The last of the great theatrical barnstormers, particularly famed for his lusty impersonation of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Slaughter generally disappoints on film, not only because the movies themselves tend to be creaky reproductions of stage performances, but because hisspeciality - the hissable villains of Victorian melodrama - really requires live audience participation to complete its larger-than-life mockery. The Face at the Window, closer to Grand Guignol in its tale of a mysterious killer who terrorises Paris in the 1880s, stabbing his victims while their attention is claimed by a bestial face at the window, is probably the best of them. The plot, statically but effectively staged as a series of tableaux, and filled out by a mad scientist who revives corpses by electricity (and proposes to assist the police by reviving a victim to finger the killer), is agreeably dotty. But Slaughter's performance, stylised in movement and gesture to an almost Brechtian degree, as self-parodic as a pantomime demon yet oddly chilling in its assumption of a sadism gleefully shared with the audience, is extraordinary.
The Face at the Window
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||AR Rawlinson, Randall Faye|