For Reel

Two on a Guillotine (1965)
August 10, 2015, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William Conrad
3 Stars
Two on a GuillotineWilliam Castle found enormous success in the horror genre in the 1950s and 60s with a series of low budget shockers that dependably made a great profit for both Columbia and Universal Pictures. Two on a Guillotine was the first of a trio of thriller films directed by actor William Conrad for Warner Brothers, and it’s a picture that was made to capitalize on the success of Castle’s ethos–the tagline on the poster starts with a call, “Attention: Guillotine-agers!” Unlike Castle’s more ludicrous productions, however, Two on a Guillotine does have a great deal of polish and seems just as interested in following the success of The Haunting as it is in mimicking a low budget fright film. It does a decent job of navigating these contrasting wishes–the gimmick of a mansion filled with numerous pranks occasionally turns the atmospheric setting into a playhouse. The suspense gets slightly more intense in the latter half, however, and Virginia Gregg is quite effective in a small part as a hysterical woman who loved the believed-dead John Duquesne (Cesar Romero). Conrad contributes some compelling, eery images (such as a bizarre sequence in which a distraught Connie Stevens is framed by the strings on a harp), but he has an unfortunate tendency to back away from the most suspenseful moments in favor of a playful tone that undermines any prolonged sense of dread.

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