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March 11, 2013

Movie Review: Experiment in Terror (1962, Blu-ray)

For a filmmaker whose name has been synonymous with classic comedies like The Pink Panther, Shot in The Dark, Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Party, Blake Edwards wasn't exactly someone you’d tag as a director for film in the thriller genre.  When you have talent like Edwards at the helm I’d like to think it would be possible but you never know. This made watching Twilight Time’s newly re-mastered Blu-ray release of Edwards’ 1962 film Experiment in Terror quite intriguing.

Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remmick, Anatomy of a Murder, The Omen) is in a bit if a bind – she’s being terrorized by a madman (Ross Martin, Wild Wild West) who wants her to steal 100,000 dollars from the bank which she works. If Kelly doesn’t listen to “Red”, her sister, Toby Sherwood (Stefanie Powers, Hart to Hart) will die.

After being told by her captor not to go to the police, she does just that and receives the help of FBI agent John Ripley (Glenn Ford, The Big Heat, and Blackboard Jungle). Red isn't stupid and catches on to the fact he’s got the authorities eyes on him. He continues to harass Sherwood and even Ripley via phone with his asthmatic voice.

Experiment in Terror has some horror elements – there’s a creepy scene with mannequins that stood out – but it’s primarily a first-rate film noir. Shadows are very effective when relevant to a scene and the cinematography by Philip H. Lathrop has an excellent variety. Whether it’s a secluded dark garage or flying over a stadium, Lathrop does a masterful job. Edwards regular and legend in his own right, Henry Mancini lends a wonderful score to the mix as well.

The performances are very good. The top players – Remmick, Powers and Ford are all solid, with Remmick as beautiful and classy as ever. The real stand-out is the amazing Ross Martin. Martin’s Peter Lorre-esque eyeballs and overall uneasy performance is top-notch and is alone worth a watch. His lecherous gaze is enough to make anyone squirm.

Twilight Time has done an excellent job in restoring Experiment in Terror for Blu-ray. The extras consist of some trailers and TV Spots and well-written liners by Julie Kirgo on the film. The trailers make Experiment in Terror look like a horror film and have a unique approach not used in many previews.

Experiment in Terror comes highly recommended for any admirers of film noir and Edwards. It may have been a departure from Edwards’s usual fare but it’s a winner all around.

Please head on over to Screen Archives where you can order this limited edition release.

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