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Author Topic: Hammer Noir: Paranoiac (1963)  (Read 149 times)
morrison-dylan-fan
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« on: October 18, 2017, 09:43:30 AM »

Watched on DVD 8

* This review may contain spoilers ***

Keeping a TV recording of the very good The Borderlands by the side,I started look for another title to watch for a British Horror double bill. Catching me completely by surprise,my dad revealed a rarely mentioned Hammer Horror he had picked up,which led to me turning paranoiac.

The plot:

After the deaths of their parents in an air-crash the ties that bind the Ashby family together start to snap. Sinking into depression with the rest of his brothers and sisters, Tony Ashby appears to end it all by jumping off a cliff into the sea,an act which none of the other family members see take place.Taken care of by Aunt Harriet,Simon starts becoming increasingly aware of how fragile his sister Eleanor is in the mansion. Wanting all the inheritance for himself,Simon begins playing games that get Eleanor to question her sanity.Fearing that she's starting to see ghosts,Eleanor and the rest of the family discover that "dead" Tony is actually alive. As everyone appears to accept that he is telling the truth,"Tony" starts playing a paranoiac game…

View on the film:

Cracking under the pressure of her family and the re-appearance of Tony, Janette Scott gives a great performance as Eleanor,whose stuck in the mansion status leads Scott to getting Eleanor to lunge out in violently fearful,and abrasively passionate ways. Bringing light into the Ashby family,Alexander Davion gives a sharp, icy performance as Tony,whose handsome looks Davion sands down to a reveal calculating bite. Joined by a simmering Sheila Burrell as Aunt Harriet,Oliver Reed gives a cracking performance as Simon,who Reed balances between wrapping cruel mind-games round Eleanor, and falling down to the madness of the Ashby family.

Beginning the themes that would re-appear in the excellent Amicus Giallo The Psychopath, director Freddie Francis & cinematographer Arthur Grant blend the Gothic smoke of Hammer Horror with dazzling Film Noir stylisation, with the isolation of the Ashby mansion being reflected in water and deranged family members spying on each other in shadows. Backed by a spidery score from Elisabeth Lutyens, Francis brings frightful doubt into the mansion with crisp side shots giving the impression of ghosts/mysterious figures,and a digging deep inside the foundation,allow Francis to unmask fiery secrets.

Loosely based on Josephine Tey's novel,the screenplay by Jimmy Sangster wonderfully uses each Ashby family member to set the other one off to psychological horror,from the fury of mourning from Harriot,to the screams of Eleanor and the cackling weirdness of Simon. Whilst the ending is too neat and tidy,Sangster brilliantly makes Tony a Noir loner trapped in a horror nightmare,with the "love" Eleanor has for Tony edging towards a risqué undertone,and the ambiguity of this Tony being real or fake making each of the Ashby's feel paranoiac.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2017, 10:48:27 AM »

Thanks will Look for it.

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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2017, 11:10:35 AM »

I'll look for it too. I've been meaning to check out more Hammer Noir. Any good suggestions?

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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2017, 05:46:22 AM »

Paranoiac: A paranoid. Of, relating to, or resembling paranoia.

Paranoiac is directed by Freddie Francis and loosely adapted to screenplay by Jimmy Sangster from Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar. It stars Oliver Reed, Janette Scott, Sheila Burrell and Alexander Davion. Music is by Elisabeth Lutyens and cinematography by Arthur Grant.

The Ashby family has been blighted by tragedy. 11 years previously the parents were killed in an accident and their younger son, Tony, was so grief stricken he committed suicide by leaping off of a nearby cliff into the sea below. However, Anthony's body was never found. The remaining siblings, Eleanor (Scott) & Simon (Reed) have been raised at the family mansion by their aunt Harriet (Burrell), and neither of them have grown into stable adults. So when an adult comes into their lives claiming to be Tony it further opens up neurotic wounds and dark family secrets.

Skeleton in the closet.

Hammer Films tag onto the coat tails of Hitchcock's Psycho with this slick and moody psychological thriller. The studio would become synonymous with reinventing the creature feature sub-genre of horror that encompassed the likes of Dracula & Frankenstein. What often gets overlooked is that in the 60s they were producing some excellent thrillers, little seen gems that didn't even get home format releases in Britain until over 40 years later! Paranoiac is one such gem, it forms part of the thriller splinter involving someone either going insane or being driven so by unscrupulous bastards.

Paranoiac thrives on slow burn pacing and atmospheric black and white photography, and features a roll call of characters who are either up to no good or are clearly skew-whiff in the head! Perfectly filmed out of the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, England, where the jagged cliff faces match the fragmented state of minds of the principal players, it's a film that benefits greatly from the acting on show. Reed is an oily drunk and a bully, Scott expertly portrays a timid gal clinging onto to her last bit of sanity and Burrell puts a shifty cynicism into mollycoddling Aunt Harriet. Pleasant surprise here is Davion as the man claiming to be Tony, not a well known name but he does a great job in a tricky role, with cards held close to the chest he handles a big shift in the character's fortunes with a smoothness that's most impacting.

It's no Psycho (what is?) and it has some minor flaws in the writing, such as an incestuous thread that is never expanded on, but this is still a moody little cracker of a thriller. Slow burn for sure, but always holding the attention right up to the deliverance of a joyously macabre finale. 7.5/10

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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2017, 08:27:53 AM »

I'll look for it too. I've been meaning to check out more Hammer Noir. Any good suggestions?

Hi Jess,my favourite from Hammer's Psych-Thriller's is the Giallo-inspired Crescendo, which is on YT:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnuR8N8MDCQ

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morrison-dylan-fan
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2017, 04:49:38 PM »

Paranoiac: A paranoid. Of, relating to, or resembling paranoia.

Paranoiac is directed by Freddie Francis and loosely adapted to screenplay by Jimmy Sangster from Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar. It stars Oliver Reed, Janette Scott, Sheila Burrell and Alexander Davion. Music is by Elisabeth Lutyens and cinematography by Arthur Grant.

The Ashby family has been blighted by tragedy. 11 years previously the parents were killed in an accident and their younger son, Tony, was so grief stricken he committed suicide by leaping off of a nearby cliff into the sea below. However, Anthony's body was never found. The remaining siblings, Eleanor (Scott) & Simon (Reed) have been raised at the family mansion by their aunt Harriet (Burrell), and neither of them have grown into stable adults. So when an adult comes into their lives claiming to be Tony it further opens up neurotic wounds and dark family secrets.

Skeleton in the closet.

Hammer Films tag onto the coat tails of Hitchcock's Psycho with this slick and moody psychological thriller. The studio would become synonymous with reinventing the creature feature sub-genre of horror that encompassed the likes of Dracula & Frankenstein. What often gets overlooked is that in the 60s they were producing some excellent thrillers, little seen gems that didn't even get home format releases in Britain until over 40 years later! Paranoiac is one such gem, it forms part of the thriller splinter involving someone either going insane or being driven so by unscrupulous bastards.

Paranoiac thrives on slow burn pacing and atmospheric black and white photography, and features a roll call of characters who are either up to no good or are clearly skew-whiff in the head! Perfectly filmed out of the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, England, where the jagged cliff faces match the fragmented state of minds of the principal players, it's a film that benefits greatly from the acting on show. Reed is an oily drunk and a bully, Scott expertly portrays a timid gal clinging onto to her last bit of sanity and Burrell puts a shifty cynicism into mollycoddling Aunt Harriet. Pleasant surprise here is Davion as the man claiming to be Tony, not a well known name but he does a great job in a tricky role, with cards held close to the chest he handles a big shift in the character's fortunes with a smoothness that's most impacting.

It's no Psycho (what is?) and it has some minor flaws in the writing, such as an incestuous thread that is never expanded on, but this is still a moody little cracker of a thriller. Slow burn for sure, but always holding the attention right up to the deliverance of a joyously macabre finale. 7.5/10

Hi Spike,thanks for the great review,what did you think of the ending? I felt that it appeared Hammer believed that the audience would want some bang for their bucks,instead of the slow-burn terror that had featured in the rest of the movie. Btw,I saw your review on the new Mummy,Universal have recently canned their Dark Universe,after just one movie.

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Spikeopath
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2017, 11:34:09 AM »

Hi Spike,thanks for the great review,what did you think of the ending? I felt that it appeared Hammer believed that the audience would want some bang for their bucks,instead of the slow-burn terror that had featured in the rest of the movie. Btw,I saw your review on the new Mummy,Universal have recently canned their Dark Universe,after just one movie.

Hello Mucker!

I very much understand if anyone has a beef with the finale, but I really liked it, has a lurid cheek to it, but then again I am a macabre kind of guy  Evil

Yep, The Mummy made me angry. Hadn't heard that about Dark Universe, but unless they changed direction - and hired new idea folk into the writing room - then it isn't really surprising. Definitely my worst blind buy of the year thus far.

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