Strait-Jacket (1964)

3.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 7/10

So bad it is good, over-the-top Joan Crawford, some good visuals

Bad script, overacting, classic B-Movie fodder

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Strait-Jacket

Studio:  William Castle Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  January 19, 1964

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


I’ll take a whack at it!

Lucy Cutler Harbin (Joan Crawford) comes home to her husband (Lee Majors) and his girlfriend in bed, she hacks them to pieces with an axe in front of her daughter Carol.  Twenty years pass, and Lucy is released from the asylum.  She comes home to her daughter (Diane Baker) who is a sculptor and Lucy’s brother Bill (Leif Erickson), sister-in-law Emily (Rochelle Hudson), and their handyman Leo (George Kennedy) at their chicken farm.  Carol has a new fiancé named Michael Fields (John Anthony Hayes) and worries that he and his wealthy parents (Howard St. John and Edith Atwater) will judge her mother.  As Lucy tries to adjust to her new life, strange events begin to happen and new murders occur…is Lucy cured or is she crazy?

Directed by William Castle, Strait-Jacket is a cult, camp classic.  The movie was trashed upon its release but has since gained a cult following.  The story was written by Psycho’s author Robert Bloch.  The small appearance by Lee Majors as Lucy’s quickly dead husband marks his first big screen appearance.


The craziest dressing room ever.

The movie is the definition of camp.  It is over acted with the queen of over-acting Joan Crawford who despite overacting manages to make the role her own.  She towers over the other actors in every scene from her crazed intro to catfight ending and explanation.  The movie was originally planned for Joan Blondell who was injured before the movie began, but I can’t imagine anyone but Crawford making this picture work.

The movie actually looks quite good.  The style of shooting during most talking scenes is quite dull and standard, but some of the stylized shots like for the killings are quite good.  Castle is known as a gimmicky director and gave away cardboard axes for the movie.  Despite the gimmicks, he keeps the movie going regardless of the ridiculous concept.


It’s Crawford on Crawford action!

The story goes for a twist ending that is pretty obvious.  It would have actually been a real shocker if Crawford had done the killings.  It feels like a lot of pop-psychology and you can see definite ties to Bloch’s other success Psycho.  While Psycho is somewhat believable, Strait-Jacket is goofy fun…which is weird since it involves an axe murderer.

Strait-Jacket is a fun, quick watch.  It is gloriously bad, and it seems to know it.  The story is clever enough to keep you watching, and the ending sequence is crazy enough to worth sitting through the movie…if nothing else watch it for Crawford.  Another so-bad-it-is-good title!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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