Tuesday, March 30, 2010

If VC Andrews wrote a Hammer film is would be "Paranoiac"

Got to give thanks to "HorrorHound" magazine for turning me on to this one. "HorrorHound" is quickly becoming one of my favorite Horror mags, surpassing even my beloved "Rue Morgue." If you haven't already, check it out. Although it might get you obsessed with collecting old VHS tapes. Just a warning.
Paranoiac, released in 1963 and directed by the great Freddie Francis, is an almost bloodless Hammer film. I would classify it as a psychological thriller, although it has one scene so scary it gave me nightmares. It also stars Oliver Reed, who also gives me nightmares. Especially when he plays a drunk. He is one scary dude.

Oliver Reed and Janette Scott star as Simon and Eleanor, siblings living off their deceased parents money on a classic spooky English estate. Simon is a drunk who is waiting to come into his full inheritance. Eleanor is a fragile bird who might be mad. At least, that is what Simon and Aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell) hope. With Eleanor out of the picture, Simon would inherit the whole estate. And Aunt Harriet, who has what could be best described as an "unhealthy" relationship with her nephew, would benefit. Driving a wedge into their plans is the the arrival of long lost brother Tony (Alexander Davion), presumed dead many years ago by suicide. The body was never found, and now this man, claiming to be Tony, is back to get his rightful share.

The only person happy about Tony's arrival is Eleanor, who seems to have an "unhealthy" obsession with her brother. Are you sensing a theme here? VC Andrews. If you have never read one of her books, watching this film is pretty much the same thing. It is all very Gothic, dangerous, and romantic; with just a touch of horror and incest.

Major melodrama ensues. The acting, especially by Oliver Reed, is a bit over the top but so damn endearing you can't help but love it. There is a nice twist that I really didn't see coming and the previously mentioned "scary" scene involving this "thing" pictured above. And the whole thing is photographed beautifully, as you would expect by Freddie Francis. As I said, this is a different type of Hammer film, but well worth checking out. Especially if you loved "Flowers in the Attic."
I just noticed my error in the title. I am keeping it. Because is would be Paranoiac.


The Film Connoisseur said...

I loved this movie, Oliver Reed makes it all the better of course. Agree about Freddie Francis making the film more beautiful, in my opinion, his Hammer films had the most beautiful photography and color. Ever seen Dracula Has Risen from the Grave? Check out the colors on that one!

If you enjoyed this Hammer film, something tells me you will LOVE another excellent Hammer film called Nightmare. I liked it even a bit more then I liked this one.

In my opinion, this film along with Nightmare were trying to evoke a bit of Hitchcock. They have that Hitchcockian feel to them.

Anonymous said...

nice to know you ~........................................