Welcome to Mill Creek Musings, a segment in which I work my way through the three low-price Mill Creek film sets that I own, reviewing each film for content and quality along the way. Strange Illusion marks my seventh viewing from the 50 Dark Crimes set.
Paul (Jimmy Lydon) is a young man struggling with a recurring nightmare. His father, a California political figure, met an untimely death in a car accident. Paul’s dream shows his father’s death, and then shows his mother falling in love with and marrying a dangerous man. He also hears the same song every time he has the dream.
When Paul’s mother meets and falls in love with Brett Curtis (Warren William), Paul begins to believe that his nightmare is coming true and that Brett is evil.
Strange Illusion is directed by Edgar Ulmer and based on the story by Fritz Rotter.
The film begins by showing Paul’s dream in a crazy sequence that immediately draws the viewer’s attention. Things get a bit calm for a while after the dream sequence ends, but eventually the film picks up again and becomes an interesting story of premonition and crime.
It’s a journey full of suspicion for both Paul and the viewer. It does move somewhat slowly and drags on a bit despite its relatively short running time, but the better moments outweigh the dull to make it a good watch. This is especially true near the end of the film, when Paul enters a mad rush to save his sister from harm.
Jimmy Lydon and Warren William both give fantastic performances here. William appears in his typical “bad man” role, but he doesn’t act bad from the beginning. Paul’s suspicions make the viewer wonder whether William’s character is truly bad, and because he’s Warren William we suspect that Paul is correct. William does a great job at playing both sides of his character: the charmer that would be easy to fall for, and the evil plotter.
The print of the film in the Mill Creek set is decent. The picture is grainy but watchable and the sound isn’t problematic at all.
Strange Illusion is a decent crime drama and psychological thriller with a few great moments and a very interesting ending. The score: 3.5/5
(Strange Illusion is in the public domain. Watch it for free at the Internet Archive!)