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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Extortion > Robbery > Murder > Detective > Neo Noir > Experiment In Terror (1962/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Experiment In Terror (1962/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Films: B



PLEASE NOTE:  This Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 copies and is available exclusively at the Screen Archives website which can be reached at the link at the end of this review.



Though the late Blake Edwards is now known for comedies, he was capable of serious films and thrillers, among other genres.  This included thrillers and in the wake of Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho (1960), every studio in Hollywood and beyond jumped on the bandwagon to capitalize on what was a tremendous blockbuster.  In the case of Columbia Pictures, these films included Arthur Penn’s Mickey One (1963), William Castle’s ultimate Psycho take-off, the hilarious, bizarre, impressive Homicidal (1962) and Edward’s thriller Experiment In Terror (1962) which were all shot in beautiful black and white film.  But it is Edwards’ film making it to Blu-ray now in a terrific new limited edition from Twilight Time.


The story begins very quickly as a young bank teller (Lee Remick in her early glory) comes home at night only to be grabbed and threatened by an unseen man that she will rob the bank of a small fortune for him or she or her sister (a young Stephanie Powers, soon of Columbia’s creepy thriller Die! Die! My Darling, reviewed elsewhere on this site) will be hurt or killed.  She is being watched and terrorized, but a failed call to the police gets the attention of a smart detective (Glenn Ford in one of his better performances) starts to investigate and starts to uncover that the call was not a fraud.


From there, the story develops in layers, smartly written by Gordon & Mildred Gordon from their novel Operation Terror and Edwards is more than up to the task of making this as suspenseful and rich as possible.  The film looks and sounds great going on 51 years and in some ways, does not seem to have aged at all, remaining as potently creepy as it ever was.  With some still-shocking moments and a supporting cast that includes Ned Glass (Charade), Clifton James (Live & Let Die), and uncredited Ray Kellogg and the Ross Martin (the original Twilight Zone and original Wild, Wild West), the film achieves an intensity that makes it a sadly forgotten thriller.


It has been a very long time since I have seen it, but Experiment In Terror is the kind of first-class thriller Hollywood rarely seems to be able to make anymore, the kind that launches careers and where we get to know the characters and their world in a palpable way.  As a matter of fact, I would consider it at least a minor genre classic and the kind of film the makers could be proud of and helped make Columbia Pictures a major studio for good.  It is definitely an influential work and one long overdue for rediscovery.  Get it in this limited run copy while you can!



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfer is from a solid HD master with excellent Video Black, nice Video White and terrific Gray Scale, showing how the monochrome stocks had become faster as the original era of Film Noir (that concluded in 1958) gave way to a new look in thrillers.  Shot by Director of Photography Phillip H. Lathrop, he had worked with Russell Metty on Welles’ Touch Of Evil (1958, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and that influence is strongly here, but Lathrop is more than formidable on his own.  He was DP on many of Edwards’ films including the original Pink Panther (1964, also reviewed on Blu-ray on this site) as well as John Boorman’s innovative Point Blank (1967), Sydney Pollack’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978).


This is a solid demo-quality transfer of a black and white film the way they should look and looks as good as any such films on Blu-ray from the period including Psycho (which had some of its frame badly trimmed), so serious film fans will want this one just for the playback quality.


The film was a theatrical monophonic release, but the sound here has been upgraded to a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is not bad fort the film’s age including the great instrumental theme song and all around savvy music scoring by Edwards’ longtime composer, the legendary, immortal Henry Mancini.  He was in his early prime here having scored Touch Of Evil and later, Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963) & Donen’s Arabesque (1966), plus Terence Young’s Wait Until Dark (1967) and his work on Experiment In Terror is as strong as any of those proving he was a master of the thriller genre.  That is why it is also great the music score is here in an isolated DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless track.  Watch the film a second time with only his music and you’ll hear and see a genius at work.


Besides that great isolated music score, extras include a new illustrated booklet on the film with another winning essay by Julie Kirgo, plus two Original Theatrical Trailers and two TV Spots.  Hard to believe they are only making this one for a limited time.



As noted above, Experiment In Terror can be ordered while supplies last at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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