Twisted Nerve (1968)

Twisted Nerve (1968), directed by Roy Boulting.

Young Martin has an overly fond mother, a stepfather he hates, and a retarded brother hidden away in a special home. He shoplifts and sits up at night with muscle magazines, admiring himself in a mirror and reading Psychopathia Sexualis.

Meeting a pretty college girl, he pretends to be retarded himself and insinuates himself into her mother's boarding house, which becomes a staging ground for bloody vengeance against his enemies. And he'd really like to get into the daughter's pants...

I found this one easy to like. It would be a good companion to Peeping Tom (1960) and Frenzy (1972). The director shares Hitch's love for interior architecture and all the angles you can get on stairways. We don't sympathize with the killer as much as Hitchcock would have us do.

Hayley Mills, last seen in Whistle Down the Wind (1961), is 22 here, very pretty in the short skirts and sunny mod outfits of the period. The 60s fashion look is well done without going full Austen Powers. She later married the director.

Bernard Herrmann's whistling theme was reused by Tarantino in Kill Bill.

Leo Marks, a cryptographer during WW2, wrote both this and the controversial Peeping Tom (1960) which pretty much ended Michael Powell's career. This one was supposedly controversial as well: it starts with a public service announcement denying the linkage of Martin's brother's Downs Syndrome (then called "mongolism") with Martin's murderous psychosis.

George Sylvester Viereck, "Slaves":

No puppet master pulls the strings on high
Proportioning our parts, the tinsel and the paint.
A twisted nerve, a ganglion gone awry,
Predestinates the sinner and the saint.

My copy is a DVD-R from Sinister Cinema. The aspect ratio has been cropped from 1.66 to 1.33. The first few minutes have a logo way up in the image but it vanishes after a while.