Schizoid – USA, 1980

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MURDERSchizoid is a 1980 horror whodunit feature film produced by Yoram Globus, and Menahem Golan for their Cannon Group. It was written and directed by David Paulsen (Savage Weekend).

The movie stars Klaus KinskiMarianna Hill (Messiah of Evil), Craig Wasson (Ghost StoryA Nightmare on Elm Street 3), Donna Wilkes (Jaws 2, Grotesque), Joe Regalbuto (Invitation to Hell), Flo Gerrish (Don’t Answer the Phone!), Richard Herd and Christopher Lloyd (The Addams Family).

Plot:

Julie (Marianna Hill) is an advice columnist for the city newspaper who begins to receive anonymous notes threatening murder and worse. At about the same time, female members of the group therapy session she attends are being stabbed, one by one, by an unknown assailant. Is there a connection? If so, why do the notes talk about murder with a gun, while the murder victims are being stabbed?

At first, the police, her ex-husband, her therapist and her friends all assure her that the notes are probably unrelated, and hoax; but with time, it becomes apparent that someone close to her is responsible. Is it her therapist, Pieter (Klaus Kinski), who takes advantage of his patients just before they are murdered? Or Pieter’s daughter (Donna Wilkes), who resents Julie for Julie’s romantic involvement with Pieter? Is it Julie’s ex-husband (Craig Wasson), who never really wanted their divorce? Or maybe Gilbert (Christopher Lloyd), the eccentric building maintenance man?

Reviews:

” …you’ll guess the slayer if you follow this simple, time worn formula: (familiar actor) + (limited screen time) = killer. Hell you’ll probably get there without it, but that’s never stopped anyone from enjoying a little murderous mayhem. The cast are all onboard; Hill is a resilient heroine, Wasson is solid, Lloyd is terrific, and surprise, surprise, Kinski is considerably subdued to fit in on the other actors’ wavelength.” Scott Drebit, Daily Dead

” … Schizoid makes a good-faith effort to function as a murder mystery; it focuses the story primarily on adult characters; it makes at least a ritualistic bow in the direction of having some sort of official interest in solving the crimes. It also takes most of its stylistic cues from earlier Italian thrillers, right down to the fetishisation of the killer’s black leather gloves. And like a great many gialli, it is both intermittently effective and intermittently hilarious.” 1000 Misspent Hours… and Counting

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“The film has a couple of decent scares, though it’s a fairly squirm inducing outing most of the time. There’s one patent rip off of the infamous Psycho shower scene, this time transported to a hut tub, replete with Bernard Herrmann-esque sul ponticello strings (lovingly aped by an eighties’ era synthesizer). And while Schizoid tips its hand just a bit too early for its own good (at least with regard to some of what’s going on), the film at least does something a little creative with its denouement… ” Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-ray.com

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Schizoid has quite a few things going for it: a twisty turny plot, some nice American giallo-esque stylings, some Craig Wasson goodness, and of course, the incomparable Klaus Kinski.” Ain’t It Cool News

“Unfortunately, the affair is handled so clumsily that the various characters might as well have “Suspect” or “Victim” superimposed above their heads, along with a percentage value of the odds.” Aaron Christensen, Horror 101

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“Despite some less than stellar acting, the movie is a delightful reminder of why the ‘80s were the best decade for horror movies. It is equal parts gore, mystery and melodrama. Not only that, but it manages to create an intriguing mystery that will keep you guessing until the killer is revealed.” Anthony Benedetto, Retro Slashers

” … there’s little doubt that Paulsen was well-versed in gialli—it just so happens that his familiarity didn’t quite help him make a particularly great one. Schizoid is quite functional and proceeds along with just enough intrigue to remain interesting, though I’m not exaggerating too terribly when I say it’s mostly driven by Kinski’s creepy on-screen relationship with his daughter …” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

“Kinski’s scenes with his disturbed teenage daughter or those where he prowls relentlessly through the house have a visual and dramatic resonance quite absent from the rest of the film…” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

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Cast and characters:

  • Klaus Kinski … Pieter Fales
  • Donna Wilkes … Alison Fales
  • Marianna Hill … Julie
  • Craig Wasson … Doug
  • Richard Herd … Donahue
  • Joe Regalbuto … Jake
  • Christopher Lloyd … Gilbert
  • Flo Lawrence … Pat (as Flo Gerrish)
  • Kiva Lawrence … Rosemary
  • Claude Duvernoy … Françoise
  • Cindy Donlan … Sally
  • Jon Greene … Archie
  • David Assael … Barney
  • Richard Balin … Freddy
  • Fredric Cook … Willy

Trivia:

This film should not be confused with Lucio Fulci’s A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971), which was released in the USA as Schizoid.

The working title was Murder by Mail

Image credits: Horror 101

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