Imprisoned for a robbery which lead to murder, Oliver Reed vows revenge on wife Jill St. John who has asked for a divorce because she is pregnant with another man's baby. After a violent break-out, Reed heads to London for revenge and this leads to a series of hideously gruesome acts after his initial confrontation with his now ex-wife. Unaware that she lost the baby, Reed is still set on revenge, and as a result of this, Reed and his fellow escape prisoner (Ian MacShane) end up taking the beautiful Jill Townsend hostage.
The violence in this movie is the type that makes your jaw drop, and Reed's cruelties are sickening. Before clubbing the prison guard, Reed douses him with his chamber pot in one of the film's more disgusting scenes, and a cop gets brutally burnt to death while chasing Reed on a motorcycle on the roof of St. John's flat. Even when St. John tries to break things off with Reed gently, he becomes very violent with her, punching his hand through a glass barrier in the prison visitor's room to attempt to strangle her.
Having never heard of this film before, I was curious to see it based on comparisons to "Get Carter" and "Villain". It was also a reverse of "Play Misty For Me" about a violently obsessed man instead of a psychotic fatal attraction. Some of the film is quite disturbing, and I found it unbelievable that Townsend would allow herself to be attracted to Reed and go out of her way to seduce him. That whole concept seemed rather set up simply to stretch out the running time rather than be a realistic turn of events.
As ugly as the film is in spirit, it is gorgeous in many ways with lush art decco flats and a nice music score. Edward Woodward and Frank Finlay round out the cast of popular character actors. As difficult a subject this is, I still couldn't take my eyes off of it, like a bad nightmare that you obsess with knowing how it all ends.
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