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Paranoiac (1963)

VHS Cover (Universal)
Genres:
Drama, Horror, Psychological Drama
Director:
Freddie Francis Freddie Francis
Starring:
Janette Scott Janette Scott
Oliver Reed Oliver Reed
Sheila Burrell Sheila Burrell
Maurice Denham Maurice Denham
Alexander Davion Alexander Davion
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> Hammer Films

6.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Tristan
Added: September 15, 2007
There's just something about Hammer films that does it for me. Even if it's not a good movie, by traditional standards, I usually enjoy it based on the always excellent performances and the beautiful locations. Of course, there is the occasional one that rolls around which has all the elements of a great movie, but failed to piece them together correctly. This is to say, sometimes they just don't work.

Oliver Reed plays Simon Ashby, a man who's younger brother Tony (Alexander Davion) committed suicide eight years ago, after the death of their parents. His only remaining relative, his sister Eleanor (Janette Scott), is claiming that she has started seeing Tony and doesn't know if they are hallucinations or reality. The cruel and charming Simon is only interested in getting his inheritance, antagonizing his sister, playing mind games to try and drive her insane. It's obvious very early on that there's something going on between the "nurse" and Simon. The way they look at each other when Eleanor's around, and the way they talk about Tony's death, you know something is up.

We soon discover that Simon does not come into his inheritance for another three weeks, and has run up debts all over town. About this time, Tony, or a man claiming to be Tony really does appear and saves Eleanor from her attempted suicide by jumping off a cliff. After bringing her home, the man is berated with questions by Simon and his Aunt (Sheila Burrell) trying to trick this newcomer into admitting he's not Tony. At times it seems he's going to be caught, but others, he seems to know everything about Tony. Shortly afterwards a huge twist is revealed, and to avoid spoiling it for you, I pretty much can't say anything else about the rest of the movie.

This one really didn't do it for me. While it did feature a spectacular performance by Oliver Reed, the rest of the actors had nothing to offer. And I really mean that. None of them were enjoyable or had any sort of on screen presence. I think one of my biggest problems with it was the lack of Reed. He really dominates in a movie, and if he had gotten more screen time, I think this movie would have been much more enjoyable. Another thing was, that although there were many plot twists and you didn't know who was good or evil, and who to root for, the ending was very predictable. It sort of ruins it for me, when I can figure it out before it happens. Especially for a movie that is supposed to be suspenseful and keep you guessing to the very end.

It's a good movie, don't get me wrong. But as far as being a Hammer horror film, it's a big letdown. I guess I'm just partial to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Oliver Reed though, the man can certainly act. Also, the black and white does add a nice touch to it. I know that it wasn't intentional, but it certainly adds an element of mystery and darkness to a movie. Watch if it you're a die hard Hammer horror fan, or if you're just looking for an older thriller. If you're looking for a serious horror film, best move along to something else.

6/10
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