Set in London, the film begins with Detective-Inspector Brunel (Lino Ventura) being called to investigate the tragic murder of a man named John Morlar (Richard Burton). Upon arriving at the scene of the crime, Brunel discovers this isn’t a normal murder, and the killer is nowhere to be found nearby. As they investigate, they are also shocked to find that John is somehow not dead at all and just hanging on to life! John is rushed to a nearby hospital with severe injuries and wounds that need attention.
While John lies in hospital attached to monitors and hopefully recovering, Brunel continues investigating the murder. Brunel speaks with many suspects and even studies John’s journals found in his home. Through his investigation, we learn that John may have had a powerful ability of telekinesis. Now, with the help of Dr Zonfeld (Lee Remick), a psychiatrist who met with John on several occasions, Brunel looks for a possible suspect. Soon he begins to wonder if Dr Zonfeld holds the key to revealing what John’s true motives were.
The Medusa Touch is best classed as a thriller with some moments of supernatural horror. As far as the thriller aspect is concerned, this film feels like a good old-fashioned detective story. Brunel seeks clues and questions various suspects with the hopes of not only catching a killer but fully understanding how an almost dead man could bring utter chaos and death to many.
The pacing of this film is excellent, with the character of Brunel always making discoveries that expand the story and keep the film exciting. Flashbacks and fun transitions fill in the unanswered questions and build towards the reveal, keeping the audience guessing. But sadly, when it comes to reveals and big twists, I did find everything highly predictable apart from the final moments, which I’ll admit I found to be extremely unexpected.
Visually, I found this film to be highly pleasing. Suspenseful moments and unsettling horror aspects are presented well, and the special effects shown, especially during the third act, impressed me a great deal. Performances from the leading cast are pleasing. Lino Ventura as Brunel is not only likeable but also wise, confident, and quite a determined character when solving the crime. Richard Burton, as John Morlar, plays a victim well, but thanks to flashbacks, we see a dark side to this man, stopping the audience’s sympathy towards him. Sadly, I found the performance of Lee Remick as Dr Zonfeld a weaker aspect. She comes across as expressionless and even monotone at various times. The musical score has powerful moments, but I can’t deny it also has moments where the music feels overbearing and unfitting, including during the introduction.
Overall, if you are in the mood looking for a classic-style detective story with a bonus cup of horror, add this film to your watchlist. With a pleasing atmosphere and a pace that keeps viewers guessing as well as invested, The Medusa Touch tells a remarkable story with fun performances, a creative filming style, and impressive visuals. Sure, the reveals surrounding the finale are predictable, but the final moments are certainly not expected. In the end, I found myself entertained by this cinematic classic from the late 70s.