If you were ever wondering where Quentin Tarantino stole Kill Bill’s whistling theme from; this is it. That music is some of composer Bernard (Psycho) Herrmann’s best work. It’s genuinely creepy and unnerving; which is a good way to describe Twisted Nerve.
Susan (Hayley Mills) is a sexy librarian who befriends the meek, mentally retarded “Georgie” (Hywel Bennett). Little does she know, Georgie is actually a suave psychopath named Martin, who has a split personality. After Susan spurns an awkward love making pass from Georgie, he goes nuts and kills a couple of people before setting his sights on her.
The flick begins with a warning: “Ladies and Gentlemen, in lieu of the controversy that’s already been aroused, the producers of this film wish to re-emphasize what is already stated in the film: That there is no established scientific connection between mongolism and psychotic and criminal behavior.” Even in the 60’s people were touchy about the subject of the mentally challenged I guess.
Twisted Nerve moves at a deliberate pace and at 112 minutes, is probably about 20 minutes too long for it to achieve it’s maximum entertainment potential. That said; I really dug this flick because it spent a lot of time with the killer so you could see him plotting and scheming away. Then when you see him pull the wool over the other characters’ eyes, you really appreciate the skill and depravity it took. In the end, it was hard to tell if he really was a mongoloid with a chromosomal problem and a split personality or if he was just pretending, but that kind of ambiguity is what made the film refreshing.
Director Ray Boulting films everything with a lot of pizzazz. There is always an abundance of bright light and cheery colors which is cool because most of the film is so dark (metaphorically speaking). I think Hitchcock would’ve been proud of the murder sequences too. (The fact that he hired Herrmann to do the score is the big tip-off that Boulting was trying to ape The Master.)
The biggest reason you should watch Twisted Nerve is because of Hayley Mills. She is one stone cold fox in this movie. There was a couple times where she was dripping wet in a bikini and/or getting dressed and/or wearing something skimpy that sent my blood racing. She definitely grew up since her Parent Trap days; that's for sure.