- Reaction score
- Trophy Points
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 116 minutes
Type: Horror, Thriller
First time I watched 'Frenzy' I thought it was a bit tasteless in places (when Alfred Hitchcock's films were usually class acts), quite unpleasant in others and tonally all over the place. This time I still thought those things but to a lesser degree and I downright loved some of it. Viewed as a horror-thriller with some misjudged comedy elements it doesn't work but viewed as a full black-comedy with some off-putting diversions into genuinely disturbing horror, it's a more successful proposition. This tipping point can be seen right away with the opening scene where a politician is giving a grand speech on the bank of the Thames promising to clean up the polluted river, only to be interrupted by a corpse washing up. It's a hilariously twisted joke but it's stifled by the lingering shots of a fully naked strangled woman bobbing up and down in the muddy water. When you think that fellow British director John Boorman was making 'Deliverance' in the same year, a film that still feels totally modern, 'Frenzy' feels terribly dated. So the overkill of violence was perhaps Hitchcock's misguided attempt to stay relevant, when he should have stuck to his guns and kept it classy. The real Hitchcock artistic touch can be seen in the places where he choses not to show things, staying out on the street so you count down the seconds for the scream as a body is discovered inside, or panning away so we can only imagine the horrors of a murder, or letting us only hear half of a pivotal court case through the crack in a door.
Once again it's a ripping good "wrong man" thriller plot but Jon Finch's protagonist isn't the usual clean-cut Hollywood Hitchcock hero, he's a dishevelled, disorganised, bad tempered, drunk, so that freshens things up. He makes an interesting contrast with the actual killer, who unlike Finch has learned how to fake being friendly, helpful and respectable, a trait exhibited by real life serial killers. Barry Foster takes his gregarious facade to a creepily high pitch. My favourite comedy scenes involved the police detective on the case and his frightfully middle-class chipper house wife. He's an uncomplicated British bloke who is yearning for simple tucker, a full-english, pie and mash, or fish and chips but his wife keeps serving him gourmet fish heads and pig feet. Her culinary offerings seem to turn his stomach more than the grisly murders. I loved their banter over dinner and she reminded me of my Nana (from a similar time, place and social class... although she could do a cracking steak and kidney pie!). When 'Frenzy' is on that level it really works for me but bits like the rape scene are so nasty and so far from that tone. We get to know the very nice lady who it happens to, then have to endure the whole ordeal in real time, then see the life get strangled out of her terrified face. It would push the boundaries in any film but in this film it's out of place. I think the strict censorship system that Hitchcock was railing against 10 or 20s years before would've actually done him some favours here. Tone it down in a few places and you've got a classic up there with the best of Hitchcock.
This trailer is absolutely extraordinary!