Frenzy - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Frenzy Reviews

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Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2012
Employing several Hitchcockian devices, Frenzy is a terrific thriller with a wry sense of humor. His return to London to film this story in 1973 reinvigorated the master of suspense. Frenzy features more familiar storytelling than the previous few films, critical and box office disappointments. The audience discovers the killer's identity early on, an innocent man is accused, and food is used as a comic device. The smooth "necktie killer" is infatuated with women linked to the accused. On this point, I am reminded of similar plots in Eastwood's Tightrope and Bruce Willis' Striking Distance, both released years after Frenzy. Also, the handsome, charming killer played by Barry Foster reminds me of Ted Bundy.

Frenzy feels like a fresh re-take on many earlier Hitchcock films, among them 1943's Shadow of a Doubt. Also, the killer's mislaid tie pin is reminiscent of the cigarette lighter in Strangers on a Train. The most obvious update is the level of sex, nudity, and graphic violence. This R rated film graphically displays what earlier films could only hint at. Featuring palpable tension throughout and Hitchcock's trademark dark humor, Frenzy is an excellent film. It may deserve more than an 80, but I'm awarding that score in relation to his masterpieces.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2012
Frenzy is the most underrated Hitchcock masterpiece, and works on every level of suspense, cinematic brilliance, sparkling British humor and perverse misanthropy. It was the elderly and ailing maestro's return to his home town of London after more than 30 years in Hollywood. Still the film feels authentically British, features no major movie stars, but some superb theater actors of the 70's. Frenzy has few sympathetic characters and has been accused of misogyny. The males (including the innocent protagonist) are mostly blind, selfish pigs and its women (with one exception) are far more sympathetic, brave and interesting. On the down side, the film does indeed recycle many of Hitch's favorite themes and techniques, and if you've see a lot of the master's oeuvre, you may feel you're seeing more of the same. To me, this is a pure distillation of everything he does well and wants to say as an artist (he died only a few years later and made only one more unsucessful film, Family Plot). It's not a happy message, since this world is full of selfish self aborbed people who allow evil to happen through their indifference. Plus, this story is much more coherent than some of Hitch's more acclaimed later flicks, like The Birds, probably because his collaborator is the great thriller playwright Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth).It's the story of a 'necktie' rapist serial killer, the fruit broker Rusk (Barry Foster) and his innocent unemplyed loser friend Blaney (Jon Finch aka Polanski's Macbeth) who is set up to take the heat for the crime. The Scotland Yard inspector (Alec McCowan) is led by the nose by the charming and slick Rusk, who has targeted the women in Blaney's life so his trusting mate can take the rap. The targets (among many others) are Blaney's kind and capable ex-wife and his trusting barmaid girlfriend. To defend Hitch of the accusation of misogyny, the rapes and killings are not at all titillating. There is only one crime that is graphically depicted and it is horrifying and respectful of the victim's humanity. Not as virutosic as the Psycho shower scene, though similar, it's an excellent, harrowing piece of cinema. Even more affecting is the second crime, which isn't shown. Just as the victim is lured by Rusk into his pad, the camera pulls away, down two flights of stairs, out into the street on a huge crane, where life goes on indifferently outside. No music. It's perhaps the most tragic and affecting shot in all of Hitchock and makes me want to cry.Another highlight is the potato truck scene, where the killer has dumped a body and is trying to remove from her rigor mortis hands an incriminating piece of evidence, It's done with extreme close ups and hand held shots and is hilarious, gross and tragic.The comedy in the film is mostly delightful It includes Hitch's ultimate rejection of gourmet cooking and pretention, as the Scotland Yard cop's wife tries to spice up their bland marriage with inedible gourmet food, which looks repulsive. The poor man just wants bangers and mash. The misogynist rap can possibly be laid here, though the wife seems much more perceptive than her husband about the actual murderer. The film shows a grungy and desaturated colored London full of rotting fruit and depressing locations. Though much of it is set in Covent Garden, it's the Covent Garden of the early 70's, not the tourist trap of today, a crowded place of rotting produce and sweaty Londoners. In any case, I would rate this in the top 10 of Hitchcock, and if you're a fan and haven't seen it, do so.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2012
One of the great Hitchcock films, and it doesn't take long for him to make his guess appearance in this one. A innocent man is being blamed for the necktie murders in London, and his friend is the real killer. Film comes with many a twist and turns that will even now after all these years keep you on the edge of your seat. 5 stars 3-10-12
Super Reviewer
November 13, 2011
Hitchcock's most brutal and explicit film, this is his late masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2011
Brilliantly-crafted, dark, and morbid thriller. It's one of those great classic thrillers where all of the information is given right up front and making us wait to see how it all plays out. Superb performances across the board, as well as some obvious fantastic direction. Not only is it shocking and often violent (especially for Hitchcock), but it's also ironic and extremely funny. That doesn't always work, but in this case, it works incredibly well. A fantastic piece of work by one of the great masters.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
HItchcock's most horrific movie of all. It's no Psyho, but it's still a good movie, it's very updated and 70s. I enjoyed it, and if you're a Hitchcock fan you should check it out.
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2010
Frenzy is notable in Hitchcock's oeuvre solely because it's his only movie where you see titty. The sexual violence on display here is pretty shocking; though rape is something that Hitchcock has often implied in his work, nothing he's done has compared to the visual reality of it. That said, the mystery isn't all that compelling, there's nothing special about his composition, and it's difficult to get behind the characters. The performances are solid, and it's refreshing to see him cast people who aren't the epitome of Hollywood beauty. His villain just doesn't seem up to snuff here and you never see much of a reason to care about the angry, dull protagonist.

Definitely worth watching as a turn for the different in HItch's filmography - though it is surprisingly long for such a shallow film, it remains captivating on a basic human level. This might make an interesting exploration into cinema's role as a moral guardian or cathartic outlet (seeing dark, evil things perpetrated on screen assuages our own need to approach them in real life), especially since this was exceptionally racy for 1972. Even as one of his weaker movies, it still acquits itself pretty well.
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2010
I think it‚??s actually a step back for Hitchcock. Instead of doing something close to his style, it seems like he was trying to replicate his admirers. A lot of it just comes off as silly because it‚??s just too gory for what you‚??re used to seeing from him and honestly it‚??s kind of low. What Hitchcock always does well is psychological horror/thrillers, this would‚??ve been a far better film if he had just stuck with that. It‚??s also highly predictable, which is really a blow to Hitchcock‚??s storytelling.
Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2009
More convincing & less stupid than some of Hitch's other movies but still nothing special
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2006
This is a fairly gruesome, explicit latter-day Hitchcock film that's definitely worth watching. It comes off as a welcome surprise in terms of content compared to previous works, and I really liked that. The blacker than black(and British) humor makes it all the more better on top of that.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2007
Hitchcock was definitely a Director ahead of his time, just imagine the kind of films he would be directing now if he could.

In Frenzy, Hitchcock builds up the characters before the big part of the story unleashes. A few familer faces, such as Bernard Cribbings, Billie Whitelaw etc.

The plot, I should imaginewas quite sinister in it's day and still makes really good viewing now.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2007
Any Hitchcock is worth seeing and this one has its good points but there is an ugliness to it that detracts.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2007
The darkest side of the genius was fully flourished in this rambunctious, violent, brutal and yet bizarrely amusing thriller. the last great Hitchcock film.
Super Reviewer
½ May 10, 2007
British Giallo...Hitchcock finally being able to show, in delightfully grizzly detail, all of the quirks and fetishes that had laid under the surface in his previous films
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2007
"Frenzy" was Alfred Hitchcock's next-to-last film. And though it's not a great classic like "Psycho" and "North by Northwest", it's still a very good movie. After making mostly American movies for four decades, Hitchcock returned to his native Britain to make "Frenzy". It's about a series of murders that's devastating London. These murders have two things in common: 1) The victims are all women; and 2) they're all raped and then strangled with a neck-tie. When a marriage counselor is murdered this way, the police suspect the woman's ex-husband is the culprit. But actually the husband is innocent, and is forced to hide out from the cops. "Frenzy" has all the usual Hitchcock elements: thrills, suspense, comedy, and Hitchcock's cameo appearence. The two best scenes in the movie are the hilarious moments when the police inspector (who's heading up the investigation of the neck-tie murders) is served two gourmet dinners by his wife. These scenes are very funny. The comic moments is what gives "Frenzy" a edge over Hitchcock's previous film "Topaz". Plus, it's a more entertaining thriller.
Super Reviewer
½ August 4, 2007
An edgy Hitchcock thriller with an engaging plot and tense scenes. I'll never forget the classic reverse-tracking shot which leads out out of the apartment building onto the street.
Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2006
Not exactly up to Hitchcock's best. He returns to Britain, only to make something that resembles an overlong TV movie. The performances are hardly special and the story is also very simplistic. Very brave though to reveal killers identity halfway through.
Super Reviewer
½ January 14, 2013
A serial killer (Foster), known as the neck-tie killer, is terrorizing London. When he murders the ex-wife of his friend (Finch), the police wrongly assume Finch to be the man responsible, thanks to several witnesses who heard the couple arguing the previous night. Seeking help from various friends, Finch finds himself betrayed by most, including Foster who notifies the police of his whereabouts. Eventually the Scotland Yard inspector responsible for Finch's arrest (McCowen) slowly comes to realize he may have captured the wrong man, thanks to the insistence of his wife (Merchant).
In the late sixties, the concept of what was considered acceptable to be shown on cinema screens had changed radically. Movies like 'Bonnie & Clyde' and 'Midnight Cowboy' portrayed violence in far more graphic and realistic terms than cinema-goers had ever seen before. The 'X' rating was introduced for this new wave of adult cinema, and, rather than turning away audiences, it become a huge selling point. An X-cert told audiences to expect a racy night out.
Sex and violence had suddenly become accepted in Hollywood, but only when kept apart from each other. Sexual violence was still considered taboo in America, leading several film-makers to relocate to Britain if they wished to explore such themes. Thanks mainly to Hammer films, whose vampire films had been gleefully mixing sex and violence throughout the sixties, such a taboo was nonexistent in Britain. This allowed Kubrick and Peckinpah to include brutal rape scenes in 'A Clockwork Orange' and 'Straw Dogs', something they couldn't have hoped to get away with back in the States. Wishing to exploit this new tolerance, Hitchcock returned to his native London for the first time since 1950's 'Stage Fright'.
The rape scene in 'Frenzy' may not be as notorious as those seen in Kubrick and Peckinpah's films (both of which later received lengthy bans when the UK turned conservative in the late seventies) but it's every bit as savage. Though it features the bared breasts of a body double, it's relatively inexplicit, but Hitch's use of extreme close-ups make it an uncomfortable view. We see every bit of frustrated anger on Foster's face, every bit of fear and resignation on that of his victim. Had the film been made by anyone other than Hitchcock, I suspect it may have ended up on the infamous UK "Video Nasties" list a decade later.
'Frenzy' is the master's last great work, making up for both the pair of duds which preceded it and the turkey which followed. It features some bravura film-making which distinguishes it from the low-rent British thrillers of the time. The most famous moment, in film-making terms, comes when Foster leads a victim into his apartment. As the couple enter, rather than following them inside, the camera slowly descends back down the stairs and out into the noisy London street below. The audience knows the victim's fate thanks to Foster's use of the line "you're my type of woman", a phrase he uttered before the earlier graphic murder. Another simple yet brilliant moment comes when the verdict is being delivered at Finch's trial. Hitch positions the camera outside the courtroom door. We can see the judge speaking but can't hear him until a police officer satisfies both his own and our curiosities by slightly opening the door just as the verdict is delivered. Hitchcock was never one to allow his films to be polluted by unnecessary dialogue.
Much has been written about the influence the director's wife, Alma Reville, had on his creative work. It's said she would often be the deciding factor when Hitch found himself questioning the validity of some of his artistic choices. 'Frenzy's subplot, involving a Scotland Yard inspector's wife convincing him he arrested the wrong man, seems to be inspired by the director's own marital relationship. Like Hitchcock himself, the inspector enjoys a good hearty meal but is denied this by his wife who insists on experimenting with haute-cuisine.
Food is everywhere in 'Frenzy', from the bunch of "sour grapes" crushed by Finch when a horse he failed to bet on comes in first, to the potato truck Foster finds himself rummaging through for a piece of damning evidence he clumsily left behind. This latter sequence is one of the film's highlights, demonstrating Hitch's ability to manipulate audiences into identifying with the villain. We may be fully aware that Foster is a cold-blooded killer attempting to frame our protagonist, but that doesn't stop us hoping in the moment he retrieves his tie-pin without detection. Foster is forced to break open the rigor-mortis stiff fingers of a corpse to retrieve the item, a detail later referenced comically when bread-sticks are broken by the inspector's wife.
It's a shame that 'Family Plot' would follow as 'Frenzy' would have made the ideal final film for Hitch, a return to both his film-making form and the London streets he menaced as a young film-maker some forty-plus years previous.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ March 6, 2014
Well, Hollywood, I hope that you had bid a fond farewell to Alfred Hitchcock, because with this film, he made his big comeback to British cinema for the first time since 1950. Granted, it's been much longer since this film's release, and we shouldn't be expecting a Hitchcock film in any country any time soon, so I'd imagine we're well used to the magnitude of the event, but hey, it's interesting to see how long Hitchcock waited before coming home, which is why he was the Master of Suspense. Well, I don't know about you guys, but nothing about this title, alone, sounds as though it pertains to suspense, because there's not much subtlety to a frenzy. Really, say what you will about the importance of Hitchcock's Hollywood projects in the '50s and '60s and what have you, but as "Vertigo", "Psycho", "The Birds" and, so help me, "Rope" told us, he was low on creative title ideas for quite some time. Hey, maybe Hitchcock was trying to tell us something with this particular title, for he knew that his time was coming, thus, he decided to throw away all of that suspenseful nonsense and really get crazy, like a frenzy. Oh, how I wish this film really was that exciting, but alas, you must remember that it is a British "thriller", and therefore pretty dry. No, the film is plenty slick, but it's not as much fun as its title might promise, for a couple reasons.

Clocking in a little shy of two hours, the film has plenty of time to build suspense, and boy, it has a tendency to work a little too hard at keeping that up, not so much dragging itself out with filler, but still outstaying its welcome with much meandering material that slows down the momentum of rising tension, however limited it may be by inconsistencies beyond pacing. I don't know if the film is so much all that humorous, or even all that fluffy of a report back to London on the tropes that Alfred Hitchcock picked up during his time in Hollywood, Anthony Shaffer's script, on top of spending too much time with certain segments in material in general, spends too much time with inconsequential, almost tongue-in-cheek lighter segments, broken up by moments of tension that would be more effective if they weren't so forcibly driven into the midst of borderline fluff. Tensions certainly aren't helped by the film's lack of originality, being at least consistent in tossing whatever pacing or tone it's following upon a traditional muder and wrong-suspect tale that is all too predictable to feel all that momentous, just as it's too histrionic to fell that grounded. I don't suppose Shaffer's scripted storytelling is all that far out there, but it's a bit questionable, drawing a borderline barely probable thriller narrative whose holes in full buyability are conceptually problematic enough. Of course, what ultimately secures the final product's underwhelmingness through the story concept is merely natural shortcomings, because the near-two-hour runtime, and the jarring incorporations of more serious tonal aspects, wouldn't be so unreasonable if this story concept wasn't so light in momentum to begin with. I feel that something could have been done to carry this story a fair distance in execution, and highlights in storytelling stand as evidence, yet the consequential shortcomings - of which there are many - ultimately reinforce limitations in intrigue enough to hold the final product back as a relatively underwhelming, somewhat fluffy thriller. There's something ultimately lacking here, but not so lacking that the final product doesn't entertain just fine as a fair penultimate opus in Hitchcock's career, and one that looks good along the way.

Really, Gilbert Taylor's and an uncredited Leonard J. South's cinematography is hardly all that special, but it pays a nice compliment to Alfred Hitchock's distinctive visual style with a lovely pronunciation of color and some subtle plays with lighting that do a decent job of drawing you into the looks of this character piece. Of course, this thriller thrives more on the portrayers of its characters, and while there's not a whole lot of material for anyone to utilized as standouts or anything of that sort, most everyone has a very English and distinguished charisma which sells each individual character, while the occasional dramatic beat reinforces a sense of consequence. The performances are solid, never really standing out, but having a certain realization to presence to help keep you invested, with the help of some pretty decent material, in all fairness. Anthony Shaffer's script gets to be rather uneven in tone and pacing, and quite frankly, it's perhaps a little too blasted British in its overt dryness, whose somewhat subdued approach to heavy subject matter further limits a sense of weight, yet through all of the shortcomings, Shaffer's humor is generally clever and amusing, while characterization proves to be well-rounded enough for you to get a grip on the characters, and the conflicts which follow them. True, there's only so much weight to get a grip on within this somewhat narratively thin and very unoriginal story concept, but potential is here, intriguing as a classic, if sometimes probably questionable study on the hunt for the wrong man in a serial murder case, anchored by the aforementioned charismatic acting and clever script. Of course, what really brings storytelling to life, about as much as it can be with material so thin in concept and uneven in execution, is Alfred Hitchcock's direction, which not only flaunts a handsome visual style, as I said earler, but keeps fairly focused in that classic Hitchcockian manner, focusing on writing wit enough to keep the slow spells from descending into blandness, while playing with a sharp atmosphere during the more intense moments in order to thoroughly chill, and provide glimpses into a more effective thriller. Needless to say, the heights in intensity are few and far between in this sparse affair, and in between that is a thriller that is too held back by predictability, inconsistency and other issues to be all that thrilling, but entertainment value is not lost, sustaining enough intrigue to keep you going, even if it's for only so far.

Bottom line, the momentously and tonally uneven, as well as unoriginal and sometimes histrionic telling of a slightly thin story concept hold the final product back, but decent cinematography, charismatic acting, clever writing and thoughtful direction prove to be enough to make Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy" a pretty entertaining and sometimes pretty tense, if underwhelming penultimate project in the career of the Master of Suspense.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2011
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