Last week I reviewed 1961's These Are The Damned , which was one of the six films in the recently released Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films DVD collection. This week I thought I'd give capsule reviews of three more films from the collection:
The Snorkel (1958): Sneaky author Paul Decker (Peter Van Eyck; The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse), knocks off his rich wife and makes it look like suicide by an elaborate murder method involving the title object and deadly gas. But he didn't count on annoying stepdaughter Candy (Mandy Miller), who's always been aware that Paul was somehow responsible for her real father's murder years earlier. Unfortunately for Candy, her efforts to prove Paul's guilt only make the latter determined to kill her. Directed by Guy Green, this is an entertaining little thriller (the old Columbo TV series would've been right at home with the plot), with some nice European (France and Italy) location shooting mixed in with interior scenes shot in England. Van Eyck is quite good as the cold-blooded killer, but Miller's performance really begins to get on your nerves (I was on Paul's side during his attempts to kill Candy) and the supporting cast, aside from Gregoire Aslan as the clueless French police detective on the case, makes little impression.
Stop Me Before I Kill! (1960): A race car driver (Ronald Lewis; Scream of Fear) suffers a head injury on his wedding day and afterwards finds he suddenly feels compelled to strangle his new wife* (Diane Cliento; Hombre). But is the wife and/or the driver's way-too-informed French psychiatrist (Claude Dauphin) secretly setting him up for a fall? Okay acting, direction (Val Guest) and suspense, but a few lapses in story logic (you meet a psychiatrist in France while on your honeymoon and later, back in England, he's the first person you run into? Red flag!) keep this from being better.
Maniac (1963): In France, American artist Paul Farrell (Kerwin Matthews) gets involved with both pretty Annette (Liliane Brousse) and her sexy stepmother Eve (Nadia Gray). Paul gets seduced by Eve (guess how) into taking part in freeing Annette's father from a mental institution, where he was sent after killing the guy who raped Annette some years before. But things start to unravel once the old man is free. Maniac, like the previous Stop Me... has good direction (this time by Hammer producer Michael Carreras), acting and great location shots, plus a better sense of pacing and atmosphere than the last film, but again, the script's holes mute some of the suspense.
Next week I'll be reviewing the remaining two films in this collection (click here to reserve it online from us), 1960's Never Take Candy From A Stranger and 1961's Cash on Demand.
*(Make up your own marriage jokes....)