Chet (Darrell Howe) is a brooding juvenile delinquent whose brother gets sent to the gas chamber. He starts drinking like a fish (“Easy man, it’s not going out of style!”), flips his lid, and sets out to avenge his brother’s death. Chet gets his gang together and they put potato sacks over their heads and rough up the son of the D.A. who prosecuted his brother. Next he burns down the house of the judge that sentenced his brother. Then things get complicated when Chet learns that his sister is dating the son of the key witness whose testimony sent his brother away.
Howe was yet another one of those actors who watched Rebel Without a Cause one too many times. He tries for all he’s worth to emulate James Dean in the scenes where he wigs out and although he’s no James Dean (heck, he isn’t even Jimmy Dean), he isn’t bad and fares a lot better than most of the Dean imitators that cropped up in all these teen angst movies from the era.
Anatomy of a Psycho was advertised as a horror film (it’s not) so some viewers will be disappointed to learn that the character of Chet isn’t really a “psycho” per se, just a misguided youth with a taste for revenge. (I think the title was changed just to cash in on Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder and Hitchcock’s Psycho.) It’s okay though, because it’s still a better than average juvenile delinquent flick. Things get a little bogged down when the film switches gears and becomes a courtroom drama and the ending kinda fizzles out; but director Brooke L. Peters (who also helmed the mini-classic, The Unearthly) really delivers the goods whenever Chet is dishing out his brand of juvenile justice.