‘The Spiral Staircase’ is a film as twisted as its title. Only an hour long, it is foot down, full tilt gothic noir from start to finish, imaginative, creepy, scary as hell, the Hollywood machine in top gear: and this was a b picture!
|Readymade victim, Helen.|
Directed by German horror and thriller specialist, Robert Siodmak, ‘The Spiral Staircase’ is a film about a sick serial killer (is there any other kind?) who is obsessed with wiping out ‘imperfect’ young women in a small New England town. It’s just a matter of time before the psycho gets to Helen, a young maid struck mute as a result of a psychological trauma – in fact, it’s surprising he hasn’t got her already as, not being able to scream she’s a readymade victim.
Helen lives and works in a large, old dark house and is surrounded by odd bods and eccentrics. In fact, everyone in the town seems either cracked enough to be the killer or nice and innocent enough to provide a shock twist. The tension is palpable way before Helen is in actual physical peril, and the odd factor is racked up by point of view shots through the killers warped eyes. It’s actually quite disturbing. By the time we get to Helen being chased around the mansion we’re on the edge of our seats. Will she scream? Will she die? Maybe a bit of both?
|As the killer sees her.|
|Scream or die.|