Powerhouse Films have just released volume two of their Hammer Films collection featuring an array of the studio’s more obscure films from the late fifties and early sixties, as part of their excellent and on-going Indicator collection. The films in the set are: The Full Treatment, The Snorkel, Cash on Demand and Never Take Sweets from a Stranger. All films have excellent picture and sound quality, especially considering the age of the movies, and Powerhouse Films should be applauded for all their hard work in bringing these Hammer classics back into circulation.
Cash on Demand
Director: Quentin Lawrence
Script: David T. Chantler & Lewis Greifer
Cast: Peter Cushing, Andrew Morell, Richard Vernon, Norman Bird, Keith Stoney, Barry Lowe, Edith Sharpe, Lois Daine, Alan Haywood
Running time: 67/80 minutes
Based on a play, The Gold Inside, by Jacques Gillies, Cash on Demand features Peter Cushing playing a fussy bank manager who becomes the victim of a nasty con, aimed at infiltrating the bank from within to extract a large amount of money from the vaults. When Andre Morrell’s fake insurance inspector turns up wanting to see him, regarding a routine inspection to ensure security at the bank is as it should be, the bank manager invites Morrell’s character in only to find out the con-man has his wife and child held hostage and they’ll die if he doesn’t do what he’s told. From then on, the tension is ratcheted up between the two men, especially as others become involved…
Cash on Demand is an excellent thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Even though Cushing plays a pretty unpleasant man one can’t help but have sympathy for him and his family as he’s put in an intolerable position, where he really is an average man alone against the world.
Unfortunately, I watched the shorter, British, version of the film, rather than the longer, US cut, hence I missed out on seeing some of the earlier interplay between the bank manager and his put-upon staff, so I’ll have to remedy that soon. However, the shorter version is still highly recommended to those who enjoy watching tense, claustrophobic thrillers that feature stunning performances, just as we get here.
As per usual Powerhouse Films has done a good job with the extras which include:
US extended cut (80 mins)
Audio commentary with David Miller and Jonathan Rigby.
The Perfect Crime: Inside ‘Cash on Demand’ (19 mins) – a talking heads documentary featuring the likes of author Jonathan Rigby, cultural historian John Johnston, and film curator Josephine Botting. This is interesting stuff and we discover that it took Hammer Films two years to get the film released.
Hammer Women: Lois Daine (10 mins) – Becky Booth speaks about the actress, in an audio essay played over stills from Daine’s career.
Theatrical Trailer – (2.21 mins)
Advertising and publicity material – 54 stills, including four posters;
Press material – 37 stills, including character profiles.
Never take sweets from a stranger
Director: Cyril Frankel
Script: John Hunter
Cast: Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer, Niall MacGinnis, Alison Leggatt, Bill Nagy, Michael Gwynn
Running time: 81 minutes
When new school principle Peter Carter (Patrick Allen) and his wife Sally (Gwen Watford) try to settle into a provincial Canadian town they soon realise that not all is as sweet as it initially seems, especially after they discover that their nine-year old daughter has been encouraged to perform lewd acts by the town’s venerable originator, Clarence Olderberry Snr (Felix Aylmer). They report it to the police but the cops are in hock to the perpetrator’s family, who basically run the town. Despite knowing they’ll cause an uproar they precede to take legal action against Mr Olderberry Snr, but his powerful son uses his connections to damage the prosecution’s case, resulting in a series of traumatic and horrific occurrences following suit.
Never take sweets (candy – in the US) from a stranger was adapted from an American play called The Pony Cart, by Roger Garis, which was based loosely on some actual cases of sexual abuse in small-town Americana. It’s a surprising film to come from out of the Hammer Films stables, and, because of how it was received on release it was the studio’s last such film. A shame really as this is truly excellent stuff.
The performances are all top-notch; especially those of the principal married couple, the Carters, and Allen and Watford are to be commended. Bill Nagy is also excellent as the manipulative and conniving Olderberry Jnr, whose later actions lead to further tragic events unfolding. Even the little girl (Janina Faye), at the centre of the furore, plays her part extremely well.
This is easily one of Hammer’s best films and deserves to be seen by a much wider audience, which hopefully this much needed re-release will help facilitate.
Special features include:
Conspiracy theories: Inside ‘Never take sweets from a stranger’ (25 mins) – a talking heads documentary featuring the likes of author Jonathan Rigby, cultural historian John J. Johnston, and film curator Josephine Botting. Again this is interesting stuff and we discover lots of facts and interesting tit-bits about the film, including the fact the Hammer head honcho Michael Carreras regretted Hammer ever making the film because of all the bad publicity afterwards.
Hammer Women: Gwen Watford (8 mins) – Laura Mayne talks about the actress, in an audio essay played over stills from Watford’s career, and how the actress originally wanted to be a concert pianist.
An interview with Janina Faye (14 mins) – Janina, who was actually 11 years old when she played the role of Jean Carter in the film, turns out to be a good interviewee and explains how she was also in the first Hammer Dracula film, with Peter Cushing, when she was only eight years old.
An appreciation by Matthew Holmes (12 mins) – who shares his in-depth knowledge of the film with us, including its art-house cinema release fate in the States.
The perfect horror chord (43 mins) – Musician David Huckvale discusses the film’s composer’s work and what constitutes the perfect horror film soundtrack.
US Theatrical Trailer – (2.5 mins);
Brian Trenchard Smith commentary of the trailer (3.21 mins);
Advertising and publicity material – 36 stills, including three posters;
Press material – 49 stills, including character profiles.
Director: Guy Green
Script: Peter Myers & Jimmy Sangster
Cast: Peter Van Eyck, Betta St. John, Mandy Miller, Gregoire Aslan, William Franklyn, Marie Burkey, Henry Vidon
Running time: 90 minutes
Paul Decker (Peter Van Eyck) arranges the perfect murder of his wife at their palatial Italian mansion. Lightly drugging her into unconsciousness with a spiked drink he then seals the room up with tape and fills it with gas to kill her. Because he’s locked inside the room with her, hidden under the floorboards, and wearing the snorkel of the title, the authorities believe it to be suicide, especially when he has an alibi for being out of the country at the time. However, his step-daughter, Jean (Mandy Miller), is suspicious and goes to extreme lengths to prove that he’s the murderer, even putting herself, and her pet dog, (actually called ‘Flush’), in danger.
Another superb hidden Hammer film, The Snorkel has an interesting and unusual premise and makes good use of it, and its great locations on the Italian Riviera, plus its excellent cast, including Van Eyck, who seems to be channelling Klaus Kinski at times.
Special features include:
Audio commentary with Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains.
Undercover Killer: Inside ‘The Snorkel’ (21 mins) - a talking heads documentary featuring the likes of author Jonathan Rigby, cultural historian John J. Johnston, and film curator Josephine Botting. Once again, this is full of interesting stuff and we discover lots of facts and interesting tit-bits about the film, including the fact that Mandy Miller went on to record probably the best-selling version of the song ‘Nelly the Elephant’!
Hammer’s Women: Bella St John (10.5 mins) – Kat Ellinger talks about the actress, in an audio essay played over stills from St John’s career, and how the actress originally started out as a child actress, and that her last film was another horror flick, namely: City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel).
Peter Allchorne and Hugh Harlow remember ‘The Snorkel’ (8 mins) – Peter was a floor manager and designer, and Hugh, the third assistant director.
Original script ending (10 mins) – drops the cop shop bit at the end.
Four-note fear (23 mins) – Musician David Huckvale discusses the film’s score in depth.
Theatrical Trailer – (1.5 mins).
Image gallery – 43 stills, including six posters.
The Full Treatment (aka Stop me before I kill)
Director: Val Guest
Script: Val Guest & Ronald Scott Thorn
Cast: Ronald Lewis, Claude Dauphin, Diane Cilento, Francoise Rosay, Bernard Braden, Katyn Douglas, Barbara Chilcott, Anne Tirard
Running time: 109 / 107 minutes
Racing driver, and all-round man’s man, Alan Corby (Ronald Lewis) is involved in a serious road accident with his new bride, Denise (Diane Cilento) while on the way to their honeymoon. After months of recovery they decide to go on their delayed honeymoon, but Alan is a changed man, and keeps getting the urge to kill his new bride (we’ve all been there!), which leaves both he and his lovely wife worried for their future happiness together. Purely by chance they encounter a psychologist while away on their honeymoon (Take 2) and Denise convinces Alan to start seeing him for therapy sessions. However, it soon becomes apparent that their new ‘friend’, Dr Prade (Claude Dauphin), isn’t all he seems and his motives for helping the couple out are not solely of a professional nature.
While not as good as the other three films that make up this collection, The Full Treatment is still a worthwhile use of your time, and certainly delivers an intriguing and unusual plot. The performances are all good, especially the duplicitous Dr Prade, who has his own lustful agenda. Well, you can’t entirely blame him, Ms Cilento is quite lovely. She was married to a certain Sean Connery at the time. And, once again, Hammer pulled the stops out and made good use of some lovely locations as the south of France backdrop to this salty tale.
Special features include:
Mind Control: Inside ‘The Full Treatment’ (21 mins) - a talking heads documentary featuring the likes of author Jonathan Rigby, cultural historian John J. Johnston, and film curator Josephine Botting. Once again, this is full of interesting stuff and we discover that director Val Guest originally wanted either Stanley Baxter or Trevor Howard for the lead role but ended up instead with Lewis.
Hammer’s Women: Diane Cilento (11 mins) – Melanie Williams talks about the actor, in an audio essay played over stills from her career. Apparently, she started off very much a proto-beatnik type of figure before settling down into acting and modelling.
A subject for analysis (14.5 mins) – Vic Pratt discusses Val Guest and his lengthy career, which began with him working for Gaumont Pictures in the 1930s, writing scripts for ‘The Crazy Gang’ and for the likes of Will Hay.
Censored scene (4 mins) – the controversial shower scene is discussed and both versions are compared.
Theatrical Trailer – (2 mins) – this is the ‘Stop me before I kill’ version.
Advertising and publicity gallery – 58 stills, including posters.
Press material – 72 pieces of press memorabilia.
All the films in this collection come with their own informative booklet featuring collections of writings on each film, complete with full cast and crew listings, and other useful information about the movies in question.