.  She returns home from the asylum twenty years later to live with her brother Bill Cutler (Leif Erickson) and her daughter Carol (Diane Baker).  Carol pushes Lucy to meet with people and re-join society, and Lucy begins having nightmares.  Complicating matters are Carol’s fiancé Raymond (Howard St. John), his protective parents, the Cutler’s creepy farm hand (George Kennedy), and Lucy’s doctor (Mitchell Cox) who disappears after checking up on Lucy.  Is Lucy going crazy and murdering again? Or is something else afoot?

Why Watch it Today?: George Kennedy, who is great as the Cutler’s creepy farm hand, was born today in 1925.  Kennedy is still acting, and over the course of a long career he’s played everything from killers, outlaws, lawmen, pilots, cops, forest rangers and more, in westerns, comedies, horror and action films.

Director/Producer William Castle specialized in gimmicky thrillers aimed squarely at what was then horror’s main audience:  matinée attending kids.  His twists are easy to see coming, and his films almost always have their tongue planted firmly in cheek, and Strait-Jacket is no exception.  Castle’s main gimmick here is casting Crawford as the lead, and Crawford gives it her all, making for a wonderfully entertaining slice of camp.

Where to Get It:  Netflix (Rental) or Amazon.com

The Trailer:

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