11 July 2017 | Coventry
Out of the literally hundreds of made-for-TV occult horror and thrillers movies that the glorious seventies & eighties decades brought forward, I wouldn't list "Sweet, Sweet Rachel" in my personal top 20. I even doubt it would make top 50, and yet it still remains a more than adequate and worthwhile effort with an overall sinister ambiance, a couple of admirable fright sequences and a number of terrific performances. Like more often the case during the early 70s, the film served as a pilot episode for a TV-series that was named "The Sixth Sense" and ran for a season or two. As the title implies, the series dealt with paranormal phenomena and various types of psychic powers. In "Sweet, Sweet Rachel" as well, almost every character is either telekinetically gifted or an expert in the domain of ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) so as the viewer you'll require at least a fair portion of suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy the film. Rachel's beloved husband Paul fell – or jumped – to his death from a window and our grieving widow is terrified that her telekinetic powers unconsciously caused his death. Psychic powers apparently run in the family, as it turns out that Rachel's aunt Lillian played ESP games with Paul over the phone and that also her niece Nora was desperately in love with him. Dr Lucas Darrow, a medical authority in the field of ESP, investigates the murder case with the help of his blind assistant Carey, but strange mental forces nearly get them both killed as well. Clearly someone is using his/her psychic powers to commit murder. Is it Rachel, either consciously or not, or another member of the family driven by the good old-fashioned motives of greed and jealousy? One thing's for sure, you definitely don't need any paranormal superpowers in order to figure out the film's plot. When there are only six lead characters, of which two are good guys and the other four behave themselves in various degrees of suspicious, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes in order to point out the culprit. The highlights of "Sweet, Sweet Rachel" exist of isolated moments of tension, for example a few menacing phone calls and a talking sculpture's head. The lovely Stephanie Powers makes an excellent damsel in distress, and she receives solid support from a handful of veteran actors like Alex Dreier, Pat Hingle, Louise Latham and Chris Robinson. Director Sutton Roley also made the fantastic - albeit criminally underrated – apocalyptic horror film "Chosen Survivors" that every fan of 70s horror should watch.