Blu-ray Review: STRAIT-JACKET

STRAIT-JACKET was produced and directed by William Castle from a screenplay by Robert Bloch and stars Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson, Rochelle Hudson, Mitchell Cox, George Kennedy and Lee Majors.

Crawford plays Lucy Harbin, a woman who goes berserk when she finds her husband in bed with another woman. With her three-year-old daughter accidentally witnessing the grisly act, Lucy axes the couple to death. She spends twenty years in a mental institution for the double murder. After she is released, she moves in with her brother, Bill (Leif Erickson), his wife, Emily (Rochelle Hudson) and Carol (Diane Baker), her own daughter who is now twenty-three. Her nightmare is over … or is it? When a spate of ax murders start occurring suddenly in the neighborhood, police think Lucy has reverted to her old ways. The truth is finally revealed in a rousing, blood-chilling finale.

This 1964 chiller follows Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford), a convicted axe-murderess who is released from an insane asylum 20 years after slaughtering her unfaithful husband with an axe where she reunites with her daughter Carol (Diane Baker) who witnessed the traumatizing event. The reunion is a bit awkward at first but the two quickly warm up to each other and things look like they’re going to go really plus Lucy gets makeover but it ends up being something that’s more harmful than helpful to the struggling mother.

What happens is, all of a sudden certain things start to trigger Lucy’s unstable side and it doesn’t take long for heads to begin to roll again – literally. Poor Lucy is showing all the signs that she’s gone off her rocker once again and history is repeating itself but as the movie plays out a shocking twist is introduced that ultimately reveals that maybe Carol’s mentally unstable mother isn’t as crazy as everybody thinks she is.

The front of the packaging features the classic artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features its own individual artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for the high-definition disc were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio for this release.

Bottom line is, William Castle was a fantastic storyteller back during his time and he delivered some really entertaining horror classics like Strait-Jacket which ended up being another first time watch for me. The movie is character driven with Joan Crawford who puts on one heck of a show as this unbalanced mother who desperately wants to make a new beginning with her daughter. Even though Crawford had a bad reputation for being so difficult or demanding to work with, she always gave it her all when it came to her roles and this one right here is proof. This movie didn’t have as many theatrical tricks and gags in it like some of Castle’s others (like The Tingler) but instead relies more on the great performances and that’s all it needs to make it such a captivating psycho-thriller. Something else Strait-Jacket features is some impressive cinematography that’s amplified beautifully in black & white. There’s also a few shocking decapitations that look pretty good on screen considering the age of the movie. Strait-Jacket will make its Blu-ray debut on August 21st.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1) B&W

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special Features: Good Stuff! The extras include two new interviews, new audio commentary and some bonus content that has been imported over from previous home video releases. Scream Factory never lets us down when it comes to gathering up some nice special features, even with 50+ year old movies like this.

  • NEW Joan Had Me Fired – an interview with actress Anne Helm (06:47)
  • NEW On the Road with Joan Crawford – an interview with publicist Richard Kahn (06:35)
  • NEW Audio Commentary with authors/film historians Steve Haberman and David J. Schow and film historian Constantine Nasr
  • Battle-Ax: The Making of Strait-Jacket (14:40)
  • Joan Crawford Costume and Make Up Tests (03:29)
  • Ax Swinging Screen Test (00:38)
  • Theatrical Trailers (02:38)
  • Still Gallery (02:17)


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