B Movie Glory: Charles Winkler’s Disturbed

The horror genre has this hilarious unwritten rule that the head doctor of any asylum featured in a narrative simply must be far crazier than any of the patients and Charles Winkler’s Disturbed definitely checks out in that category. Malcolm McDowell stars here as the psychiatrist in question, an amoral basket case with a nasty habit of snatching female patients from their beds at night, drugging and raping them until one such atrocity ends in death, and he seeks to cover up his nocturnal escapades. When one would be victim (Pamela ‘Teresa Banks’ Gidley) takes a fatal plunge off the roof while running from he thinks he’s got away with it… until she literally comes back and starts haunting him. This allows McDowell to do his trademark loony bin routine and slowly lose it bit by bit, chewing more and more scenery with each new scene. Is he nuts? Is her ghost really there? How much were their paycheques to star in this trash? Not to be a hard ass but this really is sleazy, bottom of the barrel shock value trash and the only real reason to check it out is, naturally, McDowell. His Dr. Russell is truly an unhinged creation and it’s fun watching him between unorthodox group therapy sessions, whacked out hallucinations and his eventual grisly comeuppance. The film itself is unabashed bottom feeding swill but there’s other familiar faces like Irwin Keyes, Priscilla Pointer, Clint Howard and Geoffrey Lewis to spice things up. The highlight of the film is when a nurse tells McDowell he needs professional help to which he triumphantly replies “I AM professional help!!” and starts cackling like a witch. Sure, bud.

-Nate Hill

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