Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 3rd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1968
Director: Roy Boulting
Writer: Leo Marks, Roy Boulting, Roger Marshall
Cast: Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, Billie Whitelaw, Phyllis Calvert, Frank Finlay, Barry Foster, Salmaan Peerzada, Christian Roberts, Gretchen Franklin, Thorley Walters
DVD released: June 4th, 2007
Approximate running time: 118 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Optimum Releasing
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £12.99 ($23.40)
Synopsis: Martin is a trouble youth with an overbearing mother who treats him like a child. Martin has an alternate personality named Georgie that emerges whenever he feels vulnerable. One day while shopping Martin encounters a young woman named Susan who he quickly fixates on. Martin posing as Georgie works his way into Susan’s life. Feeling sorry for Georgie, Susan convinces her mother to allow him to stay with them until his father returns from Paris. The more time Susan spends with Georgie it becomes clearer that he is mental disturbed.
Twisted Nerve was co-written and directed by Roy Boulting whose other notable films include a trio of films with Peter Sellers Carlton-Browne of the F.O., There’s a Girl in My Soup and Heavens Above! Twisted Nerve stars Hayley Mills who rose to prominence as child actress while working for Disney on films like Pollyanna, The Parent Trap and That Darn Cat! In 1966 Haley Mills while working on the film The Family Way fell in love with the film’s director Roy Boulting who was thirty-three years her senior. Thirty five years after it was first released Twisted Nerve the film was brought back into the spotlight once again when director Quentin Tarantino used the film’s main theme in his 2003 film Kill Bill: Volume 1.
When it was first released forty years ago Twisted Nerve was a controversial and in many ways a film that was ahead of its time with its take on Mongolism and the mentally disturbed. Reportedly a pro-log for the film was added by the producers after it was felt that the film negatively portrayed those with Mongolism as mentally disturbed. The plot for the film centers around a young man named Martin who has a younger brother who suffers from Mongolism Martin’s mother afraid that her other son might also turn out the same way coddles him to the point that he suffers a psychotic break in which he invents a second personality Georgie. After this opening pro-log Martin’s brother is only referred to and not seen ever again. The story manages to walk a fine line without ever negatively portraying those with Mongolism.
Visually Roy Boulting creates a tense and suspenseful film. At nearly two hours the film paced evenly with no scene feeling padded or unnecessary. The films violence is mostly off camera with some of the aftermath show on camera. One of the films greatest strengths is composer Bernard Herrmann masterful score. The best use of the score is when Martin hums it as he follows Susan. The films standout performance is Hywel Bennett as Martin. When he switches into the character of Georgie he really shines giving a performance that ranks among the more memorable cinema psychopaths. Cast in the role of Susan is Hayley Mills who has an innocent quality to her that perfectly captures the essence of her character. The rest of the cast are all very good in their respective roles. Ultimately Twisted Nerve is an entertaining Hitchcockian like thriller that has lost some of its shock value over the years.
Optimum’s DVD release for Twisted Nerve frames the film in a full frame aspect ratio that slightly crops the films original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Overall the transfer is in great shape with colors and black levels.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Overall the audio sounds clear and evenly balanced. There are no audio defects. The weakest part of this release is that there is no extra content. Despite the lack of extra content Twisted nerve gets a satisfying DVD from Optimum Releasing.