Blake Edwards’ Experiment in Terror

February 18, 2013 | By | Add a Comment


Is anyone getting shades of Bava from those dismembered mannequins?


 Today is Family Day, the Ontario-wide holiday where unfortunately some parents must work – i.e., those not part of a provincial or bank institution – and must find alternative means to manage the kids that Premier Dad wanted you to spend time with… which kind of makes the entire holiday as a fully democratic concept a bit of a dud. Maybe the next Premier can fix things up and spread the leisure time to all edges of society instead of bureaucrats.

One of the activities which helped take my mind of this cold bug (winding down, but technically, it’s now Day Eight) this past weekend was watching Experiment in Terror, Blake Edwards’ underrated and perhaps forgotten mini-masterpiece newly released on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, starring Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, and Ross Martin.

I first caught the film on Buffalo’s Channel 29 years ago (long before the transmitter-challenged indie became a Fox affiliate), and always remembered one scene that was truly creepy: the film’s serial blackmailer (Martin) confronting his victim (Remick) in the washroom, and Henry Mancini’s ugly bass chord – a motif the composer used with great effectiveness in telling audiences when things were going to get nasty.

For 1962, Experiment is hardly graphic, but it’s sufficiently unsettling for what’s implied, especially the blackmailer’s violent past, and the ever-present potential to brutalize his victims in the top three tiers: physically, emotionally, and sexually. It’s a pretty risky film, yet according to film historian Julie Kirgo, Experiment was somewhat forgotten due to the power of another ’62 classic, rival shocker Cape Fear.

I can’t help feeling a little sad that Edwards spent so much time directing increasingly tiresome derivations of his farcical template instead of regularly alternating between comedy and something new, be it drama, horror, suspense, westerns, and maybe sci-fi.

I’ll always argue Edwards wasted a chunk of his energies on door-slamming montages instead of character pieces, because he was a strong director with a notable experimental streak. The scene transitions within High Time [M] certainly illustrate his ability to transcend fairly generic material, but when left alone and given carte blanche after the series of box office hits during the sixties – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Party (1968) – he chose the bloated Darling Lili (1970). He did take a poke at the western – The Wild Rovers (1971) – and the espionage romancer –The Tamarind Seed (1974) – but with the exception of his masterpiece Victor Victoria (1982), and maybe the small bittersweet drama That’s Life! (1986), most of what followed were banalities, if not a waste of his talent.

So starting from that point, we jump to a rather lengthy review of Experiment in Terror [M], which sports an isolated score track of Henry Mancini’s great score. I’ve also uploaded a mobile version of Ransom! [M] the 1956 Glenn Ford kidnapping drama that Needs To Be On Blu-ray.

Happy Family Day.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

Tags: , , , ,


Leave a Reply