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Grip of the Strangler
The Haunted Strangler

UK 1958
produced by
John Croydon, Richard Gordon (executive) for Amalgamated Productions
directed by Robert Day
starring Boris Karloff, Jean Kent, Elizabeth Allan, Anthony Dawson, Vera Day, Tim Turner, Diane Aubrey, Max Brimmell, Leslie Perrins, Jessica Cairns, Dorothy Gordon, Desmond Roberts, Roy Russell, Derek Birch, Peggy Ann Clifford, John Fabian, Joan Elvin, Michael Atkinson, George Hirste, Yvonne Buckingham, John G. Haller, Arthur Mullard, George Spence, Jeremy Young, Robert Day
screenplay by John Croydon (as John C.Cooper), Jan Read, based on the story Stranglehold by Jan Read, music by Buxton Orr, special effects by Les Bowie

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Mild mannered author James Rankin (Boris Karloff) tries to re-evaluate the case of the Haymarket Strangler for his next book, 20 years after the obvious culprit was tried and hanged for it. Only, Rankin believes they have convicted the wrong man (Michael Atkinson), and that the actual killer was none other than the coroner who examined the Haymarket Strangler's victims. Thing is, the coroner seems to have disappeared after the alleged Strangler's execution, and of all things, his scalpel has disappeared with him.

Stubbornly, Rankin tracks down the coroner's last known whereabouts to an insane asylum, and figures the only place his scalpel can be is in the (wrongly accused) Haymarket Strangler's coffin - and totally taken up by his quest, he bribes his way into unearthing that coffin, where he really does find the scalpel ... but once the scalpel is in his hands, he almost immediately turns into a disfigured (!) killer and starts killing showgirls as a pastime.

It's not long before Rankin - who without the scalpel in his hand is the kindest of men - notices there's something wrong with him, which is when his wife (Elizabeth Allan) tells him he himself is actually the man he is looking for ... and being a good citizen, Rankin gives himself up to the police thereafter - but the cops don't believe a word of what he's saying and only lock him up after he attacks an officer and almost injures him. Still, in his cell, Rankin becomes his murderous persona again and makes an escape in no time, making many a killing along his way ... until he attacks his own daughter (Diane Aubrey), and when he does, the spell of the scalpel seems to be broken and he refrains from killing her - which is when the police has caught up with him though, and he is pretty much shot on sight, but with his dying breath, he asks for the murderous scalpel to be destroyed ...


Grip of the Strangler is an ok horror film, nothing more. Its premise, digging deep into psychoanalysis and the subconscious, might sound intrigueing, but its execution, with Karloff's disfigured face, is rather childish, and somehow one has the feeling the film never manages to live up to its promise. Still, taken as just another old-fashioned shocker with not too much of a meaning to it, the film fares ok enough to make up for an entertaining 75 minutes.


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




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD