The Haunted Strangler
The Haunted Strangler (also known as Grip of the Strangler and originally titled The Judas Hole) is a 1958 British horror film directed by Robert Day. It was adapted from "Stranglehold", a story which screenwriter Jan Read had written specially for Boris Karloff, and was shot back to back with producer Richard Gordon's Fiend Without a Face, with both later being released as a double feature by MGM.
|The Haunted Strangler|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Day|
|Produced by||John Croydon|
|Written by||John Croydon (as "John C. Cooper")|
|Based on||an original story by Jan Read|
|Music by||Buxton Orr|
|Edited by||Peter Mayhew|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (US)|
Eros Films (UK)
|Box office||$650,000 (on double bill)|
In Victorian era-London, Edward Styles is accused of being the notorious Haymarket Strangler, the brutal killer of five women. Twenty years after he is tried and executed for these crimes James Rankin (Karloff), a novelist and social reformer, launches an investigation to prove that Styles was innocent. His search for clues leads him first to the sleazy Judas Hole music hall, where the Strangler picked his victims from the resident can-can dancers and loose women, and then to the prison cemetery of Newgate where Styles was buried - in order to exhume his body. When the killings start again, Rankin's theory seems to be vindicated. However his growing obsession with the case signals a most unwelcome revelation as to the true identity of the murderer.
- Boris Karloff as James Rankin
- Jean Kent as Cora Seth
- Elizabeth Allan as Barbara Rankin
- Anthony Dawson as Superintendent Burk
- Vera Day as Pearl
- Tim Turner as Dr. Kenneth McColl
- Diane Aubrey as Lily Rankin
- Max Brimmell as Newgate Prison Turnkey
- Leslie Perrins as Newgate Prison Governor
- Jessica Cairns as Asylum Maid
- Dorothy Gordon as Hannah
- Desmond Roberts as Dr. Johnson
The film was originally to be called Stranglehold and was written by Jan Read, a friend of Boris Karloff's. He gave the script to producer Richard Gordon, who was looking to make a horror movie in the UK. Gordon set up Amalgamated Productions with Charles Vetters and had started providing US funding and talent for B pictures shot in Britain.
Amalgamated went into partnership with British producer John Croydon and negotiated a deal with distributor Eros Films who agreed to guarantee 70% of the film's budget after delivery of the final product. The remaining 30% of the budget was provided by the National Film Finance Corporation.
The agreement with Eros was conditional on Amalgamated providing a second film, so Gordon arranged to make Fiend Without a Face back to back with a different cast and director. MGM picked up both films for release. Gordon later estimated the cost of the two movies together was approximately £80,000 exclusive of the costs of imported American stars.
Read's script was rewritten by John Croydon who brought in the idea of making the killer a Jack the Ripper-style murderer and having the transformation be physical (in the original draft Rankin was only possessed by the killer's spirit).
Executive producer Richard Gordon and interviewer Tom Weaver talk about the making of The Haunted Strangler on the audio commentary of the Criterion DVD, available as part of the 2007 set "Monsters and Madmen".
According to MGM records this film and Fiend Without a Face together earned $350,000 in the US and Canada and $300,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit to the studio of $160,000.
- John Hamilton, The British Independent Horror Film 1951-70 Hemlock Books 2013 p 29-34
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 410-412
- Tom Weaver, The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon, Bear Manor Media 2011 p 26-40
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