After the success of Hitchcock's classic PSYCHO there was a rush of imitation films, some good, some despicable. PARANOIAC, while nothing like its inspiration, ranks as one of the best of these efforts. Scott goes to a memorial service for her late parents. While there she glimpses a figure who bears a striking resemblance to a brother who committed suicide seven years previously. This is all the excuse her surviving brother Reed needs to prove she's mentally unbalanced and not worthy of an inheritance. Scott begins to doubt her sanity and tries to kill herself as well. Who should rescue her but Davion, the supposedly dead brother. He claims that there was no suicide, just a disappearance. He moves back to the family mansion and must fend off mysterious and violent attacks. He also finds himself falling in love with Scott and admits he is an impostor. Meanwhile, Reed's incessant organ playing rings throughout the castle, driving everyone just a shade madder. A la PSYCHO, they confront him and discover he is the real killer and is keeping the mummified remains of his brother in a chapel. He knocks out Davion and ties him up while Reed's equally crazy aunt Burrell sets the place ablaze to cover the crimes. Scott manages to rescue Davion from the flames, but Reed dies as he tries to save what's left of his kid brother. PARANOIAC has some great plot twists, many of them closely modeled (without credit) on elements of Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar, and the macabre stylization betrays director Freddie Francis' past work as a top-notch cinematographer. Reed is wonderfully sick, combining a sly sort of wit with some gruesome behavior. It's a semi-comical characterization that never disappoints. This was the first directorial effort for Francis, who builds the suspense well with some genuinely frightening sequences and good pace.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: After the success of Hitchcock's classic PSYCHO there was a rush of imitation films, some good, some despicable. PARANOIAC, while nothing like its inspiration, ranks as one of the best of these efforts. Scott goes to a memorial service for her late parents… (more)