Hidden Flick: Down The Rabbit Hole

Well, wrong as these things often go in fact and fiction. Towers isn’t being pushed easily into this little plot of murder, madness, and deception. She fears that her journalist boyfriend will eventually be tainted by his environment, go native, and become insane himself. At the beginning of the film, her overwrought pleadings to keep Barrett out of the mental hospital are supported with claims that his quest is self-serving and will eventually lead to his self-destruction, but no one thinks that other than her. Sometimes the scenes of her defiance appear a bit too prophetic and filled with foreshadowing as if the viewer is being told what is going to happen, and the director just follows through with that signpost to insanity step by step until Barrett’s mind cracks.

And that is exactly what writer, producer, and director Samuel Fuller did in this hidden classic from our pre-Beatles, pre-Easy Rider, artistic renaissance of the mid-to-late 1960s.

Ahh…the trick. Fuller has many, and he doesn’t stop at showing mild and polite crazy. No—the filmmaker goes FULL PSYCHO, and some of the scenes are chillingly realistic in their ability to conjure madness, illogical behavior, weird sexuality, and fear of the devise mentioned in the title, ‘shock treatment’ to sooth and completely tweak the mind.

Barrett gets sucked further and further down into the residue of a sane mind until he is nothing left but a shell of his former self. The Twilight Zone-like plot also features the wayward journalist learning the truth about the murder but the way he is able to handle that bit of choice news at the time that he finally finds out is symbolic of many of man’s dark pursuits over the centuries. The clichéd and fortune cookie-like questions pop up, but they ring true, nonetheless. Sure, you can have what you want, but what price are you willing to pay to gain that morsel of truth? Can you slide down the hole into another world in pursuit of the truth, and return as the same person? Is The Truth really important when it costs a man’s soul, his sanity, and the girl he uses to attain it?

Randy Ray

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