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A filmmaking and acting legend team up for the genre classic “Strait-Jacket”, which gets a special-feature packed Blu-ray release from Scream Factory.

Strait-JacketDirector: William Castle
Producers: William Castle and Dona Holloway
Special Effects: Richard Albain
Cast: Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson, Howard St. John, John Anthony Hayes, Rochelle Hudson, George Kennedy, Edith Atwater, Mitchell Cox, Vicki Cos, Patricia Crest, Laura Hess, Howard Hoffman, Patty Lee, Lynn Lundgren, Lee Majors and Robert Ward
Released By: Shout!/Scream Factory
Release Date: August 21st, 2018

The Premise

Film legend Joan Crawford gives a terrific performance in this chiller from pioneer horror movie producer William Castle.

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 (Leif Erickson), his wife and her own daughter (Diane Baker), now twenty-three. Her nightmare is over … or is it? When a spate of axe 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.

The Dismemberment

I have my mother to thank for my appreciation of Joan Crawford.  While growing up I was exposed to the many dramatic and romantic roles she played during her career, but it was not until later in life that I became aware of a horror sub-genre she practically help to invent: the psycho-biddy, Grande Dame Guignol, or better known as Hagsploitation!

Legendary director William Castle always knew how to sniff out a hit, and this film was no exception. 

The lead role was originally supposed to go to Joan Blondell, but she was injured before shooting and Crawford was brought in to replace her. While many would consider WHAT HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? to be the film most would say was her best horror title, I find that STRAIT-JACKET is a more dynamic performance — and a film that does a fantastic job keeping you guessing.

Her acting is so STRONG that you feel as if she is playing two separate characters. THIS is the definition of what modern day actresses should be striving for when looking to play a believable manic character.

Not a guts and gore film by any means, there are still a few segments that are quite shocking for this time period.

The Deep Dive

*Warning: Plot Spoilers*

As the film opens, we see that Lucy Harbin has spent 20 years in a psychiatric hospital for the decapitation axe-murder of her husband (Lee Majors) and his mistress, after catching him cheating on her. In a flashback sequence, we see the events that lead up to the gruesome murders. Little did Lucy know that her 3 year old daughter Carol witnesses the horrific events.

We see flashes of her beheading and continuously hacking away at the bodies while being super-imposed over a scene of her writhing around in a strait-jacket. We cut to 20 years later and see her daughter Carol, now 20 years older, as she talks to her fiancé about her mother coming to stay with her after 20 years in an asylum. She is going to take up residence at the farm of her brother Bill Cutler and sister-in-law Emily, as the doctors think this is the next step in her therapy and recovery. Bill and Emily leave to pick up Lucy at the station while Carol works over her nervousness.

Carol is an artist and sculptor who was adopted by the Cutlers and also lives on the farm. While she is nervous about seeing her mother for the first time in 20 years, she seems unaffected by the ghastly murders she had witnessed as a three-year-old child. She shows her mother a bust she made of her while she was away, and it drives Lucy to tears due to her daughter’s talent and the memories of how she used to look.

Carol begins to encourage her mother to dress and act the way she did in the past, but it seems to open up another side of Lucy that has been long kept away. They go shopping for new clothes, but before long Lucy thinks she hears the neighborhood kids mocking her. She also has vivid nightmares of severed heads being in her bed. She seems to calm and thinks it is all