Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Collector (1965)



"Freddie, a socially withdrawn bank clerk and butterfly collector, decides to expand to collecting human specimens. That's where art student Miranda Grey comes in. Miranda matches wits with Freddie the icy psychopath."

Ignore the DVD sleeve as this movie had nothing to do with Buffalo Bill from "The Silence of the Lambs". Even though there is a very slight possibility that "The Collector" may have influenced Thomas Harris (either as a movie or in the form of the original novel by John Fowles), the story is a lot different and the motivation of the kidnapper is even more bizarre than wanting to fatten girls up to make a costume out of their skins.

In this 1965 thriller by William Wyler, Terence Stamp plays a butterfly collector named Freddie who, after winning the football pools, buys a house and then decides that the easiest way to get companionship is by kidnapping girls. All he wants is someone to love him, but he's obviously as nutty as a fruitcake with it.

For the purpose of this story, Freddie kidnaps Miranda who is apparently an art student of some kind. It's been so long since I last watched this movie that I can't remember what she was studying, but it probably isn't important. I'm doing this review from memory because I'm too lazy to rewatch the movie, and I doubt that anyone will read this anyway.

Samantha Eggar plays Miranda. If you don't know who she is then you really need to check out "The Uncanny" (1977), "The Brood" (1979) or "Curtains" (1983). She was never primarily a horror actress, but she was certainly in a few of them which are easily available to buy on DVD. I honestly thought she had died a couple of years ago, but it seems that she is still very much alive and doing a lot of television (and even computer game voices) rather than movies now.

Anyway, I suppose you want to know if "The Collector" is a good horror movie or not? Well, it's not really a horror movie if you are expecting scares, blood and guts, or anything else which you wouldn't find in a very '60s thriller. Even though I used to really love this as a movie rather than a part of the horror genre, I'll be the first to admit that it's a bit slow and all very stagey.


I know for a fact that the youth of today would not make it through "The Collector" without a lot of complaining since it's two hours long with hardly any action. I first saw "The Collector" when I was a child and far too young to appreciate what was going on in it too, but I remembered enough of it to want to track it down on VHS many years later.

A lot of things were different to how I remembered them. I thought that Freddie really did love Miranda even though the whole set-up indicated that it wasn't really a good kind of love. It's more about control and hatred of everything which she stood for. His desire to be accepted by someone of her middle class now that he'd changed from working class to nouveau riche seemed to have a lot to do with his psychosis too.

I also mistakenly thought that Miranda eventually did fall in love with Freddie. Clearly, that's not the case as she tries everything in the book to escape from him. Give or take a bit of "Stockholm Syndrome" (or traumatic bonding), there isn't a lot to indicate that Freddie's experiment is anything other than a failure.

Not to spoil it for you, but the plot is reused in a more perverted form by "Grotesque" (2009), an extreme Japanese horror movie which has notoriously been banned in the UK. Allegedly, if the censors had paid attention to the end of "The Collector" in 1965, it would never have seen the light of day either.

If you have the attention span of a gnat then I don't recommend "The Collector" to you at all. If you like more psychological thrillers involving only two characters doing lots of talking then you'll probably love it.

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