THE PSYCHO LOVER (1970) – The Dungeon Review!
“I’m like the proverbial bloodhound. I can smell him in this room and the hairs on my ass stand on end every time I catch his scent.” -Lieutenant Morlock
Before embarking on this Stepping into Something Weird project I had thoroughly perused the Something Weird website and read the synopsis for almost every film they have and watched clips and or trailers if they were available. I made a list of top priorities; these were the films that I was particularly excited to check out. Although The Psycho Lover was in my top three in my zip queue, the DVD service sends what is available first and The Psycho Lover was getting skipped over week after week. Besides the Herschell Gordon Lewis films I had not seen a lot of straight up horror titles from the Something Weird catalog and I was starting to feel anxious as the feature was coming to its end. The Psycho Lover which was on a DVD double feature with Heat of Madness finally arrived a few days ago and it was better than I could have possibly anticipated! I can not wait to check out more of the films of Robert Vincent O’Neill! Unfortunately O’Neill only has one other film on the Something Weird label called Wonder Women which I will be watching in the next week. Hold on! Watching in the next week? But Goregirl, won’t Stepping Into Something Weird be over next week? I am having far too much fun and have not covered nearly everything I wanted to so I am extending Stepping into Something Weird through January! No more of this posting everyday business though! I will be back to posting five days a week. Now back to The Psycho Lover; one of my favourite new horror film discoveries of the year!
Before the credits start we get our first beautifully executed murder sequence. For more images from this scene click here. Beautiful, creepy, intense; the perfect start to any horror film.
The Psycho Lover aka The Loving Touch directed by Robert Vincent O’Neill (Blood Mania, Wonder Women, Angel).
After we witness the violent death of a woman we are taken to a serene lake where a motorboat is being driven by a handsome middle-aged man. We learn immediately through a bitter conversation between he and his wife Valerie that the man is Dr. Kenneth Alden; a psychiatrist with a mistress named Stacy. Dr. Alden is clearly a man of prestige and wealth with his home on the lake, motorboat and that crazy car! By the way, does anyone know what kind of car that is? Dr. Alden receives a call from a Lieutenant Morlock. Alden’s assistance is required on a case involving a young man named Marco Everson who has vivid dreams of killing women that match the facts in some actual crimes.
Dr. Alden speaks to Marco who relays to him his most recent dream. The woman was an artist who he kills in the shower and rapes after she is dead.
“When I woke up I was laughing. Yeah laughing. The first time she ever had a man, I mean a real man and she couldn’t feel it.”
In my books you absolutely can not beat a killer who wears a stocking over his head; so effectively ugly and disturbing the way it distorts the facial features!
Dr. Alden with his 25-year-old mistress Stacy; they have a very lengthy scene with the two of them being romantic and lovey. It is well-filmed like every scene in The Psycho Lover but I found it a little gag-inducing. When all was said and done I could see how it was a necessary evil that needed to be included. It still could have been a little shorter though.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Dr. Kenneth Alden and his wife Valerie. Valerie is a bitter woman with a drinking problem. Valerie was still in love with Kenneth when he started his affair. Valerie refuses to give Kenneth the divorce he desires.
“Do you get some perverse sense of enjoyment out of this relationship?” -Kenneth
“Yes. That is exactly the answer.” -Valerie
Marco follows a woman carrying groceries home. He kills her under the glowing light of the fluorescent signs outside the victim’s window. Another absolutely stunning looking murder sequence.
Another romantic love scene between Kenneth and his young mistress; this one was a more reasonable length.
Marco is now under the care of Dr. Alden on a full-time basis. Marco relays the story of one of the women found dead who we do not see being killed. The woman is found on her coffee table with a ketchup bottle inserted into her vagina. There is little doubt that Marco is the killer. He has definitive psychopathic symptoms, he hates women and he has spoken about facts in the case that only the killer would know. There is however no physical proof.
“I saw her blood turn to water. I was all wet, and she was too. And then she died.” -Marco
“What about the ketchup bottle Marco?” -Dr. Alden
Lieutenant Morlock meets with Dr. Alden and his mistress Stacy to discuss the case over some lunch. Note ketchup bottle on table.
In a film full of esthetically pleasing scenes this one was the best of the best. Marco has a dream sequence that is a stunning mind fuck. What an imaginative, surreal and sinister portrait of a man’s psychotic mental state!
Marco makes a call to the home of Dr. Alden to inform him of what the voice in his head has asked him to do. Valerie answers the unsettling phone call.
I am going to leave the rest of the story for you to discover on your own. The Psycho Lover insinuates early, or at least mid-film of the potential finale for its story. There are however many variations on how this finale might go down. Knowing what could happen does not soften the impact at all. The cast were well-chosen. Lawrence Montaigne looks the part of the respected psychiatrist Dr. Kenneth Alden and has a confidence bordering on arrogant that suits the role well. Despite having a speed boat, a sports car and a young mistress he is a rather uptight and overly serious guy. Jo Anne Meredith looks like a woman who goes to the beauty salon regularly and has an elegance about her but at the same time a touch of tackiness. Her character is a lush but Meredith plays it in a proper “keeping up appearances” fashion that sees her stewed and mildly vulgar but never falling on her face drunk. Lieutenant Morlock is a bit of a goofy character; he is the film’s comic relief. John Vincent as Morlock gets some pretty amusing lines including the quote at the top of this review. Elizabeth Plumb as Stacy is a sweet, likable, bubbly gal; although a touch too sweet and bordering on air-headed. It is easy enough to see why the anal retentive Kenneth would fall for her though. Frank Cuva is excellent as Marco Everson. The Marco character has the perfect balance of everything that makes a good horror film antagonist. He is reasonably intelligent and unassuming in appearance and when unprovoked is your next door neighbor who seems like a decent enough guy. Needless to say, he can not always hide the anxiety and threat bubbling just below the surface waiting to boil over. When Marco goes into killing mode he is cruel, brutal, relentless and frenzied to the extent that he literally foams at the mouth. A well drawn character and a spot on performance. The Psycho Lover is an extremely well made horror film. The Psycho Lover has intense well-executed murder sequences, an excellent story, strong performances and it is one of the most visually stimulating and pleasing horror films I have had the pleasure of watching during this feature; or in recent memory for that matter. When I stumble upon a horror film as solid as The Psycho Lover I get all giddy with excitement. There is no doubt about it, this would have gotten the number one spot on my top ten for 1970 hands down had I seen it when I completed that feature. Although I did have a minor complaint about an overly long love scene this film was far too outstanding overall to give it anything less than perfect marks. The Psycho Lover gets my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.
For more images from The Psycho Lover click here.
Dungeon Rating: 5/5
Directed By: Robert Vincent O’Neill
Starring: Lawrence Montaigne, Jo Anne Meredith, Elizabeth Plumb, Frank Cuva, John Vincent, Sharon Cook, Diane Jones, Luanne Roberts, David Astor, Lynn Lyon, Judy Lang, Charles Victor