Wednesday, June 27, 2012


From 2010: TWO ON A GUILLOTINE is a film that I've waited years to see. Thanks to The Warner Archive Collection, it's now possible to own this rare and unusual film from 1965. Directed by actor William Conrad (CANNON, JAKE & THE FATMAN) from a quasi-Grand Guignol script by Henry Slesar (THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE EDGE OF NIGHT).
The film opens with a wonderfully demented scene involving magician John Duquesne (played by the late, over-the-top closeted gay actor Cesar Romero) performing a ghastly trick involving his wife Melinda and a very sharp object.
After the prologue, we find out that poor Melinda has gone missing. We also learn that the new library has been dedicated and "casual labor" rules have been clarified by an official. Thank heavens!

Flash forward a bunch of years and Duquesne has suddenly died. His estranged daughter Cassie (played by Debbie Reynolds lookalike and future John McCain supporter Connie Stevens) shows up at this funeral, and later attends the read of his will-at the Hollywood Bowl.
Cassie must spend seven nights in her father's mansion in order to inherit his estate. A reporter named Val Henderson (played by future Disney star, Jesus freak and gay marriage opponent Dean Jones) takes an interest in her, but we are not sure if his aim is true because he doesn't let on that he's with the press.
Things get off to a spooky start when Cassie flips a light switch and something surprising happens. Here's a spoiler-free hint: the lights don't turn on.
Turns out dad was quite the prankster and the mansion is full of mildly spooky gags that would make any rational person giggle.
But Cassie can't take a joke, and any time she encounters one of her father's scare tactics, she calls on Val to save her. So Val begins to spend the nights with her in the house-in his own room.
When a belligerent new housekeeper shows up and insinuates that the two are a couple, they get all defensive.
After Hazel quits, Val takes Cassie out for a few thrills and we get to see a really cool mid-60s amusement park. They ride a roller coaster, explore a house of mirrors and ride the coolest hanging orb thing.
See - I told you it was cool.
Then Val takes her to a nightclub, where three cool chicks dance in a giant cage. Is that Mink Stole in the middle?
What follows next is the most amazing and sexy scene in which Val just stares at Cassie.
And Cassie stares back at Val. I think David Lynch must have seen this as a young man and decided to become a filmmaker.
Then they kiss. And kiss. And kiss.
A two-sided pillow that they won at the amusement park, flips over to the "GO" side.
Oh did I mention, that there's a white rabbit living in the house that apparently nobody feeds or cleans up after?
Daddy's old housekeeper Dolly pays a visit. She's been drinking and she lets it all out - revealing the truth about Mr. Duquesne, his poor wife and other terrible secrets! When it's revealed that Val is a reporter, Cassie boots him out.
Oops - you weren't supposed to see that!
Poor Cassie, looks like she's not gonna last all seven nights...
especially when her nightmares become more and more ghoulish.
Oh, hi dad!
 Hey - wait a minute, I'm not supposed to be in here!!!
So Cassie wakes up and takes a stroll around the mansion, entering a locked room where dad kept his infamous guillotine. Nicole Kidman in this movie? No, it's just Cassie getting startled by something else.
Silly rabbit.
Meanwhile, Val gets the rest of the story from Dolly. I'm not telling, but is that a hint of incest in the air?
Oh no - how did Cassie end up in this predicament?
Um, that looks kinda sharp. I sure hope somebody doesn't back into the lever....
I'm not giving it away. But, happily the rabbit does not die.
I love this movie. 10 outa 10. Sure, it's been called "a dull, silly, tedious clinker" and "an old-fashioned, haunted-house spooker" - but give me this over a CGI-induced 3D movie based on a video game any day of the week. But that's just me, and I'm glad. Be sure to read the Dell comic book adaptation.
On a side, note how about we adopt "The Right to Love" as a pro-gay marriage anthem? Take that, Dean Jones.

1 comment:

Pax Romano said...

Can not wait to see this one - thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! I owe you!