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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Action > British > The Icons Of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films (Stop Me Before I Kill/Maniac (1963)/Cash On Demand/Never Take Candy From A Stranger/The Snorkel/These Are The Damned/Sony DVD Set)

The Icons Of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films (Stop Me Before I Kill/Maniac (1963)/Cash On Demand/Never Take Candy From A Stranger/The Snorkel/These Are The Damned/Sony DVD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Films: C+



Before becoming an outright Horror studio, Hammer tried many genres and that included Film Noir, but when that period ended in 1958, they still stayed in the thriller business.  The Icons Of Suspense Collection gives us six films from that transition.  It turned out to be interesting but awkward and the studio would not become known for thrillers in the long run.  They also tried to ride the wave of the controversy over Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom and the phenomenal success of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (both 1960), though their films were not as cutting edge, they were still interesting.


The six films included in this new DVD set from Sony include:


Stop Me Before I Kill (1960, aka The Full Treatment) – Ronald Lewis plays a race car driver who has a head injury and just when he thinks everything is fine, has the sudden compulsion to strangle his wife (Diane Cilento) to death!  Is this some transference of other anger or a diabolical plot?  Val Guest directed this passable, amusing thriller shot in MegaScope by Director of Photography by the great Gilbert Taylor (Dr. Strangelove).  It has not aged well, but has its moments.


Maniac (1963) – Also shot in MegaScope, it is a more obvious Psycho knock-off and written by the great James Sangster, as Kerwin Matthews plays Geoff, an artist on vacation (or is that stranded) in France (lucky guy?) who becomes interested in beautiful Annette (Liliane Brousse) but falls for her stepmother Eve (Nadia Gray).  Annette had been raped four year before and now Geoff is about to cause the return of the repressed to explode all over the place.  Producer Michael Carreras directed with good, but not great results despite an ambitious script.  The great Wilkie Cooper (Jason & The Argonauts) lensed the film, which is shorter than expected.


Cash On Demand (1961) – Peter Cushing and André Morrell are in a cat and mouse game as longtime quiet bank employee Cushing is pushed into helping terrorist thief Morrell rob the bank the former has built his work life on.  Director Quentin Lawrence gets as much out of the screenplay as he can and Director of Photography Arthur Grant makes you feel like you have been at the bank for years.  Richard Vernon, Vera Cook and Kevin Stoney also star.


Never Take Candy From A Stranger (1960, aka Never Take Sweets From A Stranger) – As the title suggests, a child killer is on the loose and when the nine year old daughter of a new couple (Patrick Allen, Gwen Watford) in a small town where the killings are taking place is targeted, they intend to stay and find out what is going on no matter what.  Michael Gwynn and Bill Nagy also star in this MegaScope production lensed by the legendary Freddie Francis.


The Snorkel (1958) – Paul (Peter van Eyck of The Longest Day and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold) decides to kill his wife by using the title device and gassing her to death.  Once successful, he decides his stepdaughter should be next, but she starts to become suspicious of him and if he figures this out, she could die sooner.  Jack Asher lensed this one too and it is an interesting little thriller worth seeing.


These Are The Damned (1963, aka The Damned) – The most famous critically and commercially of all the films in this set and directed by Joseph Losey, when an American visiting England (Macdonald Carrey of It’s Alive III and much TV work) is mugged by an organized teen gang led by a clever leader (Oliver Reed), he intends to find out why and all of them are in for the surprise of their lives as they will all be pawns in a crazy, murderous science experiment by the government.  Does a great job of capturing the gang scene of the time, then goes wild.  Very interesting and the supporting cast include James Villiers, Walter Gotell, Kenneth Cope, Shirley Anne Field, Nicholas Clay and an uncredited Anthony Valentine.  Arthur Grant lensed this all in HammerScope.



Eventually, Hammer abandoned such thrillers going for Horror and other trends of the 1970s before they folded. However, these are ambitious films work seeing or seeing again and I am glad Sony reissued them.



The anamorphically enhanced black and white image on all six films looks good.  You get a split of aspect ratios:  1.66 X 1 on Snokel and Demand, 2.35 X 1 on the rest of the films.  Sony has come up with some fine copies of these films looking as good as they can look in this format, though fine detail can be an issue.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on all the films sounds as good as it is going to for their age and the compression of this older Dolby format.  Extras include trailers for al the included films.


You can find several Hammer Film Noir sets by searching this site, but for more Sony/Hammer DVD sets, try these links:


Icons Of Adventure



Icons Of Horror




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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