Blu-ray Review: 10 Rillington Place - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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If you don't already know the real-life story of British serial killer John Christie (and, actually, even if you do), prepare to be supremely creeped out by 10 Rillington Place. The 1971 film, directed by Richard Fleischer, assumes an unnervingly dry, clinical tone as it tracks the horrific string of murders committed by Christie, played with reptilian chilliness by Richard Attenborough. Matching Attenborough in terms of acting excellence is John Hurt as Tim Evans, a man who becomes unwittingly caught up in Christie's crimes.

This underrated gem of a psychological thriller has recently been issued for the first time on Blu-ray by boutique label Twilight Time (a limited edition of 3,000 units). 10 Rillington Place is practically guaranteed to get under your skin.

It's no spoiler to say Christie is a killer. The story opens in 1944. Christie, claiming to be something of a medical expert, has invited a neighbor (Phyllis MacMahon) to his flat at the titular address. She's troubled by some kind of respiratory issue, which Christie promptly cures permanently—by murdering her in a shockingly calm, cool, and collected manner. Director Fleischer does a lot with the power of suggestion. It's clear that Christie derives sexual gratification from his crimes. The sure-handedness with which Christie carries out his murder also makes it clear he's well practiced. 

10 Rillington Place booklet (299x380).jpg Enter Tim and Beryl (Judy Geeson) Evans. They're a young couple with an infant child. They move into the vacant flat at Rillington, the one rented out by Christie and his wife, Ethel (Pat Heywood). Tim, it turns out, is illiterate—apparently the source of his state of constant agitation. He earns very little money and is therefore highly concerned when Beryl reveals she's pregnant again. Christie and Tim are hardly the only fascinating oddballs in the film. Beryl, as enigmatically played by Geeson, is a disaffected puzzle of a woman. She's intent on aborting the pregnancy, a decision that seems to trouble her no more than cancelling a magazine subscription. Tim, initially dead set against abortion, seems incapable of making a firm decision and sticking to it. 

Enough with the recap. Suffice it to say, Christie's "medical expertise" rears it's truly ugly head yet again. He convinces the Evans couple that he's witnessed enough "terminations" (his word) to perform the procedure himself. While the real story of John Christie and Timothy John is a matter of public record, if you're not already aware of the case it's best to approach 10 Rillington Place knowing little. While we don't get an in-depth examination of the mind of the psychotic Christie, we do see a searing portrait of the dangers of living life willingly under-educated. Tim Evans makes some jarringly bizarre decisions, but Hurt's performance helps makes the whole stupefying story entirely believable (the real case is one of those 'truth is stranger than fiction' situations; the filmmakers reportedly went to great lengths to maintain accuracy). 
10 Rillington Place BD (301x380).jpg Twilight Time's Blu-ray offers a clean 1080p transfer of Denys Coop's shadowy cinematography. The lossless DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono presents a straightforward, clear-as-a-bell audio experience. Jazz musician and composer John Dankworth's evocative score is available as an isolated track.

In addition to the isolated score track, Twilight Time's 10 Rillington Place Blu-ray is graced by two separate audio commentaries: one by co-star Judy Geeson with film historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman, the other by John Hurt.

For ordering information (while supplies last) visit the official Twilight Time site or Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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