White Weddings and Red Herrings – Rediscovering ‘Schizo’ (UK 1976 – 109 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - September 26, 2014
White Weddings and Red Herrings – Rediscovering ‘Schizo’ (UK 1976 – 109 mins)

I’ve always enjoyed Pete Walker’s Seventies horror movies, they’re so very British and often wonderfully entertaining. Although this is not his best movie, (that honour goes to ‘Frightmare’), ‘Schizo’ remains my guilty pleasure in the entire Walker canon.

Following the wedding announcement of famed ice-skater Samantha Grey (Lynne Frederick), a figure from her past begins stalking her. This man; William Haskin (Jack Watson) apparently murdered Samantha’s mother during a heated argument when she was a young girl. Samantha fears that, now he has been released from prison, Haskin now wants to do the same to her. The only problem is that nobody else believes her, even when people close to Samantha start being murdered.

Lynne Frederick often gets criticized for her performance here, but I think she’s pretty good (although, as a huge fan of hers, I’m biased of course), and shows the right emotions as the frightened newlywed. Former singer and ‘The Great Escape’ co-star John Leyton looks occasionally bored as Frederick’s new husband, although Stephanie Beacham is good as Samantha’s loyal friend Beth. John Fraser, as Beacham’s psychiatrist boyfriend, probably wished he’d never signed up for this picture, (he makes no mention of it in his autobiography), and looks as though he’d rather be elsewhere. Character actor Jack Watson is his usual, reliable self as the troubled William Haskin, and Queenie watts is fun as Samantha’s séance-loving cleaner Mrs Wallace.

Although it’s nearly an hour before the first murder takes place, when they finally do they are rather well executed and imaginatively shot. These murders were considered fairly graphic (including a death by mallet, a knitting needle through the back of the head, and a throat-slicing), and most were severely cut at the time. The flashback scene showing the murder of Samantha’s mother was very graphic and caused the most trouble with the censors, as well as the most cuts on later video releases.

Often unfairly maligned, this London based Pete Walker entry is never ranked as highly as his earlier work, such as ‘Frightmare’ or ‘House of Whipcord’ ( both ’74), and is indeed not as great as these two cult classics, but this is the one that I always enjoy coming back to. With its dodgy fashions, obvious red-herrings and the obligatory shower scene, ‘Schizo’ is a fun Seventies slasher and, while it has its fair share of grisly moments, the most frightening thing in the entire film are John Leyton’s shirts!

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