A seemingly mentally unstable admirer (Jack Watson, The Wild Geese and The Sea Wolves) stalks a famous ice skater (Lynne Frederick, Nicholas and Alexandra and Voyage of the Damned) on the eve of her wedding day.
Reaction & Thoughts:
In America, films like The Last House on the Left, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were the best exponents of a newfound freedom in the horror genre. The success of these films did not go unnoticed in Europe, as filmmakers like Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Pete Walker started developing similar kinds of projects. Filmmakers no longer had to worry about showing too much gore and/or sex — the gates opened wide. Schizo is a British production that certainly falls into this category.
Although director Pete Walker (The Comeback and House of Long Shadows), a filmmaker I tend to like, actually tries to invest the story with psychological twists and turns, the film cannot escape its exploitative attitude. Unfortunately, Schizo fails in creating an interesting story, but the film does show signs of what the “slasher” genre would offer in years to follow.
Schizo is not a very good film, even within the low-budget horror film category. Some of the film’s murder set-pieces are well-staged by Walker, but this is clearly not one of the director’s best efforts.
As I said before, Schizo does anticipate the now all too familiar plot device of the psychotic madman killing the members of the cast one by one, with the innocent female left to confront the killer during the last reel — the same story elements were used in many subsequent, more successful films like Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), Prom Night (1980), and My Bloody Valentine (1981).
Walker is clearly a Hitchcock aficionado. Schizo has a great number elements of Hitchcock’s Psycho (the title seems to pay homage to Hitch’s masterpiece), including its twisty ending. BTW, the killer doesn’t suffer from schizophrenia as the title suggests; I’m no expert but it looks more like dissociative identity disorder (DID). Schizo also borrows ideas from another Hitchcock movie, the 1964 thriller Marnie.
Jack Watson’s creepy performance made the movie. Lynne Frederick, who is now better known as actor Peter Sellers’s (The Pink Panther) widow, is fine as the heroine, but Watson is the thing you will remember after the movie is over. He does a great job as the “madman-on-the-loose.”
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Schizo probably scared audiences forty years ago, but by today’s standards it looks unfocused and disjointed — the film’s violent set-pieces are not well-integrated into the storyline. Schizo remains a very weak film, stretching its story to almost two hours, while other films of the same nature tell the same story in a compacted 90-minute length. This is a movie that will really only appeal to “slasher” completists — other viewers may want to stay away from this title. Anyhow, House of Whipcord (1974) Frightmare (1974) and The Comeback (1978) are better examples of director Walker’s talents. Color, 110 minutes, Rate R.