Anatomy Of A Psycho (1961)

1961 – 75 minutes/fullscreen
Directed by Brooke L. Peters
DVD Official Website:
Madacy Entertainment Group, Inc.

Ronnie Burns
Pamela Lincoln
Darrell Howe 

This is the top bill of a Killer Creatures Double Feature DVD. Teamed up with Mario Bava’s superior Hatchet for the Honeymoon, this feature actually manages to hold its own. Director Peters had previously given us the wild film, The Unearthly where a mad scientist is trying to discover and manipulate a previously unknown gland that will help mankind achieve immortality. With Anatomy of a Psycho he delves into more intelligent, darker territory.

Ronnie Burns portrays a teenager with the worst kind of angst. His parents had left him, his sister and their older brother to their own devices many years ago. His older brother turned to the easy life of crime to raise his siblings. Because of his dedication to family, his younger brother looks at him as one who can do no wrong. Then a botched robbery leads to an innocent man’s murder and Ronnie’s brother is on a one-way ride to the gas chamber. All of this is pretty much explained in the first few minutes. Even the preview makes this seem like the main focus of the film. It’s not. Director Peters paints a noirish picture of a young man’s descent into madness, as he must face society, the same society that he blames for the wrongful death of his older brother.

Peters was probably given a script by someone to make what was basically supposed to be a lurid JD potboiler. Then he made this instead. The scenes of the brother in prison and being led to the gas chamber are shot in a minimalist style adding to the horror and tension of the moment where a man takes his last steps among the living. Even our main character is transformed into a crazed looking madman after an encounter with a group of punks that try to give him lip about his brother.

During the ensuing fight he is badly scarred on the right side of his face, giving him the appearance of the eternal sneer. Adding to his look of menace. During all of this his sister is just trying to make a normal life for the two of them. She sees it as a release, never satisfied with her older brother’s life of crime. She even has a boyfriend that she is considering matrimony with. Little does she know that her boyfriend’s father is the man that turned evidence that sent her brother to the gas chamber!

Shot on what was probably a miniscule budget, Brooke Peters gives us a film that at only 75 minutes, shoots through a complex storyline with an ending that even I didn’t see coming. It was a refreshing change of pace and a quality low budget film that deserves another look from the public as a true semi-classic.