The 1960s had a good run of thriller films that found there way into the horror market of the video craze of the 90s. The problem was a lot of these films were obscure so finding them often resulted in trading VHS copies. When DVD hit a lot of these older films began to see the light of day. One of the more obscure yet popular ones was Strait-Jacket starting Joan Crawford.
Crawford plays Lucy Harbin. A woman who after 20 years is getting released from the Looney-bin for having murdered her husband and his mistress with an ax. Yes she cut off two people heads but got 20yrs in a crazy house as opposed to the Death Penalty. When she gets out she goes to stay with her brother and his wife and her now adult daughter Carol. Carol seems a bit off but she actually watched her mom decapitate her dad when she was 3yrs old.
Carol appears to hold no grudge and actually spends a lot of time with her mom. She even tells her mom to dress and act the way she did before the murders. Her mom figures what the hell. She looks pretty good to be honest. So good she actually trys to seduce Carol's boyfriend. Nice lady.
Well after that falls through a series of murders all involving an ax begins. First it's Lucy's shrink, then a few random others that actually have ties to Lucy. Is she back to her crazy ax murdering ways or is there a copy-cat murderer out there?
It's a pretty basic plot used quiet heavily back in the 60s and 70s. There is the usual twist ending which you will probably figure out pretty quick into the movie. What sets this one apart is the performance of Joan Crawford. She can play crazy, loving, and even sympathetic with out batting an eye. You actually believe everything you watch her do. Her performance was even praised by all the critics who disliked the film when it came out.
Strait-Jacket is actually a pretty well regarded film amongst horror fans. Considering shlock murder films we're a dime a dozen back then that is saying something. Over the years it developed quiet the cult following and it did get a bare bone DVD release that looked like a step above a VHS transfer.
All of that has changed now that Scream Factory has aquired the rights. A beautiful transfer brings this film to life again. It looks as though it was made only yesterday even though it's in black and white. The audio is fantastic as well. And as this is Scream Factory they even managed to load it up with special features
Violent for it's time, a great performance by Crawford and a gorgeous transfer make this a must own for any horror collector. Go ahead and pick this one up.
Overall 3 out of 5 Stars