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Hell is a City

UK 1960
produced by
Michael Carreras for Hammer
directed by Val Guest
starring Stanley Baker, John Crawford, Donald Pleasence, Maxine Audley, Billie Whitelaw, Joseph Tomelty, George A.Cooper, Geoffrey Frederick, Vanda Godsell, Charles Houston, Joby Blanshard, Charles Morgan, Peter Madden, Dickie Owen, Lois Daine, Warren Mitchell, Sarah Branch, Alister Williamson, Russell Napier, John Comer, John Harvey, Doris Speed, Marianne Stone
screenplay by Val Guest, based on the novel by Maurice Procter, music by Stanley Black

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Don Starling (John Crawford) has just broken out of jail, but he already plans his next coup, robbing the earnings of bookie Gus Hawkins (Donald Pleasence) before Hawkins' employees have a chance to deposit them at the bank ... and Starling goes through with his plan too, even if it means he has to kill the girl (Lois Daine) who has the bag full of money handcuffed to her wrist ...

Inspector Martineau (Stanley Baker) is on the job to solve this case of theft and urder, but even though there are no concrete clues leading to Starling Martineau knows right away it's his handwriting, so he doesn't merely collect evidence but also questions Starling's associates, first and foremost because Starling needs a place to hide out - and by questioning his associates, Martineau also stumbles upon Gus HAwkins' wife Chloe (Billie Whitelaw) and eventually learns Starling has - of all places - spent a night in the attic of Hawkins' house ...

Eventually, Martineau and his men are able to track down Starling's accomplices (Charles Houston, Joby Blanshard, Charles Morgan) and are confirmed that they are on the right track, but they are still unable to find Starling ... until rather by chance, Martineau runs into him at furnisher Steele's (Joseph Tomelty), the place Starling broke in when he was last arrested and where he has hidden his loot, and whose deaf-mute granddaughter (Sarah Branch) he is not taking hostage.

It all ends in a shootout on the rooftops during which Martineau is gravely wounded and Starling almost falls to his death - but ultimately he can be arrested - and sentenced to death in the process, which leaves a lump in MArtineau's throat despite everything ...


Excellent crime thriller that effortlessly turns what is basically a rendition of police routine into an extremely exciting plot. Add to that expert pacing, flawless direction and a great cast and you've got something that's nothing short of a masterpiece - even if the film to this day seems to be by and large overlooked by fans and film historians alike who seem to associate the production company Hammer during that period exclusicely with horror.

Director Val Guest's output obver the years has been incredibly uneven but this is most probably his very best and the film he should be remembered by. Recommended.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD