Grip of the Strangler (1958)

35mm film, black and white
mono, English

A British horror film directed by Robert Day.

Plot Summary

Writer James Rankin investigates the case of the The Haymarket Strangler who terrorised London 20 years before and comes to the conclusion that the wrong man was executed for the crime. But he becomes possessed by the spirit of the killer and begins a new campaign of terror, replicating the Strangler's crimes.


* = uncredited

Directed by: Robert Day
© MCMLVII [1957] by Producers Associates Limited
Eros Films Ltd presents. Producers Associates present
Executive Producer: Richard Gordon *
Produced by: John Croydon
Production Manager: Ronald Kinnoch *
Screenplay: Jan Read and John C. Cooper [real name: John Croydon]
Original story [Stranglehold] by Jan Read
Assistant Director: Douglas Hickox
Continuity: Hazel Swift
Lighting Cameraman: Lionel Banes
Camera Operator: Leo Rogers
Editor: Peter Mayhew
Music Composed by: Buxton Orr
Conducted by: Frederick Lewis
Sound Recordist: H.C. Pearson
Dubbing Editor: Terry Poulton
RCA Sound Recording
Dress Supervisor: Anna Duse
Make-up: Jim Hydes
Hairdresser: Barbara Barnard
Special Effects: Les Bowie
Set Designer: John Elphick
Produced & recorded at Walton Studios, Walton on Thames

Boris Karloff (James Rankin/Dr Richard Tennant)
Jean Kent (Cora [Seth])
Elizabeth Allan (Barbara Rankin)
Anthony Dawson (Supt. Burk)
Vera Day (Pearl)
Tim Turner (Dr [Kenneth] McColl)
Diane Aubrey (Lily [Rankin])
Max Brimmell (turnkey)
Leslie Perrins (prison governor)
Jessica Cairns (asylum maid)
Dorothy Gordon (Hannah)
Desmond Roberts (Dr Johnson)
Roy Russell (medical supt) [credited in opening titles but not end titles]
Derek Birch (hospital supt.)
Peggy Ann Clifford (Kate) [credited in opening titles but not end titles]
John Fabian (young blood)
Joan Elvin (can-can girl) [credited in opening titles but not end titles]
Diane Aubrey (Lily)
Michael Atkinson [Styles] *
Robert Day *
John G. Heller [male nurse] *
George Hirste [lost property man] *
Arthur Mullard [male nurse] *
George Spence [hangman] *

Alternative Titles

The Haunted Strangler – USA
Lo strangolatore folle
– Italy

Extracts included in
78/52 (2017)


TV Times 17-23 January 1981 pp.34, 39
Literate horror thriller which brought Boris Karloff back to English films after more than 20 years away. Jan Read contributes a fascinating plot involving a novelist investigating an old murder case, and there is a splendidly atmospheric ending (heightened by Lionel Banes' vivid black-and-white photography) with Karloff in a graveyard – unravelling the mystery at last, to his own cost. The great horror star himself is in splendid form.



  • New Musical Express 17 January 1981 p.6 – short review (On the box by Monty Smith)
  • TV Times 17-23 January 1981 pp.34, 39 – review


  • The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon by Tom Weaver pp.22-40 – illustrated credits, synopsis, interview with Richard Gordon
  • by Walt Lee p.186 – credits
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.118