TWO ON A GUILLOTINE
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Warner Archive has released another forgotten classic on DVD. This time, it’s the 1965 thriller “Two on a Guillotine.” The story follows a young woman named Cassie (Connie Stevens) who stands to inherit a fortune from her dead magician father, whose guillotine act accidentally claimed the life of her mother twenty years before. In order to get her inheritance, Cassie must live in her father’s spooky mansion for a week.
WHAT I LIKED
While I’m not a fan of the movies from the 1960s, this one really intrigued me. First, for a thriller released only a few years after “Psycho,” “Two on a Guillotine” is pretty edgy for its day. After all, it’s nice to watch some heads roll in the film, even though the violence is really tame by today’s standards.
In many ways, this film reminded me of the cheesy Vincent Price classic “House on Haunted Hill,” which featured a similar stay-in-a-spooky-house storyline. This movie opens with a bang, presenting the guillotine and the unfortunate deaths early on. Mid-way through, it becomes a character study between Cassie and a reporter, played by Dean Jones. I’m okay with that because the shifting tone in the film works for what it was.
There’s more going on in this film that you might expect, even as it leads to the climax. The performances are good, and it’s not so big that it seems unfathomable. It’s a bit predictable, but the ending is definitely worth the wait. I can see where this may have made some audiences jump back in the mid-60s.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
My complaints of this film stem more from the filmmaking techniques of the 1960s. There’s some overly melodramatic scenes and music, and the pacing is pretty slow compared to movies today. Still, it’s a slow burn that comes off more level-headed than anything that you’d see today. It is an example of “They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” for both good and bad reasons.
Like other films in the Warner Archive collection, this does not come with any special features. But at least the chapter list is broken down a little more logically than just a new point every ten minutes.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of 1960s ghost stories.