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Why William Castle's Strait-Jacket is the perfect Halloween movie

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Everett Collection

In the new film The Eyes of My Mother, the killing of a former surgeon on a remote farm leads to consequences that are as surprising as they are shocking — and which we have no intention of spoiling here. Suffice it to say that writer-director Nicolas Pesce’s debut movie is a highly memorable endeavor and one which finds inspiration in the gothically-inclined area of the horror genre mostly ignored by filmmakers in recent times.

“When I looked at the landscape of all of horror, the movies that I loved in the genre weren’t represented,” says Pesce, whose film stars Kika Magalhaes, Diana Agostini, and Paul Nazak, among others. “I grew up watching Hitchcock films, and anything with Joan Crawford, and all the Bill Castle movies, and Vincent Price. This section of gothic American horror hasn’t really been around for so long.” 

Pesce’s recommendation for the perfect movie to watch over Halloween? That would be 1964’s Strait-Jacket, which stars the legendary Crawford and was made by Castle, whose many other directing credits included 13 Ghosts and The Tingler (as well as Elvira’s recent choice for the ideal Halloween watch, House on Haunted Hill). 

“After being accused of murder, and a long stint in a mental institution, a mother comes home to her estranged daughter, and there is tension in the house — to say the least!” says Pesce, explaining the film’s plot. “It’s definitely a movie that was inspirational, to me, for Eyes. There’s a lot of stuff in there that has been repurposed and inspired a lot of other things. I always love finding the roots of all of these genre tropes and William Castle was the king of them.”

The Eyes of My Mother is released in theaters, on demand, on Amazon Video, and on iTunes, Dec. 2. You can see the trailers for Strait-Jacket and for Pesce’s film, below.