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Paranoiac

UK 1963
produced by
Anthony Hinds for Hammer
directed by Freddie Francis
starring Janette Scott, Oliver Reed, Alexander Davion, Sheila Burrell, Liliane Brousese, Maurice Denham, John Bonney, John Stuart, Harold Lang
screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, music by Elisabeth Lutyens, music supervision by John Hollingsworth, cinematography by Arthur Grant, special effects by Les Bowie

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Since the death of their parents, Eleanor (Janette Scott) and Simon (Oliver Red) Ashby, heirs to a vast fortune, have been brought up by their aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell), and they do pretty much what all young heirs seem to do: Simon tries to drink away his money and upset everybody only remotely associated with him, while Eleanor slowly fades away into insanity, with her nurse Francoise (Liliane Brousse) being more a sex kitten for Simon than a help for her. And Simon actually plans to drive her insane to get his hands on her share of the inheritance as well ... but his plans it seems haven't gotten very far.

Then one day, Tony (Alexander Davion), Simon's and Eleanor's long lost thought to be dead brother turns up, actually saving Eleanor from a suicide. Eleanor's mood quickly brightens up, since she has always loved her brother Tony, but both Simon and aunt Harriet deeply distrust Tony, thinking him to be an impostor only after the money.

And while Tony seems to be honest to the bone and holier than thou, and he really seems to care about Eleanor, he really is an impostor, one who Keith (John Bonney), son of the Ashby's family attorney (Maurice Denham) has hired to help him cover up the crooked dealings he has made with the family fortune ...

Back home, Simon, fearing for his inheritance, even makes an attempt at Tony's life, that almost also involves Eleanor, but fails.

Then Tony starts to do a bit of snooping around on his own, and discovers that Simon is in fact quite mad and he and aunt Harriet are covering up a terrible family secret: That Simon has killed his brother Tony (the real one) many years ago and with Aunty's help has walled him up in the family chapel - where he goes every now and again to play his brother a few tunes on the organ. When Tony (the impostor) also discovers the corpse of Tony (the real one) in the chapel, he gets into a fight with Simon, and, as these stories go, ultimately the chapel catches fire. Tony can escape, withthe help of Eleanor, but Simon, in a desperate attempt to save the dead body of his brother, dies in the flames.

 

I have to admit it, on closer inspection the plotline of Paranoiac is rather weak, at the same time over-convoluted and it has a quite some plotholes. Yet the film, one of Hammer's psycho thrillers in contemporary settings rather than their more usual gothic horror, is quite good at what it is, solid and entertaining thrillerfare. This is of course thanks to an atmospheric direction job by Freddie Francis - who might never have been a top director but was always great at genre fare -, a well-paced (if not too well-written) script, and great performances from all of the involved, with Oliver Reed outshining the restin a rather restrained yet chilling performance.

Watch it, if you don't think about the story too much you'll like it.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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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
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the new anthology by
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