Experiment in Terror (1962)



It’s a tough sell to describe any film from 1962 as “frightening” to an audience today.  We live, after all, in a movie world of three-dimensional buckets of gore — not to mention terrorism in real life.  So how about I just call Experiment in Terror “effective and creepy”?  It’s definitely that, in no small measure thanks to an unlikely director and a musical genius.

Blake Edwards, whom most people associate with comedy (the Pink Panther films), made just one excursion into the realm of suspense, but it was a doozy.   Experiment stars Lee Remick as unfortunate bank teller Kelly Sherwood, targeted by asthmatic menace “Red” Lynch (Ross Martin) to steal $100,000 from the bank where she works.  Lynch, to prod Kelly along, embarks on a systematic terror campaign, including the abduction of her younger sister.

Edwards filmed the movie in black-and-white and his use of light and shadow is masterful;  San Francisco at night never looked eerier.  Bit by bit, Edwards reveals his villain to the audience — first shadows, then a closeup of a mouth, then a profile — as Lynch gradually escalates his threats against Kelly.

Aiding and abetting all of this is a hair-raising musical score courtesy of Henry Mancini.  Mancini’s music is creepy and crawly, like footsteps slowly advancing up the basement stairs, making their way toward you in the dark.     Grade:  A


Director:  Blake Edwards  Cast:  Lee Remick, Glenn Ford, Ross Martin, Stefanie Powers, Roy Poole, Ned Glass  Release:  1962


Experiment small1  Experiment small2

                                            Watch the Trailer (click here)


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