31 Days Of Hammer: Paranoiac

31-days-of-hammerThe Ashby family has a few problems. Mr. and Mrs. Ashby were killed in a plane crash when their three children were young. The oldest son Anthony committed suicide when he was 15 by jumping off of a cliff.

A few years pass and sister Eleanor (Janette Scott) seems to be going insane, she believes she keeps seeing Anthony and it looks like the estate will be going to son Simon (Oliver Reed). And then Anthony (Alexander Davion) shows up.

Naturally everybody is skeptical that this is really Tony. Aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell) who has looked after the Ashby’s since their parents died doesn’t believe it. Tony claims that the suicide was faked and he just left to wander around the world. The family lawyer confirms that it is Tony and Simon seems to take it well. Then someone starts trying to kill Tony.

Paranoiac_movie_posterMeanwhile someone has been playing music in the chapel at night with a strange masked individual. Eleanor starts to fall for Tony, repulsed by her supposed incest she’s about to commit suicide when Tony reveals something even more shocking.

Hammer had been trying to make Josephine Tey’s novel Brat Farrar into a movie since the 1950’s but failed on two previous occasions. When they finally made it it became the condensed Paranoiac.

Freddie Francis had been a cinematographer but he made the leap to directing for Hammer and made several of their horror movies. Paranoiac features some very stylish cinematography. Oliver Reed though carries the movie with another excellent performance as brother Simon, conniving, volatile and maybe a little murderous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WydvbbUCSz0

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.