What’s The Story? Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) came home from a work trip one night to catch her husband (an uncredited Lee Majors!) in bed with another woman. Clad in a flowery dress, a helmet hairdo and a some sharp heels, Lucy went over the edge. She killed both her hubby and his mistress with an axe, all as her 3 year old daughter Carol watched. Well, take a look.
She went into an asylum for 20 years. She gets released and visits a now-grown Carol (Diane Baker) in rural California, who's been living with Lucy’s brother on his farm. As Lucy tries to get settled into life outside the hospital, things start going awry. Is she still crazy? Why are people going missing? Is that big huge obvious twist that you see coming going to actually come to pass? [SPOILER: Yes, yes it is.]
Coming after her return to box office glory in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Joan takes another stab (sorry) at horror based on a book from the guy that wrote Psycho. She took over for Joan Blondell who had to back out of the film due to an injury. Then Joan brought in her The Best of Everything co-star Baker to play her daughter. Joan took a lower salary and 15% of the profit… which proved to be a shrewd move as the film was a hit. She also did some personal appearances for it as well, which helped goose the box office.
Oh, and how’s Joan? By this stage of her career, Joan’s an old pro in the best sense of the term. She can deliver a lot by doing a little (and sometimes does little by doing a lot). She brings a lot of depth to a pretty thin role. You get Lucy’s unease as she’s back out of the asylum, the weird spell she gets under as she dons her old murderous outfit and her shame when she’s trying to reconnect with her daughter. There are moments of brilliance from her (like when she’s trying to calm down after a nightmare”) and moments of absolute BS presentational acting (like when she’s reacting the little girls doing the nursery rhyme outside of the wig shop). She’s the main attraction here, acting her guts out and bringing some class and oomph to the proceedings. The supporting ensemble is good, except for Diane Baker. I don’t buy anything that she’s doing. And Joan being Joan, there’s some Pepsi product placement in one key scene.
Should You See It? Sure! It’s a fun but thin horror movie. The movie is beneath her at this point, but she’s having fun. Don’t expect much and you will be happy.
How Can I See It? It’s available for rental from iTunes and Amazon Prime. Give it a whirl!