“Two on a Guillotine” is the kind of movie that Warner Archive “ the burn-on-demand arm of Warner Home Video “ is perfect for: old, obscure and ripe for cult potential. Directed by actor William Conrad, the 1964 black-and-white shocker is a low-budget affair that’s short on actual scares, but long on fun.
Magician/illusionist The Great Duquesne (Cesar Romero) vows his greatest trick ever will be to come back from the dead. Shortly after the opening credits, he’s a goner, and Cassie, his two-decades-estranged daughter (Connie Stevens), is set to inherit his entire estate. All she has to do in spend seven days and nights in his spooky mansion.
Doing so is no easy feat, as Duquesne has rigged light switches, closets and the like with practical jokes designed to frighten the pants off her. Making her stay more comfy is Dean Jones as a reporter sniffing out a story, but can’t help but fall in love. Their courtship dialogue is so cloyingly cute, it’s nauseating.
Inoffensive and free of gore, save for a rather tame prologue, “Guillotine” is cast in the they-don’t-make-’em-like-they-used-to mold. It has just enough gimmicky booby traps to satisfy fans of William Castle, and that B level is one from which it never strays. Oh, Conrad may try, but a dream sequence proves he’s no Alfred Hitchcock.
Complete with a trip to a go-go bar and amusement park, plus a Stevens song on the soundtrack, the nicely shot “Guillotine” manages to wring a fair amount of suspense at the end. “Rod Lott