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The Face at the Window

UK 1939
produced by
Julius Hagen for George King Productions/Pennant Pictures
directed by George King
starring Tod Slaughter, John Warwick, Aubrey Mallalieu, Marjorie Taylor, Robert Adair, Wallace Everrett, Leonard Henry, Kay Lewis, Bill Shine, Margaret Yarde, Harry Terry
written by Ronald Fayre, A.R.Rawlinson, based on the book by Brooke Warren, music by Jack Beaver

review by
Dale Pierce

... for a second opinion by Mike Haberfelner, Click Here !

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Ever see a movie that is so bad it is good or takes itself so seriously when there is no reason to do so, it just sort of grows on you? That, to me, is Face At The Window, an older flick which leaves a lot to be desired, yet somehow, like a car crash, you just can't take your eyes off of it.

A serial killer is stalking Paris, known as The Wolf. Victims see this werewolf-like face in the window, hear a wolf howl and get stabbed from behind. Clearly, two people are working as a tag team here and indeed, in the end, we find out they are.

The performance of Tod Slaughter as the smirking villain, Lucio del Gardo, is the lone saving grace of this film. Like Bradford Dillman, Gordon Currie, John Saxon and others who have specialized in saving bad scripts, Slaughter is so over-the-top in this, he makes the movie worth watching again and again. Long after his death, this actor remains an icon on the web and in certain books about the horror realm, with a strange cult following among die-hard afficionados of the genre.

In the movie, you have the good guy trying to chase after and catch Gardo, only to be thwarted several times, until a final, somewhat silly ploy which causes the villain to admit his guilt. Supposedly, a new scientific experiment shoots electricity into a dead body, enabling it to write out its last response as a previously-living being and identify the killer. Del Gardo sees this, panics, and admits his guilt, along with a mutant brother who provides the face at the window, while he does the killings.

There is no real animated corpse squealing on the murderer. It's a living man, hiding under a tarp, with just his arm exposed, hoping to get the killer to admit his guilt, which he does. The confession comes, both brothers are done in and all is right with the world.

 

review © by Dale Pierce

... and a second opinion by Mike Haberfelner ...

 

Paris 1880: A serialkiller dubbed The Wolf is haunting the city, and his latest victim is the cashier of the bank the Wolf is subsequently emptying. Suspicion falls on the only other man in the building, Lucien (John Warwick), but since he has been with the bank for many years, his father was a friend of the bank's owner de Brisson (Aubrey Mallalieu), and he's romantically linked to the owner's daughter Cecile (Marjorie Taylor), suspicion is quickly dropped. Enter Chevalier del Gardo (Tod Slaughter), who wants to set up business relations with de Brisson and has his eyes set on Cecile ... and for him, Lucien is nothing but competition that needs to be eliminated. Above that, he is also the Wolf - and so he plants part of the loot on Lucien and arranges for de Brisson to find it, trusting the man will quickly hand Lucien over to the police - which de Brisson doesn't because of the loyalty Lucien and his father have always shown him. When del Gardo urges him to go to the police with his findings, de Brisson notices the loot found on Lucien was in an envelope carrying the seal of the Chevalier. Unfortunately though, the Chevalier grows wise to de Brisson's suspicion and murders him - and he sees to it that the suspicion once again falls on Lucien.

Even though Lucien is on the run from the police, he challenges the Chevalier to a duel, which the Chevalier wins by heavy cheating, and he has Lucien's tied up body thrown into the Seine to die, but Lucien is saved, and in disguise, he visits the whorehouse del Gardo is frequenting and also keeping Cecile whom he has abducted. The police track down Lucien to the whorehouse, but he manages to not only give them the slip but also free Cecile, even if it means to burn down the whole place.

Lucien still has one chance to prove his innocence: A machine his mad scientist friend LeBlanc (Wallace Evennett) has developed that will reanimate the dead for a few seconds, and if de Brisson is reanimated, Lucien figures he might name his murderer. Lucien sends Cecile to teh police to invite inspector Gouffert (Robert Adair) and del Gardo to a reanimation experiment this evening, but the Chevalier figures it might be a good idea to kill the professor before that, just to make sure, which would put an end to Lucien's plans ... and it nearly does, but then Lucien uses - or rather pretends to use - the professor's apparatus on the dead professor, and this way, he tricks del Gardo into unmasking himself. The Chevalier gets away, but can be tracked down to his secret hideout, where he keeps his malformed brother (Harry Terry), the other part of the Wolf-tagteam, locked away in a cage. He tries to kill him for no apparent reason, but ultimately they both die falling into the Seine.

 

A weird and not totally conclusive murder mystery with strong horror undercurrents, this is not a film to be taken seriously, but it's fun to watch exactly for its many narrative inconsistencies and its amazing number of pulp mainstays, coupled with a wonderful over-the-top performance by Tod Slaughter. Of course, it was made on the cheap, and it's directorial effort alternates between bland and stagey, but even that doesn't detract from the film's fun-factor.

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD