Wicked Wednesday: Held for Ransom (2000)

“It can’t get any worse,” she thought. Oh but it did, it did.

Held for Ransom is pretty much a culmination of things I hate in movies. The era, the dialogue, the setting, the characters. Dennis Hopper and Debi Mazar are in it. They should be two saving graces, but they’re especially terrible in this. I believed in you, Dennis, and you only let me down.

In fairness, this is probably the first direct-to-video movie I’ve watched for Wicked Wednesday. They’re a different sort of beast to made-for-TV. Not that there is anything wrong with that (though it usually is a mark of quality), but it was ‘distributed’ by Blockbuster Video. What does that even mean? Don’t they technically distribute everything they rent out?

Anyway, from the title alone you can guess the premise, plot and ending. A bunch of spoiled/stupid kids are on the school bus home when they realise they are being kidnapped. They are held for ransom by a couple (Hopper and Mazar) who keep them holed up in a cabin in a swamp.

The parents of the children are forced to scrape together the ransom money. None of the children are to be released until the ransom has been paid for each child. The teens do make their attempts to escape, but they aren’t very bright, so they keep getting caught.

Jesse is the main character. Sort of. She narrates the film occasionally, but she’s not very memorable. That’s mostly because she’s poorly written and actually doesn’t even much screen time. When she kisses a boy at the end, I’m mostly just forced to guess what boy it is because they all look pretty much the same. They have zero chemistry and about three lines together.


The kids eventually get out. Surprise. There’s a tiny little twist at the end where one of the dads ends up being in on the kidnap plot. He tells his daughter that she wasn’t meant to be on the bus. The real target didn’t get on the bus that day because she was with her boyfriend.

While it’s kind of a fun twist, it’s pretty poorly thrown together. And again, I was mostly asking myself who the hell is this guy? 

Very little is done in general to make you care about the characters. Probably because there are so many of them. Between the kidnappers, the parents and the teens there’s a pretty big cast. I could understand where a book version would be easier to follow because you could remember names. The background stories given to most people in the film is pretty basic, and thus pretty difficult to remember.

There’s also very little suspense for a thriller. Heck, they don’t even kill anyone off! If you’re going to go down this ‘edgy’ route with a Lois Duncan adaptation – fucking commit!

Ransom was first published in 1966 and was Duncan’s first thriller novel. It’s not one I’ve personally read, but it’s pretty safe to say that this adaptation was probably not what Duncan had in mind when writing this book.

It’s garish, crude, and has a pretty poorly written script. There is no trace of Duncan’s style anywhere on this film. I imagine many of her plotlines were in the movie, but everything felt so rushed (it’s under 90 minutes) I almost couldn’t follow what anyone was talking about. For example, there are two brothers and one apparently has killed someone in a driving accident but was never blamed. This only comes into the movie at the very end and means absolutely nothing!

Give it a miss. Forget about it. Throw it away. Burn it. Close down that last Blockbuster. Whatever.


Wicked Wednesday: Don’t Look Behind You (1999)

We continue into week two of Lois Duncan month with yet another made-for-TV movie. This one was made the year after I’ve Been Waiting For You, but looks about eight years older, and is a lot more shit.

Don’t Look Behind You is actually a pretty decent novel. It’s about a girl’s family forced into Witness Protection due to her father’s work with the FBI. But ultimately (like many of Duncan’s novel) it’s about a teenager learning the harsh realities of the world. Particularly that her actions have actual consequences.

Unfortunately, this little bit of Fox Family TV is trash fire that throws all that out the window. The book’s ending (kinda spoiler) is not exactly a “happy” one. It’s a realistic one. Here? Well, there’s nothing the father of a white family can’t do!

Jeff Corrigan works in the offices of a shady businessman who is smuggling weapons in drugs in Mexico. While trying to leave work with a hidden floppy disc of information, he’s caught by his boss Eric Loftin. He discovers that Jeff is wearing a wire and is talking to the FBI. The FBI agents swoop in to save the day, but Jeff is shot in the shoulder.

Loftin’s crew will do anything to make sure that Jeff can’t testify against him in court. This seems slightly irrelevant. Wouldn’t the FBI have all of Jeff’s/Loftin’s conversation recorded if Jeff was on a wire? How does technology work? How do courts work?

Anyway, Jeff’s family (now estranged) are herded together and taken to the bureau where they learn about Jeff’s heroics. He and his wife Liz had separated months ago, with Jeff claiming that his FBI contact, Ellie, was his girlfriend.

But since the family are at risk, they tell them that they must stay under FBI supervision. This means that Jeff’s daughter April can’t go to the prom. This is obviously much more upsetting than someone trying to kill her father.

The girl really doesn’t have a concept of reality. Loftin escapes during his prison transfer. And for some reason, she thinks its still a good idea to try calling her boyfriend from her house.

Loftin’s Russian/German/British?/vaguely Eastern European hackers manage to trace the call. They tap April’s boyfriend’s phone, able to trace any future calls from April.

Of course April is silly enough to continue to try contacting her boyfriend, and her family are attacked at a hotel. Because of the attack and Loftin’s escape, the FBI put the Corrigans into Witness Protection (or Witness Relocation – whatever).

The Corrigans move to their new town and see their new home. It’s of course a cute mid-Century modern home with lots of the original features. But there is some dust, so it’s apparently a hell hole.

Mr and Mrs Corrigan reignite their passion. April pines for her boyfriend who would only be cute in the 90s. Oh and there’s a son who serves no purpose.

But one night April tries to run away, and calls her boyfriend when she gets back to her house. Which, again, if the family were put into Witness Relocation, surely their house would have been sold and not sitting there for April to return to, but WHATEVER.

Loftin and his cronies pick up April’s call to her bf and realise she’s off on her own. They use April’s stupidity against her family, luring them and Ellie to the Corrigans’ home. But thankfully Ellie shoots Loftin. Not before Jeff can’t show off a little bit. Then the family decide to hang out back at their home!

Hooray! Everything is happy. Despite the fact that if there was one supplier, Loftin was just a link in a giant chain. I give the Corrigans about one week before they’re all murdered in their beds. But hey ho. They’re going to Europe for a two-week holiday!

This has to be one of the most irritating made-for-TV movies I have ever seen. In fact, it’s hands-down the worst. It’s not only cheese and poorly written, but it’s an insult to its original material.

Unfortunately, since the film decided to shift the focus from April to Jeff, I sort of don’t care what happens at the end of the movie. The girl is given no character arc. No redemption or lessons learned. She’s just a brat that gets whatever she wants. Oh, I guess she had to cut her hair.

But the movie is so hellbent on convincing you that Jeff is a great guy. That Jeff ultimately did the right thing. In reality, this should be much more ambiguous. Maybe Patrick Duffy had a clause in his contract that he needed to be the hero at all times. Something stupid needs to explain it.

Don’t Look Behind You could definitely a “so bad it’s fun” sort of film. If you haven’t read the book, it could certainly be seen that way. When you get irritated enough to go all MST3K on it, it’s at least worth giving credit for that. It has bad line-delivery, outlandish plots, outlandish plot holes, a bad script and cheap sets.

This is a piece of crap, but hopefully this is as bad as it gets.

Unnecessary fun fact: baddie Loftin was played by German actor Dominic Raacke, who was in Cannibal Ferox!

Wicked Wednesday: I’ve Been Waiting For You (1998)

It’s Lois Duncan month! Why? Because I can!

Actually, this month the latest adaption of one of Duncan’s novels is released later this August. Look it, everyone. I’m being topical!

I love Duncan’s work. She has a fantastic ability to make teenagers suffer. They’re both realistic and surreal, often blending the two seamlessly. Many adaptions of her novels, though, are rather strange.

In a Buzzfeed article from two years before her death, Duncan was supposedly astonished while watching the theatrical version of I Know What You Did Last Summer. In 1989, Duncan’s daughter Kaitlyn was murdered. The distress she put her own characters through no longer seemed appealing.

Seeing added violence to her work was probably all the more appalling.

I’ve Been Waiting For You is an adaptation of Duncan’s final (fictional) thriller. Sarah and her mother move to the sleepy town of Pinecrest, Massachusetts from California.

Sarah has natural abilities to see into the future. On her first day of class, she frightens her classmate by correctly reading his palm. But she finds a kindred spirit in Charlie, the young boy who works at the local crystal shop in town.

It’s through Charlie that Sarah begins to learn the mythology behind her new house, the Lancaster House. He tells her that a woman had once lived in the town, and was burned for being a witch in a place near to her home. Before dying, the witch had vowed to take revenge on the descendants of those that had burned her.

The kids making hell of Sarah’s social life are clearly the descendants in question. They call themselves the Descendants Club. With Sarah’s arrival, they all become nervous. Her natural ‘witchy’ abilities frighten them.

The Descendants tell Sarah more about the witch’s story. She was named Sarah Lancaster. She was taken to jail, and while imprisoned she learned that her lover had married another woman. One night, the couple were murdered. As Sarah had been locked up, she couldn’t possibly be the witch…only she was found in her cell – covered in blood.

Despite the fact that the group terrorise her (and tell her stories that she’s descendant of a witch), she agrees to go to one of their parties. But couple Kyra and Eric want her to be a fortune teller. They hook her up to a wire so she can be fed information about the people whose fortunes she’s reading.

Unbeknownst to her, Kyra and Eric leave after they get bored. Sarah believes she’s hearing their voices tell her what to say, but she’s clearly hearing true fortunes. One of her predictions is a little too close to home, and one of the girls runs away from the party.

The girl is found the next day, seemingly scared to death. But her death only causes the students in Pincrest to suspect Sarah of more horrible business. She becomes the target of increasingly horrible attacks, including one that almost drowns her.

But while Sarah survives, members of the Descendants Club being to dwindle. The suspense builds and the secrets keep getting revealed and ultimately explodes in a pretty fun twist ending.

The heart of the film is really interesting and compelling to watch. Is Sarah really a witch? Or is she merely innocent and targeted because of her powers? The addition of a masked serial killer, though… feels unnecessary.

It’s pretty clear in this adaption that the filmmakers were trying to bank on I Know What…’s success. Throw in a serial killer and lots of death scenes. Grim, yes. But that’s what successful franchises are built on.

As a made-for-TV movie, I’ve Been Waiting For You is pretty low on violence. But it still begs the question: what did the violence add, if anything, to the film? Are viewers so hungry for murder that we can’t handle a simple thriller? Or is it simply the case of an author’s name being tied to an idea of violence that doesn’t really belong to her.

But as far as adaptions of Duncan’s books go. This is one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve seen. The script is a bit corny, but it still perfectly encapsulates autumnal spookiness. For a bit of witchy fun, make sure to watch this one.

Wicked Wednesday: Sorority Row (2009)

I try not to pre-judge movies. I’d say I’m pretty good at judging character, and pretty bad at judging movies. But with a film like Sorority Row it’s hard not to think it’s crap before hitting play. Throw in “starring Rumer Willis” and it would be hard to convince me otherwise. Top it off with no-longer-relevant reality TV stars and we’ve pretty much got the verdict set in stone before even hitting play.

Sorority Row is a 21-century remake of the classic slasher The House on Sorority Row. It amps up the gore, body count and language, but it sort of forgot to make a good script. The original was by no means great. It’s probably Good with a capital ‘g’ but it is head-and-shoulders superior to its remake.

For one, the plot twist in the original was good (or was at least fun). But I’m getting ahead of myself here. As far as plot goes, if you’ve seen the original, you can guess how the update goes.

A group of irritating sorority sisters decide to prank a boy called Garrett, who had cheated on his girlfriend Megan. They pretend that she’s overdosed on the roofies she’s seen given, and Megan fakes her own death. The girls and Garrett drive the ‘body’ to a ‘lake’ (more like a quarry) to ‘dispose of it’. But Garrett actually panics and stabs Megan in the chest with a tire iron, to empty her lungs of air so she doesn’t float in the water.

This, of course, actually kills Megan. And that’s not really part of the plan. They girls dump Megan’s body in a mineshaft and agree not to tell anyone. Everyone but Cassidy, who is adamant that they go to the police. Her sisters threaten to turn on her, so she agrees to keep the secret.

Eight months later, the sisters all graduate. Over the course of the night, they’re all killed off. The film attempts to up the suspense by using newer technologies like texting. Each of the girls receive a text from ‘Megan’. But it’s of course not Megan because girl has a damn tire iron in her chest.

Oh, and they find Megan’s decomposing corpse in the bathroom. Which pretty much puts their ‘Megan-is-the-killer’ theory to rest.

In the end, the killer ends up being Cassidy’s boring boyfriend. Why? Because the other sisters didn’t keep their secret very well. He needed everyone who knew the story to be dead so that the two of them can have a good future. But he dies. And however months later we see that Garrett is still alive even though he was clearly run-over multiple times by Jessica in a car.

Why are these girls so bad at killing people? Even illegal fertility treatments is a more convincing ending.

Sorority Row is just a film of its era. It’s lazy, cliched and predictable. Well, maybe not that ending but it’s so stupid why would you want do guess it?

In the original, the girls are 100% responsible for the death of their housemother. Here, the girls are actually not guilty. So it makes it all a little less convincing. They keep claiming their guilty of her death, but they’re not. They’re just guilty of being silly and dumping a corpse.

There’s a lot I didn’t like about Sorority Row. But one thing I will give it is this: Leah Pipes as bad bitch Jessica is absolutely hilarious. I would force myself to watch this movie again, if only for her performance. Easily the standout of the film.

I suppose, though. If you know something is probably not going to be to your taste, you should probably leave it alone. I brought this upon myself and I really only have myself to blame.

Wicked Wednesday: Carnival of Souls (1962)

“I don’t belong in the world. That’s what it is. Something separates me from other people.”

Most weeks when I finish watching my movies for Wicked Wednesday, my feels can be summed up as “ambivalent.” Neither irritating enough to complain about nor good enough to remember. Some weeks the movies are “fun” or “amusing” but occasionally I find something that really strikes a chord.

Carnival of Souls is a beautiful, haunting movie about loneliness. It’s also a movie about ghosts. But what’s really important is that it’s really fucking good.

One day, during a drag race, a car careens off a bridge and into the water. The three women inside are presumed dead after searching the river. Only one girl, Mary, emerges looking bedraggled and unable to remember anything about the accident.

Mary isn’t everyone’s favourite. She’s distant and detached. Even more so after the accident. She leaves town to go to her new job as a church organist.

On her drive to Utah, she sees an abandoned building that immediately captures her attention. But while studying it, a ghostly man appears as a reflection in her passenger window. She swerves off the road when his image appears again in her windshield. She stops at a local gas station where the man tells her it was once a bath house, a dance hall and finally a carnival.

Once Mary arrives at her new home, she immediately puts off her walls. She doesn’t want to meet the congregation. She doesn’t want to mingle with her fellow tenant (a creep named John). But she does agree to a drive with a minister, which takes her closer to the pavilion.

Mary begins to see The Man, as she calls him, around the town. She sees him in her lodgings, but her land lady tells her the only man in the building is John.

Things begin to get stranger for Mary. While trying on new clothes she realises that she can’t hear anyone speak, and no one seems to even notice her. She begins to panic at a park when a doctor finds her and offers to help.

Dr Samuels explains to her that her visions of The Man could be manifestations of her guilt. Simply tricks of her imagination.

Despite the doctors suggestions, Mary doesn’t believe him. She decides to visit the pavilion again – alone.  Strange, little things begin to happen. Like items moving on their own. An illustration of her isolation from others.

John, the other tenant, continues to pursue Mary and after he calls her cold, she agrees to go out on a date with him that night. But before either date, Mary goes to the church to play on the organ. She gets swept up in the music, and begins to play something melodic and strange. The minister begins furious with her and asks for her resignation.

With that little treat to set the mood, Mary spends much of her date with John in a foul mood. She doesn’t want to talk. She doesn’t want to drink. And she doesn’t want to dance. After getting John angry with her, she begins to insist that she needs to be with him.

John, being a perv, believes that means Mary wants to be with him and begins to come on to her. When she resists, he leaves. She barricades herself in the room until the following morning after Dr Samuels examines her.

Mary begins her journey to try and leave. Only the village doesn’t seem to want to let her go. She slowly spirals into a sort of madness. A realisation that something isn’t right. That she doesn’t belong in the world.

The ending of Carnival of Souls is perhaps predictable, but it’s still satisfying. Each scene has great cinematography that helps build a sense of delirium.

Carnival of Souls is a ‘fun’ movie to pick apart and dissect, particularly the ending. While it is intentionally abstract, the movie never makes itself feel unnecessarily complex. Sure, it’s a film about ghosts, but it also captures the feeling of helplessness, and emotion and mental disconnect. Things you don’t have to be a ghoul to understand.

This was the only feature-length film made by director Herk Harvey (who also plays The Man). That only seems to add mystique around the movie itself. If Harvey had mysteriously disappeared before its release, I’d assume I was watching Popcorn again.

One of the most commonly noted things about Carnival is it’s incredibly tiny budget ($33,000). What Harvey managed to achieve was nothing short of incredible. It helped that actress Candace Hilligoss is completely mesmerising as the wide-eyed, tortured Mary.

I’m definitely late to the game when it comes to watching Carnival of Souls (that theatrical poster is really misleading), but all that matters is that I got here in the end. Right? But don’t make the same mistakes I did. Watch it. Love it. Have sweet dreams of dancing ghouls.

Wicked Wednesday: Popcorn (1991)

Sometimes, what a horror movie really needs is a unique setting. Step aside, summer camps. Go away, sleepy small towns! Horror movie marathons is where we should be. And thanks to the comedy slasher Popcorn, our horror-nerd dreams get to come true.

Young university student Maggie has a reoccurring dream about a girl named Sarah, who is attacked by a mad man. She records her memories on her tape recorder in hopes of later using it for a movie. Her dream worries her mother, who has shepherded her from place to place since she was a girl.

Maggie’s film department is rather pushed around. No space and no money. But her fellow classmate Toby comes up with the idea to host an horror film festival. But not just any all-night: one with all the bells and whistles of the gimmick-movie heyday (including aroma-rama and shock-o-vision). A local memorabilia shop owner allows them to use his things to decorate the cinema and get it ready for the night.

But just as the students wrap up their work, they discover a canister containing old film. They decide to run the film. They soon realise that it’s a strange movie called The Possessor, and follows Maggie’s dream almost identically. Maggie faints during the film, and when she’s awake, their professor tells them about the movie.

The professor explains that it was made by a man named Lanyard Gate, a man who ran a sort of film-related cult. Gates killed his family live on stage before setting fire to the movie theatre, which killed the entire audience that was locked inside.

Considering the similarities between her dream and the film, Maggie asks her mom about it. She claims not to know anything, but soon gets a phone call. Maggie’s mom goes to the movie theatre where she is attacked by someone and grabbed.

The following day is the movie marathon, the film department gear up for the long night ahead. A strange, unseen man approached Maggie in the ticket booth and calls her Sarah. She tries to find him, but he’s lost in the sea of costumed customers.

During the first film, the professor is killed by being impaled by a giant robotic mosquito. He’s dragged away where someone made a cast of his face, then a rubber mask.

One of the students goes backstage, looking for the professor. She sees a man with the professor’s face and begins to make out with him, but she soon realises that it’s a mask. The man peels off the mask revealing a badly-burnt face. She’s killed before she can even attempt to get away.

The burned man then kills another student, Bud, by electrocuting him in his wheelchair. The surge in power casues the entire cinema to lose power.

The remaining students (unaware that their classmates all dropping like flies) all attempt to regain power before the audience really loses their shit. Maggie goes to look for Bud, but instead finds the burned man, who claims to be Gates. He tells her that she is his daughter, and that her real name is Sarah. Oh and her mom is not her real mom because her real mother was stabbed to death!

Maggie finds Toby and the two of them attempt to look for the circuit breakers. She tells him about her childhood memories, which had been unlocked with her conversation with Gates. While searching, they both fall into a hole and into the lair of the killer.

But in a twist-reveal, Gates admits that he is not actually Lanyard Gates, but TOBY. Stupid, stuttering Toby. He begins to show off his masks to Maggie, explaining that his mother had been killed in the fire when he and her were front stage watching the film. His face became disfigured, requiring him to use a life-like mask to make himself appear real.

Obviously he blames Sarah/Maggie for everything because as she was only a child, she’s solely guilty for everything! But then he wheels out ‘mom’, who is actually Maggie’s aunt, who saved her during the ordeal.

Toby’s chess pieces are in order when the final film of the marathon cuts out and The Possessor begins to play. Maggie and her mom and placed on stage where Toby begins to perfectly re-enact the scenes from the film.

Just before he’s able to kill Maggie, she’s saved by her boyfriend, who zip-lines onto stage. The giant, robotic mosquito kills Toby, and ultimately saves the day (yay).

Popcorn was written by my now go-to Canadian writer, Alan Ormsby (DerrangedDead of Night). This was very similar to what he was going for in his film Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. A group of high-brow artists (in this case, filmmakers in Children it’s stage actors) who stumble upon darker circumstances than they bargained for.

I personally love the idea of the movie marathon as the setting. But it also is a nice look at why horror fans are ultimately so sadistic. We cheer for deaths and destruction, but does that confusion bleed into reality?

The movie was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to re-watch it again with a better picture. Popcorn will be re-released on Blu-Ray in the UK through 88 Films this October.

Wicked Wednesday: Tourist Trap (1979)

Ever wonder what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would be like if Leatherface was more into dolls than corpses? Well, if you have then lucky you! Look no further than Tourist Trap!

This 1979 slasher is weird and silly, but offers up plenty of uncomfortable moments.

When a group of friends are on a road trip, one couple hits road trouble. The boyfriend, Woody, takes the tire down the road to look for help.

He finds a gas station filled with strange mannequins. It’s seemingly empty, but before he can leave, Woody is trapped in the room and attacked by flying objects. The boy is impaled with a metal pole and dies.

Meanwhile, his friends find Woody’s girlfriend Eileen waiting by the broken down car. They give her a ride and they stop at a small tourist trap when Jerry’s jeep also breaks down. The girls decide to take a dip in a little oasis where they are interrupted by an older man, Slausen.

Slausen offers to help the girls and Jerry and takes them into his tourist trap – a museum with animatronic mannequins.

Jerry and Slausen leave to get the jeep sorted, leaving the three girls alone. Despite Slausen’s warning, Eileen goes into the nearby house to look for Woody or a working phone.

Eileen finds a room filled with mannequins inside the house and before you can sing “Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now,” a man in a mask attacks Eileen and she’s strangled to death.

Slausen returns and finds Eileen missing, and the remaining two girls, Molly and Becky, explain that she left. When Slausen enters the house, he finds Eileen, only now she’s become a mannequin.

In the meantime, Molly and Becky explore the tourist trap. They find a photograph of a woman who looks remarkably like one of the mannequins. But after waiting, they decide to look for Eileen. Becky sneaks into the house and is attacked.

She soon finds herself tied up in the basement by the strange, ranting masked man. She’s not alone in the basement, though, as she’s joined by Jerry and a rando named Tina. In the basement, the masked man talks incessantly about his brother (Jerry assumes that the the masked man is Slausen’s brother) while plastering a mold over Tina’s face – suffocating her.

Jerry attempts to escape, but the killer uses his telekinetic powers to fight him and move the dropped keys from Jerry’s reach.

Molly, meanwhile, is alone. She soon stumbles across the masked killer and is attacked. But she’s saved by Slausen, who claims that the attacker was her brother. He gives her his shotgun, and tells her to use it in case the man arrives again. Slausen goes into the museum, leaving Molly alone. When the killer reappears, she shoots him only to realise the gun is filled with blanks.

The killer takes off his mask to reveal that (surprise) it’s Slausen himself! He overpowers Molly, and she wakes up strapped to a bed in a room filled with (surprise) mannequins.

Becky and Jerry manage to escape the basement. While Slausen is busy entertaining Molly, the two try to sneak out. Only they’re separated. Slauslen catches Becky in the tourist trap where she’s killed by the Old West mannequins.

Molly then ends up getting released from bed (this is honestly like a damn Benny Hill scene) and is attacked by the mannequins. Slausen tells her then that he killed his wife when he caught her cheating on him. Then he turned her into a mannequin! Jerry arrives to save her but he realises he’s a mannequin! Thankfully that little reveal gives Molly enough time to attack Slausen and kill him.

Molly drives off to safety with her mannequin friends in tow.

How Slausen has telekinetic powers is a mystery. Why make molds of faces if you can just turn people into mannequins. WHY and HOW can someone turn people into mannequins? Magic? Is this a side effect of telekinesis?

Tourist Trap tries its best to be both silly and unsettling, but it mostly ends up more confusing than gritty. Slausen is clearly the killer from the get go and I don’t know why the movie pretends that it could be anyone else. It worked for Psycho because we had genuine belief that Mrs Bates was at home. There was little proof that Slausen’s brother existed, so thus, it was pretty damn clear he was the killer.

This is one of the few movies I think would actually benefit from a remake. The film has a certain era-charm that would be difficult to replicate. But a lot of the dialogue is difficult to understand (particularly Saulsen’s). Which makes me wonder if things had been explained but I was too stupid to hear them.