Anatomy of a Psycho (1961)


One Sheet Poster

Chet Marco has problems.  His brother has just been executed for murder, his sister is dating the son of the man whose testimony sent his brother to prison to begin with, and his girlfriend isn’t much interested in him anymore.  He’s also bent on getting revenge on everyone who had a hand in sending his brother to jail, since his brother claimed that he was innocent of the crime.  What unfolds is a fairly standard JD picture, with the added bonus of a revenge scenario thrown into the mix.  Let there be no doubt, however–Chet IS a psycho.  You can tell by the way he stares into the camera sometimes and by the humongous scar on his face that he got from a guy wielding a broken bottle in a street fight.

While it’s certainly not the worst film ever made, Anatomy of a Psycho doesn’t have a whole lot going for it, either.  The title is an obvious ploy to sucker in folks who liked the previous year’s hit Psycho while perhaps planting a subconscious tie to an equally popular film from 1959, Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder.  Although it takes a while before Chet starts doing really psychotic things in Anatomy of a Psycho, he eventually gets there, but the climactic scene is a real cop-out.  The film has lapsed into the public domain (well, to be truthful, it might never have been copyrighted in the first place), which means that there’s not a really pristine copy of this floating around out there.  The copy that I saw had really muffled audio.

Cast members that you might recognize include Ronnie Burns, Jack and Gracie’s adopted son (who was featured in a whole bunch of episodes of their TV show); Pamela Lincoln, who was in William Castle’s The Tingler a couple of years before this; and Don Devlin, who had bounced around AIP for a few years prior to making this and was featured in such films as Blood of Dracula and Operation Dames (and whose son, Dean Devlin, was one of the writers and producers of the unfathomably awful 1998 Godzilla cinematic atrocity).  Probably THE most recognizable thing about this film, however, is that it uses some of the same music cues that Ed Wood used in Plan 9 from Outer Space.  I found this aspect of the film to be particularly disorienting.  Oddly enough, there’s a rumor going around that Ed Wood helped write the film.  Take that as you may.

Even though I can’t find an actual trailer from the film’s original release anywhere on YouTube, there are probably a half-dozen or more uploads of the full feature.  One of them has even been haphazardly converted to 3D!  You can watch it here, if you’re curious.  Of the others, the one below probably has the best video and audio quality of the bunch, but it’s still not entirely up to snuff.  If you want to see it for free, however, have at it:

Up next: The dead hand that crawls, kills, and lives!!!

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