WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR **
Directed by Joseph Cates. Starring Sal Mineo, Juliet Prowse, Jan Murray.
Horror, USA, 90 mins, cert TBC.
Released in 1965, WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR, wasn’t screened in the UK until over 40 years later due to being initially rejected by British censors. Although it has a sleazy edge to it, it is none the less hard to see precisely why for there is little by way of overt sex or violence. In fact, there isn’t much to see here at all.
It opens with a haunting song that asks the titular question (if it can be called that due to the lack of final punctuation) before a young girl falls down some stairs clutching said Teddy Bear. The significance of this comes later, for the film then shifts focus to Norah (Juliet Prowse), a nightclub host who is being stalked on the phone by an unknown man. The scenes are slightly reminiscent of the opening of SCREAM, although it doesn’t build to anything more than unpleasant comments from the caller.
As to who that individual is, that is where the mystery comes in although the small cast limits the possibilities. There is a voyeuristic gaze to proceedings, hardly surprising given the plot, with graphic quality utilised to demonstrate the stalkers state of mind. Yet while this may evoke memories of REAR WINDOW, the slow-burning nature, fragmented approach to the narrative and lack of meaningful development is very disengaging.
Extended tracking sequences are very heavy-handed and stretch out the slender running time all the while exposing the limitations of the script.
Although proceedings do reach a natural ending that is perhaps more predictable now than at the time of the release of the film, it equally struggles to tie up loose ends. Not that, by that point, the audience will really care that much.
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