Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hammering Away With Vampire Kisses And Careful With That Ax Oliver Reed

Paranoiac, Hammer adapted to the post Psycho change in horror tastes with an adroitness that would utterly fail them 10 years later. Paranoiac is a condensed bite of Hitch's camera angles and characters harboring secrets and possibly a psychosis or seven. Already a drunken force of nature, Oliver Reed plays a ne'er do well scion terrorizing his family, in particular his his high strung sister. Still grieving over her parents' death and her brother's attendant suicide from 10 years ago, so it can't be good when she starts seeing her departed brother popping up in odd places....

If that seems like the film is going to be a standard Gaslight-tale, whoo boy. In a plot that redefines "byzantine" it changes directions and tones with whiplash speed leaving the viewer hooked if only to find out just what the hell is going on. The cast is solid, but naturally Reed's Gorgon in a suit walks off with the whole thing.

Nightmare, It's that familiar manor house again, full of odd relatives and gamine nurses. The high strung lady in question this time is plagued by nightmares of her childhood witness of her mad mother stabbing her father to death, and the lurking fear insanity will be her birthright too. She returns home, but no sooner does she tuck herself into bed before she spots a ghostly woman in white motioning her to follow...

Once the Mini-Hitchcocks are seen in aggregate it's natural to start mentally combing them into one perfect whole. Paranoiac has Reed's balls out performance, but this is an altogether better film with real sucker punches in reversing who the audience thought they could trust. And some particularly good psychology, and performances, in the disintegrating relationship between the two villains.

Kiss of the Vampire, Neato slightly out of the box vampire tale with the Count in question keeling a rather Romney-ish coterie of vampires in his family cult. The hapless hero's newly wedded wife gets the ball rolling when the Count decides to make her the latest acquisition to his magic bathrobe vampire Amway meetings.

The Van Helsing analogue is something else, Cushing's dapper mannerisms replaced by Clifford Evans'  hard drinking, brash pragmatism.

The Horror of Dracula, I am not, nor will I ever be, comfortable with how attracted I am to Sir Christopher Lee in this movie. That is all.

Brides of Dracula, Lee said Hell No for the first of many times and Hammer went ahead pretty successfully with a Dracula free Dracula sequel. I seem to be more fond of this entry than most. But I rather like its Drac substitute being  an elderly Dowager and her "corrupted" son. Whom, in a vain attempt to control, she's kept locked up at the family castle. Throwing him the occasional unfortunate village girl to sate his thirst. The female Reinfeld is a hoot and Peter Cushing is on hand to be awesome and clean the whole mess up.

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