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Neat little chiller with Polanski honing his abilities as a director and standout performances from Pleasence, Stander, and Dorleac. Pleasence, a hermit, lives with his succulent wife, Dorleac, in a large, dank, dark castle on a small island off the northeast coast of Britain. Dorleac is a nympho-in-training who's always looking for someone new to take her mind off her nutty husband. Escaped criminals Stander and MacGowran make their way to this remote outpost, and what we get is Polanski's version of THE DESPERATE HOURS. But the director exhibits such style in his writing and direction that one can forgive the excesses. CUL-DE-SAC is exaggerated, sinister, bleak, and spine-tingling. It is also somewhat thick in the middle and could have used a serious editor to whack away at it. Still, it's well worth seeing for the radiance of Dorleac, who died the following year in an automobile crash. In a tiny speaking part, Jacqueline Bisset is seen for the second time in her career.