Friday, July 8, 2011

Paranoiac (1963)

If I ever would marry a violent alcholic it would have chosen Oliver Reed, mostly because he was extremely handsome in a psychotic way, a very talented actor and knew how to insult people in a classy way. If he wasn’t a ladies man I would have taken him for gay and married him on the spot. But he’s dead and we can only look in the mirror for a very fascination career. Once he was one of the new hot actors in the Hammer stable and did a fantastic werewolf. But it’s in Paranoiac he shines, he shine like a fucking diamond.

I’m not gonna tell so much about the story, but it has similarities with other psychological thrillers from the same time. It revolves around a difunctional family that dwells in the sorrow of the two parents that died so many years earlier. One of the sons killed himself and now suddenly someone who claims to be that son shows up again, much to the anger of the other brother, the psychotic alcoholic Simon Ashby (Oliver Reed of course). And then there are twists and turns…

First of all, the UK blu-ray from Masters of Cinema looks absolutely stunning. The sharpness, the quality is absurd. I have never seen a Hammer production look SO good before. Paranoiac is a weird choice to release on blu-ray, because it’s not the most visual Hammer film. It’s in black & white, low-key in both performances and story and relies heavliy on a brilliant and simple, but yet effective, script by Jimmy Sangster. Like another twist-filled thriller, A Taste of Fear, Paranoiac has a story that grabs you from the beginning and fucks around with your head until the end. The knife-wielding character showing up after half the movie is extremely creepy, but is just one of many twists. Sangster, or the produceras, must have been inspired by another famous thriller that was released a few years before this one, but I won’t mention that title because it would spoil a few twists.

But personally I like when the story is so complex that they don’t have to travel around the world to tell the story. Most of this is around the same house and sets, with a few outdoor scenes, but not that much really. This is a movie telling a story, not showing off fancy camera movements. What I can complain about is the ending, which is very sudden and never gives time to any after-thoughts or analysis. No mistunderstand here, it ties every story-knot, just too fast.

Far from Dracula and Frankenstein, this is another smart and lovely Hammer thriller which I can recommend to everyone here.


Wes M said...

Hey Fred, just found your excellent blog courtesy of the Dark of the Sun thread over at the cultmovieforums...

After reading your review of Paranoiac, I wish I had picked up the Blu-Ray in the last Masters of Cinema website sale. Definitely next time !

Ninja Dixon said...

Thanks and welcome! I've added your blog to my links and updates! :)

You have to give the blu-ray a try, it's fantastic and makes a great movie even better.