William Cameron Menzies didn’t direct a ton of movies, he was a production designer and his art direction won him a couple of Academy Awards. But when he did direct, they were memorable films. He had a busy year in 1953 he directed what would be his last two movies. The first one will be showcased later this month, the second is today’s movie, The Maze.
While on vacation in Cannes, France Kitty Murray (Veronica Hurst), her aunt Edith Murray (Katherine Emery) and Kitty’s fiancee Gerald MacTeam (Richard Carlson) discuss their wedding plans. MacTeam reveals that his uncle won’t be attending because he never leaves the ancestral estate Castle Craven. Later MacTeam receives a letter urging him to return to Castle Craven immediately leaving Kitty and her aunt in Cannes.
Six weeks later Kitty and her aunt read that MacTeam’s uncle has died. Kitty still hasn’t heard from her fiancee until one day he sends a letter breaking off their engagement. Furious Kitty and her aunt travel to Scotland to see her now ex-fiancee. MacTeam is less than pleased to see Kitty and tries to send them away. He reluctantly agrees to let them stay the night but under restrictions. They’re not allowed near the estates hedge maze and at night they are locked in their rooms. Kitty is also shocked at how much MacTeam has aged in such a short time. The women find that the windows in their rooms have been walled over and later in the night Kitty is woken by something dragging itself down the hall outside her door.
The next day Kitty uses her aunt’s cold to allow them to stay a few more days. She finds mysterious footprints outside her bedroom and near the maze. She sends a letter to her friends hoping they can figure out what’s wrong with MacTeam. When everyone shows up MacTeam is less than pleased but allows everyone to stay but again under strict conditions. While snooping Aunt Edith makes it up to the forbidden tower room and ends up passing out after seeing something she claims must have been her imagination. Later while snooping around the women find a book, Teratology: The Study of Monstrosities, Serious Malformations or Deviations from the Normal Structure in Man. All this leads to an ending so laughably bizarre it almost ruins the rest of the film. Still for a low budget movie shot in 3-D it’s pretty entertaining, even with the twist ending.