“If I’m going to play a madwoman, I’ve got to know what it’s really like!”
An actress (Samantha Eggar) and her director-husband (John Vernon) agree Eggar should check herself into a mental asylum under false pretenses, to prepare for an upcoming role as “Audra” — but when she learns that Vernon planned to leave her in the asylum and audition six other actresses (Deborah Burgess, Lynne Griffin, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn, Sandra Warren, and Lesleh Donaldson) for the part of Audra, she vows revenge.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Actors and Actresses
- Mental Illness
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
- Samantha Eggar Films
- Serial Killers
What would people “kill” for? Landing a coveted role in a high-profile show might evoke such urges in disturbed actors, as we’ve seen play out (metaphorically) in films such as All About Eve (1950) and Mephisto (1981). However, this Canadian slasher flick takes the sentiment to its literal bloody conclusion, with the entire screenplay centering on numerous young women unknowingly putting their lives at risk for a role. At first the movie seems to be flirting with the dangerous territory covered in Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor (1963), as a “sane” woman (Eggar) foolishly commits herself to a mental asylum (not a good idea!!!!).
But we fairly quickly shift to a more serious variation on Murder By Death (1976), with a group of individuals all invited to a big, dark house for a specific purpose.
We’re kept in reasonable suspense about the identity of the killer, and there are plenty of unnerving twist and turns. As described in the Canuxploitation review:
By the time animated curtains fall on the final bookend scene — a performance in front of a handful of drooling asylum inmates — the film has supplied enough black-gloved killings, whodunit red herrings, terrorized beauties and theatrical set pieces to qualify it as more of a snowy giallo than anything else.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A clever screenplay with some effectively handled chills
- John Vernon as Jonathan Stryker
No, but fans of the genre will want to check it out. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.