Terrified (1963)

Article 2021 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-26-2006
Posting Date: 2-23-2007
Directed by Lew Landers
Featuring Rod Lauren, Steve Drexel, Tracy Olsen

A variety of people are being terrorized by a masked killer in a ghost town. All the people have something in common; they have close ties with a young woman.

This low-budget fright flick, the last movie by veteran director Lew Landers, has a mixed reputation; some people have fond memories of being scared by the movie, while others find it cheap and unconvincing. Me, I find both sides evenly matched on this one, as I feel both ways about it. There are times where the characters show a surprising degree of intelligence (I love the moment where one potential victim figures out that the murderer is purposefully trying to lure him away from the cemetery, and resolves to go there at once to find out why), but I think the movie is least successful when it’s trying to be frightening. The killer’s cat-and-mouse game with his victim (where he places him in peril, then allows him to escape only to capture him again) is pretty clever in theory, but it’s so badly marred by his harping on how scared his victim should be that it undercuts the effectiveness of the ruse; personally, I think it would have been a lot better if the killer didn’t say a word during his acts of terror. The identity of the killer is painfully obvious; I knew who it was ten minutes into the movie, but the movie actually works itself up to an effective ending once the unmasking occurs and we get some insight into why he’s doing what he’s doing. In short, this is one very mixed bag, but it has its moments, I think is worth catching for these alone.



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