SCHIZO (1976) Reviews and overview

 

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‘When the left hand doesn’t know who the right hand is killing!!’

Schizo is a 1976 British slasher horror film produced and directed by Pete Walker (House of the Long Shadows; The Comeback; House of Mortal Sin; Frightmare) from a screenplay written by David McGillivray (Terror; Satan’s Slave; House of Whipcord).

The movie stars Lynne Frederick (Phase IV; Vampire Circus; No Blade of Grass), John Leyton, Stephanie Beacham (Dracula A.D. 1972; House of Mortal Sin; The Nightcomers), John Fraser (The Gorgon) and Jack Watson (From Beyond the Grave; Tower of Evil; Peeping Tom).

Even at the time of its release, Schizo garnered a negative reputation for portraying mental illness in an unsubtle and unsympathetic manner and a pre-credits disclaimer was added to deflect criticism. The British pre-cert release also suffered over a minute’s worth of cuts. However, the current US Redemption Blu-ray is fully uncut.

Plot:

A little girl watches helplessly as she is the sole witness to her mother’s murder.

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Years later, that little girl has grown into the beautiful skating star Samantha Gray (Lynne Frederick). However, after her wedding announcement is published in the local newspaper, a man who becomes more and more obsessed with her begins turning up everywhere she goes.

Samantha’s fear mounts as one by one her friends are murdered, and she becomes convinced that the stalker is no stranger…

Reviews:

” …this film fits in to a post-Psycho and giallo yet pre-slasher world. It’s also definitely British. And it’s one of many films where exposure to sex as a young age makes you a killer. I’m not giving away anything but if you don’t figure out the ending twist within the first few minutes unless you have never watched a horror film before.” B&S About Movies

Pete Walker’s inherent technical capabilities are in full force. The film’s major twist appears predictable at first, then gets thrown on its rump with yet another twist and a brilliant ending. All the while, Walker anchors the film in class. The clever transitions and camera movements, excellent acting, and plot work together towards one goal: building tension.” Bleeding Skull!

” …pop-psychological suspense wins out, and even if the climactic reveal elicits a well, obviously instead of a gasp, Schizo is still one of the better British Psycho knockoffs—stylish, decently acted by all involved, and well shot. In case you were wondering, there is a shower scene, and the lovely Lynne Frederick shows significantly more of herself than Janet Leigh.” Blu-ray.com

Schizo is quite unfairly maligned, in my view. It may be stupid, but it’s classic Pete Walker fare all the same. So what if it’s a whodunnit where you already know whodunnit? I’m not convinced I would have done if I’d watched it without knowing the plot beforehand […] Do yourself a favour, and give Schizo a try.” British Horror Films

“Tautly structured by regular Walker pen man David McGillivray and boasting some nifty camerawork by Peter Jessop (whose credits include the TV showpieces Piece of Cake and G.B.H.), Schizo delivers a lot more than its tacky, shatter-font title suggests. It’s as sound an introduction to the cinema of Pete Walker as you’ll find and a rather smart little thriller that deserves rediscovery.” CineOutsider

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“Graphic British psychothriller with a top-notch cast, good direction by Pete Walker and a mildly intriguing script by David McGillivray. It’s a bloody thing though…” John Stanley, Creature Features

“The obligatory red herrings abound here, but there isn’t much that comes as a surprise. With slightly overlong runtime, the film gets a little mired down in predictability by the final act, and by then the supposed shocker ending has been hinted at loud and clear. Lynne Frederick does the tormented woman act well enough…” Digitally Obsessed

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Schizo is not nearly as suspenseful as Hitchcock’s work – although it’s not devoid of tension either – but the real selling point is its visceral nature. Reminiscent of the Italian giallo films of the same era, the death scenes are equally nasty and stylish (and there’s even an eyeball spear). While Schizo may not be Walker’s best work, it’s worth watching, particularly in glorious high definition.” HNN

“The sense of a tatty fake séance having suddenly stepped over into something real is a genuine jolt. At other times, Walker’s jumps are crude – the mimicking of the Psycho shower scene is poorly conducted, as is the scene with deep breathing down the phone. Walker throws in some scenes of almost Argento-esque sadism…” Moria

“Yes, it has some interesting stuff going on with solid performances, some gruesome kills, and some of the trademark elements from the giallo scene. Unfortunately, there are some pacing issues, the storyline is uneven, and it is actually somewhat predictable. In the end, there was some potential to be better, but it is still an entertaining journey into the world of the 1970s giallo influenced thriller.” The Ringmaster’s Realm

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“Highly effective stabbings mix with nice touches of the Italian giallo – notice the loving fetishization of bladed weaponry. Frederick does terror really well and Stephanie Beacham is also on hand as Samantha’s best friend for some nice additional eye candy for the male viewers.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“Often flabby about their midsections, Walker’s films tend to shamble a bit […] On the other hand, Walker demonstrates an eye for striking visuals and his films benefit considerably from the jagged energy he brings to them. Aided by regular cinematographer Peter Jessop, Walker contrives some impressive in-depth compositions, a good bit of handheld camerawork, and even some sinuous tracking shots.” Slant

” …there are no surprises, despite the energetic efforts of the script, which eventually turns silly, more concerned with effect than logic. I don’t want to give anything away, but when we find out what really happened all those years ago, it wouldn’t have been that difficult to intervene at the time, would it? Still, if Schizo had been more sober, it might have been a trifle dull.” The Spinning Image

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Screenwriter David McGillivray and Lynne Frederick at the seance

“There’s […] some solid acting by the principals, which is in turn capped by a terrifically overwrought climax-revelation. None of it proves to be genre-bending, but it’s worthwhile enjoyment and boasts Walker‘s trademark signature of grime and gore.” The Terror Trap

” …things collapse disastrously in the second half. Caught between sending itself up and taking itself seriously, the film ends closer to the silliness of Francis Durbridge than to the menace of Alfred Hitchcock.” Time Out London

“Subtler than Walker’s previous films, Schizo serves as an interesting example of the slow gathering of elements that would be cemented by Carpenter and Cunningham shortly after, even if it’s a slightly crass Hitchcock imitation in isolation and a reminder of how vile British wallpaper patterns were in the 1970s.” Vegan Voorhees

“What the movie lacks in originality it makes up for in cleverly crafted camerawork and a cunning use of sound. The music score builds, the camera tightens, and then – silence. We’re somewhere else entirely, left exhausted from aborted intensity. The screenplay tries to fool us with a twist ending that has only become cliché, but succeeds in capturing scenes of near-agonizing discomfort as each character is considered as a culprit in turn…” The Video Basement

Walker has a habit of allowing scenes to play out as long as possible. The first half of the film is an excruciating bore. Here, he needlessly draws things out and it takes a good hour before the first murder even occurs.  I mean the movie runs an agonizing 109 minutes.  Walker could’ve easily trimmed about twenty minutes out of the first act and no one would’ve noticed.” The Video Vacuum

Schizo Quad

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Cast and characters:

Lynne Frederick … Samantha Gray
John Leyton … Alan Falconer
Stephanie Beacham … Beth
John Fraser … Leonard Hawthorne
Jack Watson … William Haskin
Queenie Watts … Mrs Wallace
Trisha Mortimer … Joy
John McEnery … Stephens [uncredited]
Paul Alexander … Peter McAllister
Robert Mill … Maitre
Diana King … Mrs Falconer
Colin Jeavons … Commissioner
Victor Winding … Sergent
Raymond Bowers … Manager
Pearl Hackney … Lady at Seance
Terry Duggan … Editor
Lindsay Campbell … Falconer
Wendy Gilmore … Samantha’s Mother
Primi Townsend … Secretary
Victoria Allum … Samantha as Child
David McGillivray … Nervous man at Seance

Filming locations:

Elizabeth Court, London, SW1
King’s Cross Railway Station, London, England
Old Hampstead Town Hall, Haverstock Hill, London, NW3, England
Swing Bridge, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England
Wimpole Street, London, W1

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