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)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C Films: C+
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.
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
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.
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.
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