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Home | Film Review: The Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films (2010)

Film Review: The Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films (2010)


Hammer Films made their name with monsters and vampires, but this third complication from Columbia Pictures – all new to DVD – proves they could frighten you without them. Topping the set is the uncut version of the futuristic classic THESE ARE THE DAMNED, directed by the legendary Joseph Losey. Peter Cushing and Andre Morell match wits in CASH ON DEMAND. Oscar®-winning cinematographer Guy Green (1947, Great Expectations) directed THE SNORKEL, about a young girl who can’t convince anyone her stepfather’s a murderer. The renowned Val Guest co-wrote and directed the startling psychodrama STOP ME BEFORE I KILL! Kerwin Matthews finds himself in the middle of a strange mother/daughter threesome in the Jimmy Sangster-written MANIAC. Plus, this ultimate rarity: Cyril Frankel’s astounding NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER, a serious, and still horrifyingly timely, chiller about a small town terrorized by an elderly child molester. You won’t do better than this impeccable collection from the darkest corners of the Hammer imagination.


If your like me, you may have found yourself growing up on Hammer films whether thru late night showings or Sat after noon horror hosted runs. The Icons of suspense collects 6 black and white releases under one tidy roof. The films are listed as such: Stop Me Before I Kill (a/k/a The Full Treatment, 1960), Cash on Demand (1961), Never Take Candy from a Stranger (a/k/a Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, 1960 , These Are the Damned (a/k/a The Damned, 1963), Maniac” (1963)and “the Snorkel”.

These lesser known releases come as a bonus to those who follow the Hammer traditions and sense of story telling. In this 3 DVD set you can now enjoy the features as they were meant to be seen. They are presented uncut if you had purchased these in their states years back.

Fully restored, these classic will provide hours of psychological horror and suspense for viewers of the Hammer legacy. As a viewer, what you gain fro these is a pretty solid degree of mystery murder and thriller style setups. Not your modern fantastical approach that aims to grab you by frame 1 but a more somewhat slow build up of characters and plotline.

We begin with “Stop Me Before I Kill!” in which the lead, a former race car driver has trouble coping with his anxiety over a recent accident. On a holiday with his wife, he hopes to work thru these sensations and find peace again but what transpires is more of a self destruction that leaves him with urges to strangle his wife.

Peter Cushing entertain us in the film “Cash on Demand”. A crook pretending to be an insurance agent detective abducts the wife an children of the local bank manager. His plan…to rob the bank as well. When the employees learn of the scheme the bank manager must plead with them to keep quiet. This film rest smore in the category of a crime drama with Peter Cushing playing the lead of Fordyce.

“The Snorkel”, is a smart thriller that in title is in reference to the underwater mask worn. The young daughter of her now deceased mother and remaining stepfather suspects foul play based on the memories of her stepfather drowning her real father years ago. The film plays out in mystery style as the daughter tries to convince others that she knows about her stepfather’s true nature leading to an inevitable final confrontation.

“These are the Damned” if a rather offbeat gem from the director of the more noted horror film “The Prowler”. Biker gangs, Oliver Reed, an intense moody thriller drama and a mix of intertwining storylines makes this a fine piece of work that presents its own original ideas to the Hammer legacy.

The set rounds out with the films “Maniac” and “Never Take Candy from a Stranger” which provides equally compelling but on the edge style releases that make the whole deal an enjoyable viewing experience. Whether you had the thrill of seeing these in there early days or are just getting to these now I believe they will make a great viewing addition to your shelf.

The Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films (2010)

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