Saturday 24 February 2018

What a carry on… Behind Locked Doors (1968)

The central premise of this film is the notion that scientific “research” could be conflated with the infantile sexual fantasies. The mad “scientist” at the heart of things wants to “experiment” on young women by having forced intercourse and, if they fail to meet his rather vague criteria, he has them frozen solid using some process that is actually less plausible than Kenneth Williams’ turning Joan Simms into a living showroom dummy in Carry on Screaming. The ending was also marginally less convincing than the British comedy and I did cry out “frying tonight” just for the heck of it…

Of course, Carry on… aimed to titillate through suggestion more than specifics and that’s where these films diverge. Like so many films of this period, the narrative feels like an excuse to set up some pervy happenings but at least, unlike some others, this film does contain some acting from actual actors.

 We begin at a disco party with the crease of corduroy and the static spark of woolly jumpers rubbing against nylon slacks in a remote countryside barn. There are lots of groovy guys and chicks with little inhibition raving the day away free from the censorious attentions of authority. But freedom comes at a price and one girl, a raven-haired beauty (natch) called Ann (Eve Reeves) is taken upstairs by a guy who proceeds to try and take things too far… He’s chased off by a middle-aged man who has been lurking… he is Dr Bradley (Daniel Garth) and the peak he sneaks at Ann as she gets dressed show he’s far from innocent, but he seems amiable enough

Back in the dance Ann and her pretty pal Terry (Joyce Danner) talk to the Doctor and, apart from looking like a younger version of Henry Kissinger – surely they notice that? – he leaves them with a good impression. When the two try to drive off in Ann’s car though it’s inexplicably non-functional and the Doc pops up to suggest that they could, er, stay at his place until the motor is fixed. The girls hike up to a very Scooby-Dooby mansion and accept tea with the Doc and his totally non-sinister sister Ida (Irene Lawrence).

Raven-haired Eve Reeves
They’re shown to their room, clearly unaware of the audience pleading for them to just run away but, by the time they find bars on the windows and their door locked… it’s far too late. A glimpse in the wardrobe reveals dozens of mod dresses… there’s a feeling that they’re not the first to stay at the house.

They are reassured by Ida… the door’s locked just because and well, all will be fine in the morning. This takes the pressure off enough for some good old-fashioned Sapphic sexual tension as Terry (ah, boy’s name…) casts meaningful glances at Eve’s pert body and holds her just that little bit tighter than a friend might. The two climb into bed and Terry takes her chances only to be gently rebuffed and, lie in back in frustration she shockingly, perhaps, has to console herself…

Terry holds on...
The girls try and escape but it’s all part of the game and whilst Terry is tied up in the experimentation room, the Doctor explains his cunning and rigorously-scientific discipline. He shows her compromising pictures of young women he has taken, all to be used to guarantee their silence after his procedures in which he attempts to find the perfect mate for his seriously-imperfect body and mind.

Then Evil Ida shows Ann a room in which tied-up Terry is forced to not only have sex with a man but an ‘orrible, creepy one… Seems the Doc’s procedure is just an excuse because, I can’t for the life of me see how this is science? After her ordeal, she and Ann explore escape routes only to find a cellar full of young women apparently frozen alive – trophies for the mad Doctor with their brutish handyman (Ivan Agar) worshiping one brunette. Terry makes a run for it and is chased down – Lurch is faster than he looks!

The doc gets agitated...
Then it’s Ann’s turn for the “treatment” and, bizarrely, this is played as a soft porn scene with the focus firmly on the actress of course… the Doc must be using some powerful hallucinogens.

Can the girl’s escape his evil clutches, will Lurch ever get to marry his beautiful brunette statue, what’s in all this for Ida, have the Doc and Henry Kissenger ever been seen in the same room and will Terry get to keep her splendid woollen jumper?!

Dusty Verdict: Behind Locked Doors is slightly frumpy sexploitation but has atmosphere and some genuine tension. This is helped by the performance of Joyce Danner in particular, she’s animated and eloquent with lines that would challenge many a Shakespearian and we share her revulsion with men on the evidence of this story. Eve Reeves is the less confidently-expressive although she also makes for a likeable heroine – innocent and less self-aware than her friend. You root for their escape when faced with Daniel Garth’s – literally – oily “Doctor” and his wonderfully wicked sister – well played by Irene Lawrence who lurks with marvellous malevolence!

The ending is predictably illogical and provides the poetic justice the story requires… it’s a bit of a bubble-gum psych fairytale and as Terry chats up a pretty girl at the next barn disco, Ann walks off to the fields with a darkly sexy dude… it’s been a coming of age experience for both. Nice enough if you can brush off the sexual assault, kidnap, torture, and the rest that is.

Charles Romine directs well with obviously limited resources and there is some solidly professional cinematography from Victor Petrashevic making the most of the locations and human resources…

It was produced by Stanley H. Brassloff   - who co-wrote with Charles Romine – who has some renown for this kind of work… it’s a guilty pleasure but if you suspend disbelief and moral judgement (everyone got paid?) if you like this sort of thing you’ll probably like Behind Locked Doors.

The film is available on DVD from all good online retailers but at "collectable" prices.


  1. I recently watched this film and was very surprised upon how well made and well acted of a film that it is,for I'm sure that we'll someday see BEHIND LOCKED DOORS receive a DVD/Blu Ray revival from the likes of Vinegar Syndrome,AGFA,or Code Red.

    1. I'd agree, it is very well put together and there are some professional performances especially from Joyce Danner and Irene Lawrence. Would be good to see restored - it's ambitious even if it over-reaches itself with the plot. That said, that's probably why we like these films in the first place! Thanks for reading. Paul