Homicidal (1961)

87m, 7840 feet
35mm film, black and white, 1.85:1
mono, English

An American horror film directed by William Castle.


Miriam Webster is set to share her inheritance with her half brother Warren, who lives with his childhood guardian Helga in the old family mansion. Helga is confined to a wheelchair following a stroke and cared for her nurse Emily who has formed a strange relationship with Warren…


* = uncredited

Directed by: William Castle
© MCMLXI [1961] by William Castle Productions
Columbia Pictures Corporation presents
Produced by: William Castle
Associate Producer: Dona Holloway
Written by: Robb White
Assistant Director: Al Shenberg
Director of Photography: Burnett Guffey
Film Editor: Edwin Bryant
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
Sound Supervisor: Charles J. Rice
Sound: Lambert Day
Make-up Supervisor: Ben Lane
Art Director: Cary Odell
Set Decorator: Darrell Silvera

Glenn Corbett [Karl]
Patricia Breslin [Miriam Webster]
Eugenie Leontovich [Helga]
Alan Bunce [Dr Jonas]
Richard Rust [Jim Nesbitt]
James Westerfield [Adrim]
Gilbert Green [Lt Miller]
Jean Arless (Warren/Emily)
William Castle [host] *
Wolfe Barzell [Olie] *
Hope Summers [Mrs Adrim] *
Teri Brooks [Mrs Forest] *
Ralph Moody *
Joe Forte [clerk] *

Alternative Titles

Homicide – France
Homicidio – Spain
Mörderisch – West Germany
Den Mystiske knivstikker – Denmark

Extracts included in
100 Years of Horror: Maniacs (1996)
Psychette: William Castle and Homicidal (2002)
Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007)
Stephen King's World of Horror (1986)
Zotz! (1962)


Variety 21 June 1961 p.20
Producer-director William Castle lifts a choice morsel from headlines out of Scandinavia a decade ago to build the climax of his latest horror melo and backtrack his suspenseful narrative leading up to a surprise and chilling finish. Film, despite certain corny elements and a few misplaced laughs, has every appearance of a boxoffice hit in exploitation bookings where smart campaigns pay off. Castle again displays a forte for macabre entertainment in his handling of Robb White's definitive screenplay which carried all the ingredients for this type of fare. As in all films of this nature, audience isn't asked to swallow a completely believable tale; accept It for what it is, argue about it later but take it straight during Its unfoldment. There's a gimmick toward the end, a sudden interruption during a particularly suspenseful moment, In which a design is flashed on the screen with the words, “This is a fright break,” in which the audience is given 45 seconds to contain themselves. It's good for laughs, probably intended by Castle and White, a good mood piece and showmanship which builds to even greater suspense. […] Ending cannot be revealed here because it would dissipate its shock element, but would have benefitted by clearer exposition; Jean Arless makes her screen bow as the murderess, and is generally okay although there are occasions when her part doesn't ring true. Patricia Breslin delivers nicely as the half-sister, caught in a web which nearly destroys her, and Glenn Corbett handily enacts the druggist in love with her. Eugenie Leontovich as the old woman spins a neat characterization sans a word of dialog. Alan Bunce as a doctor, Richard Rust the bridegroom and James Westerfield the justice of the peace are competent. Castle, who appears in a prolog to set the mood, delivers strongly in his double assignment as producer-director and gets top backing down through the technical credits. Edwin Bryant's editing is sharp and fast, Burnett Guffey's photography and Hugo Friedhofer's music first-rate and Cary Odell's art direction in keeping. – from a review by Whit

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.28 no.334 (November 1961) pp.155-156
Though reputedly based on a real-life Scandinavian murder case, this horror film seems more dependent on Psycho for its inspiration, its old dark house setting, its bloody stabbings and its incredible sex-change solution. Just as plainly, it falls short of its model in leading performance (Jean Arless is uncomfortable as Emily, laughably so as Warren), clarity of exposition and sheer cinematic drive. A ham-fisted prologue in the form of a personal appearance by the producer-director, William Castle, indicates both his pretensions as a second Hitchcock and his inability to fulfil them: the cheapest of several laboured gimmicks is a 45-second Fright Break allowing faint-hearts their chance to leave the theatre. Technically the piece is otherwise competent enough to ensure its commercial success; for anyone unfamiliar with Psycho the plot cannot fail to be intriguing; while valuable performances are forthcoming from Glenn Corbett and Patricia Breslin as the lovers, Eugenie Leontovich as a paralysed victim, and especially Richard Rust as the overnight bellboy-bridegroom. – author not credited



  • Castle of Frankenstein no.10 p.42
  • The Daily Cinema no.8514 (25 September 1961) p.9 – review
  • The Film Daily vol.118 no.119 (22 Juns 1961) p.8 – credits, review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.165 no.34 (12 June 1961) p.3 – credits, review
  • Kine Weekly no.2817 (28 September 1961) p.19 – review
  • Midi-Minuit Fantastique no.8 (January 1964) p.78 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.28 no.334 (November 1961) pp.155-156 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.223 no.9 (17 June 1961) p.165 – review
  • Variety 21 June 1961 p.20 – credits, review (by Whit)


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) pp.141-142
  • The Columbia Checklist: The Feature Films, Cartoons, Serials and Short Subjects of Columbia Pictures, 1922-1988 by Len D. Martin p.144-145
  • Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982 by Michael R. Pitts pp.104-106
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.101
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.115
  • Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.200
  • by Walt Lee p.197 – credits
  • Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn pp.209-211
  • Step Right Up!… I'm Going to Scare the Pants Off America by William Castle pp.153-161