Mill Creek’s Hammer Films: The Ultimate Collection is a majestic and exceptional release that brings together 20 feature films from the Hammer Cinematheque, and although I have only seen and reviewed 18 of them, this 10-disc box set is one of the best releases in years.
The Conspiracy of the Gorgons (1964):
At the beginning of the 20th century, a gorgon takes on human form and terrorizes a small European village by turning its inhabitants into stone.
An abandoned castle on a windswept hill in the middle of the forest is said to be home to the last remaining Greek creature known as the Gorgon, a female being so cursed by the gods that anyone who looks into her eyes turns to stone. Statues of stone men adorn the area around the residence, and everyone in the village below knows well enough to stay away, but when two young lovers venture too close to the castle, something terrible happens : The woman turns to stone, and the man staggers through the house, stricken with what appears to be an illness. He dies, frozen in stone. Police suspect the man of killing his girlfriend and committing suicide or something similar, but the man’s father, who had come to the trial, disagrees. He begins to investigate and visits the town’s doctor, Surgeon Namarov (Peter Cushing), who is studious and stubborn and seems to know something he doesn’t share. As he continues his investigation, Namarov suspects that a long-lost gorgon named Megaera is alive and living in a castle in the forest. When he too suffers from an illness that pierces him and dies, Namarov finds himself at the center of a conflict after an evil professor named Carl Meister (Christopher Lee) sticks his nose into the village’s affairs. Meister realizes that Namaroff is protecting his pretty assistant Carla Hoffman (Barbara Shelley) from a terrible secret that could have disastrous consequences if not solved soon.
Handsomely directed by Terence Fisher, Gorgon is a great gothic and romantic thriller with some supernatural borrowings from Greek fantasy. There’s a fantastic atmosphere, typical of everything Hammer did at the time, and while Cushing plays a controversial role, Lee plays a heroic second role. The effects of the creature are minimal, but effective.
The Sherwood Forest Sword (1960) Storyline:
While King Richard is far from the Crusades, a few nobles from Nottingham and their sheriff plot to take the land of the fallen Crusaders, but Robin Hood and Maid Marian thwart their plan.
Richard Green, who played Robin Hood in 144 television episodes, returns to play the character again for Hammer. Sword of Sherwood Forest, filmed in Ireland, follows Robin’s brief adventure as he works undercover as a hitman for a gang of thugs intent on killing the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Peter Cushing) thinks he can outsmart Robin and his gang of merry men who live in Sherwood as criminals, and he even offers a pardon, killing anyone who takes his deal. Maid Marian (Sarah Twig) does her best to help Robin, but the evil Sheriff and his legionnaire soldiers have just put a stop to Robin’s plans.
Sword of Sherwood Forest is handsome and well equipped and has some convincing looking archers, but Green has to be the slowest and least coordinated Robin Hood I’ve ever seen in film. He needed time to draw each arrow, and his swords needed a little work. For a man who played the character more than any other actor, he was ironically the only actor least comfortable in the role. Oliver Reed has great scenes as a vile bad guy whose valuable falcon is shot by Robin Hood in a funny scene. Directed by Terence Fisher. Hammer appeared in two other Robin Hood films: The men of Sherwood Forest and a challenge to Robin Hood.
Plot Snorkel (1958) :
The perfect murder is once committed by a teenage girl who gets into trouble when she solves her mother’s murder.
Paul Decker (Peter van Eyck) murders his wife in an intelligent, almost ruthless way: He knocks her down, shuts all the windows, doors and corners of the room, locks her up and gasses the room, but uses an underwater pipe attached to the house in a hatch hidden under the carpet (with pipes filtering fresh air out into the crawl space), and hides in the room under the carpet until his wife’s body is discovered by the maid almost a day later. There’s no denying that his wife’s death was suicide. A day later, Paul emerges from the crawlspace with an alibi and even a stamped passport that says he was in another country (yes, he’s a stone’s throw from France), but none of this matters because his daughter-in-law Candy (Mandy Miller) is angry with him. She already swears he killed her father. When his mother commits suicide, she vows to find out how he did it, even though the police insist it’s an open and shut case. But how did he do it? As Candy tries with all her might to figure out how her stepfather killed her mother, Paul begins to realize that the only way to stop her from solving the mystery is to kill her too. But that’s easier said than done, as Candy proves to be a surprisingly strong opponent for Paul, the cold-blooded killer.
An unusual thriller with a twist that works, Snorkel might even work in today’s market. It is striking that one immediately knows who the murderer is, but in 1958 it must have been astonishing to see Van Eyck portray such a malicious murderer who does not hesitate to kill the mother of a little girl, her dog and the girl herself if he thinks his secret will be revealed. He is truly one of the most ruthless and terrifying villains in a crime thriller of this type that I have ever seen, especially at the time. Guy Greene is a masterful leading man, and that’s something Hitchcock would have been proud of.
Maniac (1963) Conspiracy :
An American artist drifts to a small French village where he first falls in love with a beautiful young bartender, but eventually falls in love with the mother who lures him to get her husband out of jail.
A young French maid (played by Lillian Bruss) is raped in her village by a passing man. His father catches the rapist, tortures him to death and locks him up for murder. Years later, American entertainer Jeff (played by former Sindbad actor Kerwin Matthews) shows up in the same village with nothing to do and ends up in a dive where he is immediately attracted to waitress Annette (Bruss). Instead of following her mother Eva’s (Nadia Gray) advice to stay away from the American, Annette and Jeff begin to fall in love over the next few days, but Eva intervenes and lures Jeff with her worldly experience and charm. Jeff falls into Eva’s arms and soon becomes a pawn in her plan to use her to get her husband and cellmate out of prison. When he is caught, he finally realizes that Eva and her husband (and cellmate) are just using him, but it may be too late, as one of the two escaped prisoners is a maniac who will torture him to death to cover up his escape. Annette is Jeff’s only hope of dealing with his misfortune, but Annette must also face her mother, who is underhanded and domineering.
From director Michael Carreras, the inappropriately titled Maniac sounds a lot like a film noir, with a sensual romance, murder, and the gruesome torture and murder implied right out of the movie Hostel. The killer uses a blowtorch to melt the faces of his victims, which must have been a real eye-opener in ’63. Matthews has become a good and miserable hero, and there’s enough sex and violence to interest even the most jaded viewer, but it’s all implied, and it’s never shown as well or even better than in real life.
Die! Die! My Darling (1965) Conspiracy:
A woman whose fiancé died in a car accident is about to get married, but on a whim she visits her ex-fiancé’s mother to offer her condolences and ends up a prisoner in her own home.
Patricia Carroll (Stephanie Powers) has recovered from the loss of her former fiancé, who died in a car accident, and is now engaged to another man in London. While on vacation with her fiancé, she decides to go to the town where her late fiancé lived to pay tribute to her mother. She enters, cordially invited, and meets Mrs. Trefoil (Tallulah Bankhead), the mother of her late fiancé. The old woman doesn’t waste any time, presenting herself as a stern, authoritarian, and unabashedly severe woman, obsessed with reading Bible verses (but not knowing how to interpret them like a true Christian) and ruling over a dilapidated house full of terrified servants who want to chop off her head. Patricia soon realizes that she is a prisoner in Mrs. B.’s house. Trefoyle and that the old woman should correct her bad ways and honor her deceased son by preparing him for eternity. Patricia gets no help from the housekeeping staff (including young Donald Sutherland, who plays the mentally challenged gardener), and when she is locked in a room in the clock tower, she has nowhere to go. Weeks later, her horny fiancé comes looking for her, but with the lunatics who put her in jail to find him, Patricia may never get out alive….
Typical Christians in horror films are bigoted nerds with a cringeworthy performance by veteran actress Bankhead, who stands out from the silent films Die! Die! My Dear isn’t reinventing the wheel, but he feels claustrophobic and frustrated by the simplicity of its design and execution. It’s a sad story by nature, and while there is some redemption at the end, there is no real satisfaction in the way it unfolds. Director Silvio Narizzano’s elegant coloring and Richard Matheson’s uninspired script make this film a mixed bag.
Plot Terror of Songs (1961):
A British sea captain confronts the Tongs in Hong Kong after they kill his daughter.
A ruthless crime syndicate operating openly in Hong Kong in 1910 found its match when a British naval captain named Jackson Sale (Jeffrey Toon) was involved in an attack on Tonga for no apparent reason. His beautiful teenage daughter is brutally murdered by the Fong (who are known for cutting off fingers to make a point), causing Sale to embark on a revenge campaign that antagonizes not only the Fong, but also corrupt police forces. When Sale looks to really move up the Tong food chain (Christopher Lee plays the role of Tong’s Chinese boss), he makes an ally in the form of a deformed man who leads an underground resistance group whose sole purpose in life is to fight the Tong to the end.
The mildly shocking and violent action film The Terror of the Tongs contains enough gory knife stabs, finger snaps, close-range shots and fights to fill a Liam Neeson action film. For a film that’s only 77 minutes long, there’s a lot to love in this one, thanks to the relentless killings (a shocking finger snapping in the first scene, and a few minutes later a beautiful blonde woman is stabbed to death in her own room) and the sense of ruthless, merciless revenge that frames the plot. One of Hammer’s best action films, directed by Anthony Bushell.
The Bombay Conspiracy Stranglers (1959):
In the 1800s, the British East India Company sought to confront a secret death cult that strangled thousands of victims each year as a Kali sacrifice.
The secret cult of death in Mumbai has existed for hundreds of years in the service of their god Kali, and its members reach all levels of society, even the British Royal Navy. The captain, who was stationed in Bombay with the East India Company, was the first to discover the irregularities by which people disappeared, not one or two, but thousands a year. The captain (played by Guy Rolfe) insists that there must be a cult outside the region, but none of his senior officers believe him. After disturbing a few feathers and finding a crucial trail, his family is sentenced to prosecution and death. After being captured by a cult (think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which this film seems to have been inspired by), he is released after the goddess Kali intervenes on his behalf. When entire battalions are wiped out by the cult, leaving no trace, only one captain can take on the task of proving his case and stopping the cult once and for all.
Intrinsically fascinating and shockingly violent, especially for a film from ’59, The Bombay Stranglers is a true horror adventure of excruciating intensity, thanks to Terence Fisher’s excellent direction. The film is truly creepy and is certainly a model for the second Indiana Jones film. The gore and implied violence are incredibly disturbing (this was filmed in black and white, presumably so as not to see the purple blood), and the cult of death makes a lot of bad guys. I enjoyed every minute of it.
The Conspiracy of the Blood River Pirates (1962):
Ruthless pirates invade the island with a prisoner they have rescued from a penal colony. When they get in, they bet they’ll find treasure in the colony where their rescued prisoner lived before he was exiled.
The Huguenots who lived in France took control of the small island and turned it into a reformed and Calvinist area where their strict approach to their faith seems almost Puritan. The team leader is shocked when his son, a strong young man named Jonathan (Kerwin Matthews from the Seventh Journey to Sinbad), commits adultery with another man’s wife. As punishment, the group exiled Jonathan to a nearby penal colony for 15 years, where he was practically thrown in the garbage while doing hard and ruthless work under extreme conditions. He is tortured and starved, and by sheer luck Jonathan manages to survive in a mad race to the tropics, where he is rescued by a gang of dishonest pirates led by a ruthless captain (played by Christopher Lee). They see in him the possibility to use him as a guide in his native village, where according to them a great treasure is hidden. Jonathan leads them to his people, frees himself and tries to help those who have abandoned him against the invading pirates, but it becomes a bloody battle before either side declares victory.
Hamer’s attempt at adventure is surprisingly strong and vicious, with deadly piranha attacks (the first victim is a beautiful woman!), life-and-death sword duels, sermons of fire and silver, and an adulterous hero who does good. Matthews became the perfect hero and Lee became the perfect villain. Oliver Reed plays one of the pirates, but he has nothing better to do. Directed by John Gilling, it’s a solid dramatic adventure.
The conspiracy creates a forgotten world (1970):
Generations of the caveman tribe, seen from the perspective of its leaders, struggle to survive periods of growth and war.
A volcanic eruption wiped out a tribe of prehistoric cavemen. Soon after, leadership rituals are brought forward, and the new leader rises after killing his opponent. This man (played by Brian O’Shaughnessy) heads out into the desolate desert with his tribe by his side. At her side is Old Crone (Rosalie Crutchley), a witch who helps guide her and make important decisions, such as whether or not to choose a path or adapt to the environment. When the tribe meets the blond boy, they mingle and move on, and another chief brings him twin sons – a blond child and a brown boy – and we see how the father teaches his sons the ways of the world: how to hunt, how to survive, how to be prosperous. Dark Son (played by Robin John) is hated by his brother, who is the tribe’s favorite, and Honest Son (played by Tony Bonner) gets all sexy with women, including a new witch in the making (played by Marcia Fox) and a new tribe member – The Girl (played by Julia Agee) – who joins the tribe after Honest Son kills his girlfriend in battle. It all comes down to the day the father is killed by a horned beast; who will be the next leader?
If I had seen the world forgotten when I was younger, it probably would have changed my life the way Beastmaster and Sheena did. It’s a strange, slightly haunting and bizarre film about a caveman, with bizarre horror elements and a strange tone that floats just a little more than a memorable dream or nightmare. There is no dialogue in the film (only grunts), but that is not necessary. Like the next decade’s classic Quest For Fire, it doesn’t rely on the usual storytelling to tell its tale. The plot is simple and the screen shots (she was filmed in Namibia and South Africa) are authentic and stunning. This is probably one of the most definitive caveman movies ever made. There are lots of brief nude scenes (I’m not complaining here), and the violence is brutal and quite graphic. From director Don Chaffee (Jason and the Argonauts) and screenwriter Michael Carreras.
Yesterday’s Enemy (1959) Conspiracy :
A British brigade takes control of a Burmese village during World War II and discovers a plan by the Japanese. But when the wind turns, the British are at the mercy of the Japanese.
A small British brigade, including a journalist and a priest, takes control of the village of Toni in Burma during World War II: It is not an easy battle, but they kill Japanese soldiers and discover the crucial plan that the Japanese have to attack the British within two weeks. To understand these plans, the British captain (played by Stanley Baker) realizes and accepts that he must commit war crimes against the Burmese people, which does not benefit his men. Soon after, the Japanese conveniently invaded the village and the whole area and encountered British soldiers who realized too late what was going on: the Japanese killed most of the British and left only a handful of peasants whom they used as pawns, just as the British had done for the Burmese, proving that the two sides were almost identical in their military ethos.
A brutal and terrifying war movie that can make you depressed if you can’t stand the hard ending. Yesterday’s Enemy is anything but a very well made film directed by Val Guest. I can only imagine what the public thought in ’59: It’s totally unflattering to Britain and the war in general, and there’s nothing here that glorifies anything to do with the war.
Plot from Cash on Demand (1961) :
A cunning thief infiltrates the bank and convinces the manager that his family is being held hostage and demands that he empty the vault or his family will be killed.
Two days before Christmas, the bank opens its doors early in the morning, and the stern and obnoxious bank manager Harry Fordyce (Peter Cushing) makes life miserable for all employees – especially his immediate subordinate Pearson (Richard Vernon) – with petty accusations of embezzlement and disorder in the office. The first customer of the day, a collected man who calls himself Colonel Gore Hepburn (Andre Morell), immediately convinces Fordyce and Pearson that he is the manager of the branch and that he is conducting a systematic inspection of the bank branch. He tries to convince Fordyce that the people in his house are holding his wife and son hostage under threat of death, and that his family will be killed if Fordyce doesn’t help him open the bank vault and immediately empty its entire contents. In short, Fordyce did everything in his power as a bank manager to seize the bank’s assets from another man, but when Pearson called the police (as he should have), everything was turned upside down when Fordyce realized it was him.
A fairly classic heist drama in which Peter Cushing is put to the test – he’s beaten, humiliated and dehumanised – Money on Demand isn’t exactly a pleasant Christmas film, but it works for what it is. Sounds like an episode of The Twilight Zone. This is essentially a morality play. The whole movie takes place in a jar, and it gets a little boring towards the end. Director Quentin Lawrence.
The plot of Cry of Fear (1961):
A woman in a wheelchair returns home after the death of her father, but nothing happens as planned when her father’s body appears and terrifies her.
After learning of her wealthy father’s death, wheelchair-bound Penny Appleby (Susan Strasberg) returns home to settle her late father’s affairs with her stepmother (played by Anne Todd) and a sinister friend of the family (played by Christopher Lee). Penny is quite shaken by her father’s death, and when the old man’s body keeps appearing at night (sitting on a chair in her room in the dark, swimming in the pool, etc.), she is unable to get over it. Fortunately, she takes a romantic interest in another family friend (played by Ronald Lewis) who not only comforts her, but also quells her loneliness and sadness with his company and attention. But why does his father’s body keep turning up? Is she going crazy? Is there a conspiracy to make her look crazy so she can’t inherit her father’s estate? Or is there something else going on?
Scream of Fear is a truly amazing mystery shock that works very well if you don’t expect it to fire off a few quick shots. Strasberg is an excellent lead actress in the film, especially since she has to sit in a wheelchair for almost all of her scenes. Lee gives a good menace to the small supporting cast, and the film has a really vibrant ending. From director Seth Holt.
Never accept candy from a stranger (1960) Conspiracy :
A new family moves to an idyllic Canadian town to start a new life. But when their young daughter enters the home of a wealthy old man on an innocent pretext, her parents learn to their dismay that the old man has asked their daughter – and another little girl – to dance naked for him…. and that the two girls have conceded, leading to a messy trial in a town that has rallied around the old man to protect him.
Peter Carter (Patrick Allen) moves with his family from England to Canada to start a new life after being offered a job as principal of a new high school in a town where the blood of generations has permeated every aspect of city life, thanks to the Alderberry family, who run virtually all of the town’s affairs, including public policy. Pierre’s granddaughter, Jean, is playing with another girl next door when another girl invites Jean to Olderberry Manor to eat candy, causing the two girls to strip down completely and dance naked in front of Olderberry’s patriarch, Clarence (Felix Aylmer), an old bastard who likes to ask little girls to do things like this. John comes home and tells his parents what happened (without realizing it was wrong or bad), which leads Peter to call the police. What he doesn’t know at first is that the police are protecting the Alderberry family – and have been for generations – because the Alderberry family basically built the town from the ground up. Peter and his family have no idea that they have stirred up a hornet’s nest by reporting an incident involving their innocent daughter. In no time, they find themselves in the middle of a court case that will get them – and their daughter – killed in public. But if they don’t go through the grueling process and follow through, the old bastard could repeat the crime or make someone else’s kid worse off.
For a 1960 film, Never Take Candy From a Stranger is surprisingly confrontational and daring. Hamer’s treatment of the headlines is believable, even though the film’s opening credits proclaim that it is not based on fact … But it can be. The performances are all equally strong and solid, and the strangeness and taboo of the story may even go too far, but it has to have an effect. Directed by Cyril Frankel.
Camp on Bloody Island (1957) Plot:
The prisoners in Japan understand that if Japan surrenders, the Japanese will kill them all. When Japan surrenders, the POWs desperately try to escape or defend themselves before the concentration camp soldiers realize the war is over.
At the end of World War II, Japan had two concentration camps full of prisoners of war – one filled with British and Western soldiers and another filled with women and other selected foreigners from Asia – and for three long, arduous years, the camp residents endured unimaginable humiliation, torture, malnutrition, and the slow and painful death of their comrades, leaving none of them with any hope. Realizing that Japan has surrendered and that the war will be over before their cruel and sadistic captors realize it, the British prisoners know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Japanese will kill them all no matter what – including a nearby camp full of women (and a small boy) – they formulate a desperate plan to fight and escape, even if it probably means that many of them will be killed in the attempt.
Camp Bloody Island by director Val Guest opens with a shocking scene in which a disgruntled British soldier digs his own grave and is then riddled with bullets by a Japanese gunman – this immediately sets the tone for the kind of film that will be made. It’s incredibly realistic and cool, and for a film from ’57, it still has an indelible impact. There are never any false moments in the film, and the film pays particular attention to the details of the cruelest and most brutal treatment of the Japanese and the prisoners of war. Graphic, violent and visually stunning – the film runs just under 80 minutes and is sure to linger in the memory for a long time.
Stop me before I kill! (1960) Plot:
When a racing driver is involved in an accident, a head injury changes his personality to that of a murderer and puts his marriage at risk.
On their wedding day, race car drivers Alan Colby (Ronald Lewis) and Denise (Diana Cilento) are involved in a terrible car accident. The accident changes Alan’s whole personality and his wife develops murderous tendencies. To escape the growing stress of their marriage, they leave for France to have fun, but Alan brings with him his temper and his tendency to strangle Denise. Denise is surprisingly patient and understanding, and when they meet a French psychiatrist (played by Claude Dauphin) who thinks he can help Alan in his situation, Alan sees the doctor as a threat to their marriage, while Denise begins to ask for help more and more desperately as Alan becomes more violent and angry. As their vacation draws to a close, Denise begins seeing a private therapist, which angers Alan even more, who doesn’t really understand that Denise is just trying to save her marriage. Alan reluctantly accepts his private sessions with the psychiatrist, who slowly begins to work on his inner psyche in an attempt to cure him of an unusual personality disorder and homicidal tendencies. But what neither of them suspects is that the doctor has his own plans for the couple, which have nothing to do with Alan’s recovery, but everything to do with the meticulous plan to get Denise for him….
Just over two full hours, Stop Me Before I Kill! is largely based on the idea of trying to love and accept the main character, but it’s hard because he’s a jerk who keeps trying to kill his innocent wife, who loves him unconditionally. It’s a strange process to get involved in the plot, but the film also works as a kind of mystery/thriller when you realize that the film is trying to seduce you so that you feel comfortable with the plot it casually presents to you, only to reveal a twist at the end. In this regard, it’s a solid Hammer drama with a dark side, and directed by Val Guest, the film works on several levels.
Movie Old Dark House (1963) :
A sleazy American car salesman stays in a creepy old mansion full of strange people in England.
Through a series of events, an awkward car salesman named Tom (Tom Poston) stops for the night in an isolated old English country house and is welcomed with open arms by the house’s strange occupants, the female family. One of them is a surprisingly cute and incredibly sweet blonde (played by Janette Scott). Tom is dumbfounded, but the Femm clan is actually the Addams family or one of those funny midnighters from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. As the night progresses, Tom discovers that he cannot escape from the old, dark house, no matter how hard he tries, and he soon realizes that everyone in the house but him is crazy and wants to keep him as part of their menagerie.
The Old Dark House from eccentric director William Castle and Hammer is somewhat reminiscent of an old Abbott and Costello horror film, but is a strange and uninspired mixture of parody and frightening. Back then he could make the audience laugh, but today he seems outdated and lame. The film was shot in color but presented in black and white, but this film collection presents the film in color.
The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964):
Archaeologists unearthed the sarcophagus of an Egyptian prince and brought it to London, with disastrous results when the mummy awoke and began killing those who had brought him from sleep.
In 1900, a small group of archaeologists unearthed a sarcophagus in Egypt, and the benefactor of the dig – businessman Alexander King (Fred Clark) – immediately saw fit to exhibit the artifact in a traveling exhibition around the world, with the intention of making a fortune from the discovery. This bothers the locals who helped dig, but it doesn’t stop King from taking the mummy on a boat to London. Team captains John (Ronald Howard) and Annette (Jeanne Roland) don’t necessarily agree with King’s proposal, but they accept it anyway. On the way home, the team is attacked by Egyptians who think their plan is blasphemous. They are saved by a mysterious man named Adam (Terence Morgan) who seems to have an ulterior motive. Turns out Adam is the immortal prince – and brother of the mummified prince. When he intervenes, the mummy in London awakens and begins to kill those who woke him from his sleep.
A crappy mummy movie that could have used some more mummy attacks. Curse of the Tomb Mummy has a nice supernatural angle that works, but the ending is a bit showy and too practical on the nose. It’s like they invented the ending on the spot. At only 81 minutes, the film is still intense, and depending on your taste in mummy movies, this one is more than adequate. From director Michael Carreras.
This is the plot of The Damned (1962):
In England, a group of bikers accidentally become involved in an apocalyptic plot when they discover a secret government laboratory.
During his vacation, an American tourist with a small yacht meets a disturbed but beautiful young woman who tricks him into being robbed by her motorcycle gang, led by her trapped brother. A tourist named Simon (Macdonald Carey) wakes up bewildered and found to have been beaten up and robbed, but he carries on. Later, a young woman named Joan (Shirley Anne Field) tries to stop Simon again, but this time she is sincere and wants to escape life. Simon’s boat is pursued by his vengeful brother King (Oliver Reed), who claims to have killed an entire army to get his sister back and continue to control all her movements. On the run from the king, Simon and Joan end up on the coast, under a cliff, where they find a small laboratory full of strange children who seem almost to come from the other world and are innocent, totally unaware of the world around them. The children lived in a locked government building and were part of an intense experience that prepared them for a nuclear holocaust. When Simon and Joan (and later King) arrive, it puts everyone’s lives – including the children’s – in grave danger. When children turn to adults to rescue them from captivity, adults (even the king) feel responsible for the safety of these children, but their rescue can also pose a great risk to the world around them, as children are highly toxic when exposed to radiation.
Radically unique and unpredictable, These Damned is a devastating apocalyptic thriller that makes a pretty convincing statement. It looks like no other film ever made, and although it looks like a film genre, it ends up being something completely different and unexpected. It’s incredibly dark, but it’s really an incredible shot. It’s like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, only louder. The film is directed by Joseph Losey.
Mill Creek’s Hammer Films: The Ultimate Collection is a majestic and exceptional release that brings together 20 feature films from the Hammer Cinematheque, and although I have only seen and reviewed 18 of them, this 10-disc box set is one of the best releases in years. All films are beautifully presented in high definition (by far the best Mill Creek release to date), and there are six new audio commentaries, as well as new feature films, including Columbia Pictures’ Hammer, Actors of Hammer and two retrospectives. High marks for everyone.
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