Saturday, October 9, 2010

STRAIT-JACKET - Van Alexander - "Lucy Harbin Took An Axe..." (1964)

Well, by the fate of the magpies, it's a Bloch to Bloch weekend, because just like last night's "Asylum," tonight's feature was also penned by Robert Bloch! It's called "Strait-Jacket,"and it is a pretty straight ahead, and down to earth scary flick, perfectly suited to this time of year!

Produced and directed by Dungeon All-Star, William Castle, "Strait-Jacket" jumps right out of the box and doesn't stop until the ride is over, and again, it's William Castle, so it's not just your average Rollie Coaster! This sumbitch has broken tracks, and hairpin curves aplenty!

Yep, believe it or don't, it's Lee "The Six Million Dollar Man" Majors in his first on screen appearance as bad boy Frank Harbin, the husband of a much older woman, whose wife is out of town! On the other hand, Stella Fulton, was played by Patricia Crest in what would amount to be her last role ever, maybe what's about to happen got to her!

Frank takes Stella back to his house, and makes passionate drunken monkey love to her with the bedroom door open, just knowing his little girl Carol is fast asleep!

It just so happens that Frank's wife Lucy Harbin got home earlier than was originally anticipated or planned! That first step sets the scene!!

Lucy Harbin was portrayed by the obsessively amazing Joan Crawford, who it is said, personally answered all her own fan mail, but obviously, by looking at this shot, not the kind of gal you want to go out on!! "Strait-Jacket" was sandwiched like a piece of head cheese in between "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" and "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte." Joan was on a roll!!

You get the idea! If this movie seems a bit pseudo psycho to you, it might be because master horror author Robert Bloch, among his other achievements was also responsible for writing that very famous novel, "PSYCHO!"

After 20 years in The Nuthouse, Lucy Harbin is free to roam again. Welcome Home, Mother! Lucy Harbin's grown daughter was played by Diane Baker, who is still working today!

Carving meat in front of a reformed axe murderess is just downright mean!!

I thought it was probably William Castle trying to make an extra buck, but in reality, Joan Crawford was the one who insisted upon the Pepsi product placement! Joan was the widow to a Mr. Alfred Steele, who just happened to be the CEO of the Pepsi Corporation, and Joan was on the board of directors!

Look Mom, I saved these annoying jangly bracelets you love to wear so much, that you can hear rattling around for the whole rest of the movie!

Carol has decided to take her Mom to town to get a makeover, and it looks like The Harbins have the only Fiat in town! I know how that feels, my folks used to have an Opel when everybody else was driving Buicks and Oldsmobiles!

With one of them new style wigs, and a new outfit, here she is, the new old Lucy Harbin!!! Joan Crawford actually started her entertainment career as a dancer before running off to California to seek fame and fortune as an actress!

Mom is doing pretty good, really, considering the circumstances, and Carol is feeling pretty smitten with herself!!

But all is still not well, especially when the night mares and stallions start to stampede through your brain!

The killer music for "Strait-Jacket" was composed by Van Alexander!! Later in his career, Van seemed to have a penchant for composing for TV shows about chicks, including "The Donna Reed Show," "The Farmer's Daughter," "Hazel," "Bewitched," and "I Dream Of Jeannie!"

Lucy gets kind of mean spirited when she drinks, maybe you should have left well enough alone, Carol!! What the Hell were you thinking, anyway??

Ever since Lucy was released there have been a series of brutal killings, imagine that!! This particular one included a man for all time, World War II vet George Kennedy, as the handyman Leo Krause!! George is still active and has work in production right now!

"Did somebody fart?"

William Castle paid attention to every detail, and always came up with some kind of stunt, so no matter what, his movies would always be something you would remember, and it worked!!!! "Strait-Jacket" was released on DVD as a double feature with another Castle chiller classic "Homicidal" and is also available on Netflix! What a deal!!


RODAN! said...


Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood said...

I LOVE THIS MOVIE!! I just watched it two weeks ago on Netflix, and it became one of my top 10s for sure. Crawford was so good and the story line was fabulous as well as the cinematography. The creepy art really adds to it!

Tom said...

Great review. I hope you don't mind I passed it along to William Castle, who is back and posting to his own website from Beyond the Grave.

Actually. Strait Jacket and Homicidal will be shown this Saturday night(10/16/10) at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles!

William Castle said...

I had a great time reading your post. It made me remember all the fun I had when I was alive!!!

You managed to show all the great stills from the movie, tell a bit about the picture and still not give anything a way.

That's great. I wish you would post this on my website.
Let me know if you would like to.

Greg Goodsell said...

My favorite behind-the-scenes story about STRAIT JACKET is how Joan Crawford would keep the set fifty degrees at all times to keep her makeup from melting. And I'll try ot make the screenings at the Silent Movie Theater this weekend.

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