Saturday, 7 April 2012

Psycho Biddy

'Fanatic!' (known as 'Die! Die! My Darling' in the US) is a enjoyably overwrought and somewhat forgotten Hammer horror film about a young woman (Stefanie 'Hart to Hart' Powers) who, before she gets married, goes to pay her respects to the family of her previous fiancee, who apparently died in a car crash. In actual fact, he committed suicide after she jilted him and his crazy religious zealot mother (Tallulah Bankhead) has the worst kind of revenge in mind: enforced religious conversion, followed by murder and a heavenly reunion with a dead bloke she's already chucked once. Just in case the unhinged Bankhead isn't enough for you, she's ably assisted by Donald Sutherland as a lumbering halfwit and ruthless servants Peter Vaughan and Yootha Joyce as possibly the most sinister looking couple in world history.

The director by Silvio Narizzano, a Canadian director for hire who bounced between TV and film before briefly hitting it big with 'Georgy Girl'. A short sojourn in Hollywood followed, but he returned to Britain after his allegorical (and bloody awful) Western 'Blue'. Narizzano lends a light touch and a wry sense of humour, and it's a shame he didn't direct more 'Island' style films (his version of Joe Orton's 'Loot' is probably the nearest but, alas, that's not very good either).

A small amount of research led me to something I hadn't previously been aware of, the horror micro genre of 'Psycho Biddy'. Psycho Biddy films are characterised by having an ageing, past their sell by date female star (or two) and having them go absolutely mental (think 'Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?', 'Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte', etc.). As a thing it makes perfect sense, of course, and I'm very glad to have made its acquaintance. Another PB film tomorrow.

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