Monday, May 23, 2011

A Vincent-a-Day: 'Shock'

Leading up to the 100th anniversary of Vincent Price’s birth I’ll be checking out one of the maestro’s lesser known films every day this week.

Shock (1946- dir. Alfred L. Werker)

The festivities begin with a film rather different from the others I’ll be reviewing this week. Despite its title and dark-and-stormy-night credits sequence, Shock is more melodramatic noir than monster movie. Vincent Price still gets to work his creepy hoodoo as a psychiatrist who has his own psycho episode that zaps emotionally fragile witness Anabel Shaw into catatonia. This is straight up, B-grade Hitchcock, with its macabre voyeurism, psychobabble, and nifty twist: naturally, Price turns out to be the shrink brought in to rescue Shaw from Daffy Town. Alfred L. Werker’s direction is stylish, tossing a psychotic dream sequence, a spooky stalking scene inside a mental ward, and plenty of montage into the stew. But Price is the cat who really makes this picture swing, playing his mad-doctor-of-a-different-sort with hand-wringing guilt and slow-talking menace. I dug it.
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