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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, July 17, 2023

Sweet, Sweet Rachel (1971)

The made for television movies continue. This time around we have a supernatural story involving psychic behavior and a killer that uses their power to commit murder! The movie starts off with a man dealing tarot cards and trying to divine something from them. His name is Paul and suddenly he sees his lovely wife calling for him outside some French doors. He runs to her and ends up diving right out of the second story window. That seems odd. When his wife, the titular Rachel, comes home she is shocked to find him dead! Later she starts to hear voices, hallucinate, and gets a weird phone call. To ensure that she isn’t losing her mind she goes to see a special doctor, one who studies psychic phenomena. His name is Dr. Darrow. 

Darrow hypnotizes her and gets more details that she doesn’t necessarily remember otherwise. He is also attacked and almost jumps thru some glass himself. Along with his blind friend, who also possesses second sight, he starts digging. This leads him to Rachel’s creepy aunt Lillian and her family. They seem awfully protective of her so much so that they cut Rachel off from the help that she was searching for. This raises some red flags with Darrow who like a dog with a bone won’t let it go. Eventually another person dies, Rachel thinks she is responsible, and Darrow sorts it all out before the end credits roll. 

Before I start I need to warn you all that there will be some spoilers coming. I’ll try to keep them at a minimum, but I need to mention them to explain why I sort of liked this one. Sweet, Sweet Rachel is an interesting movie. I will warn you that it is a very slow burn and leans heavily into the late sixties and early seventies obsession with psychic powers. To that end the movie takes itself very seriously, which I’m not sure has aged well over the last fifty plus years. Still, I did enjoy the mystery that they create with the murders. At it’s core this movie is a who done it with a supernatural twist. That said we do find out later that one of the murders was an old fashioned poisoning. You also get an obvious suspect in Aunt Lillian, and I was locked in on her being the issue. But in a nice twist she is a murder victim which tosses the entire story into doubt. I dug that. 

The cast is decent. Stefanie Powers, a seventies television mainstay, is the lovely Rachel. She isn’t given much to do other than be distraught that is. Still, she does that very well and plays her part in moving the story along. John Hillerman of Magnum P.I. fame has a blink and you’ll miss it appearance as the medical examiner. There are also a lot of other familiar faces who mostly just worked in television but were working actors that much like Powers do their jobs and move things along. As a giant nerd for the movie Stanley, it was awesome to see Chris Robinson as the blind psychic Carey. This is another spoiler so be warned. The late great Pat Hingle (Maximum Overdrive) starts off as the put upon husband of Lillian but ends up being the villain which was a cool twist. 

This isn’t a perfect movie. Like I’ve already mentioned it does have some pacing issues. The obsession with psychic phenomenon as well as the big finale with a psychic showdown was a bit cheesy. It did remind me of that episode of South Park but with out all the goofy pew pew pew nana nana nana sounds. If you haven’t seen it, then check this out. That aside I think that Sweet, Sweet Rachel is worth a look. The movie is only an hour and eleven minutes long and is available on YouTube. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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