This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Man Who Haunted Himself


After recovering from a car crash, Harold Pelham begins experiencing losses of memory, or so they seem, as people keep telling him about things he did yet he doesn't recall ever doing them. But it soon gets out of hand when he discovers he has a mistress. But is he suffering from amnesia, is he going mad or has he got a doppelgänger?

The Man Who Haunted Himself is a 1970 Associated British Picture Corporation production. It stars Roger Moore, Hildegard Neil and Alastair Mackenzie. It was directed Basil Dearden. It is based on the novel The Strange Case of Mr Pelham by Anthony Armstrong.

Clearly the best way to show someone turn bad is to have them undo their seatbelt and start speeding on a motorway. Oooh you bastard. So yeah, it appears almost as if Mr Pelham has become possessed as he was steadily driving at 50MPH with his seat belt on then just suddenly changed. But then something weird happens, we see a different car with him in speeding alongside him which then merges with the car we originally saw him in. Now from seeing this I instantly figured that I knew the twist ending. My theory is this; Parallel universe, an alternate Mr Pelham, a bad Mr Pelham has somehow crossed over into our universe and merged with Good Mr Pelham. That's my theory anyway. After the cars merge Mr Pelham then loses control of the car and crashes.

He's then rushed to hospital where a stupid surgeon does CPR on his stomach area, y'know cos he needs to get his stomach beating again. Duh!

Ooooh, now that's cool. They manage to revive him but the heart monitor shows TWO heart beats. But one of the surgeons dismisses it by smacking the monitor which then clears the problem up and begins displaying one heartbeat as usual.

Ooooh, Pelham drove off in his car, but then we see what appears to be another Mr Pelham sitting in another car watching. DOPPLEGANGER!

Haha, Pelham (played by Roger Moore, just in case you didn't know) mentioned James Bond when discussing commercial espionage, little did he know he would soon play that super spy in 3 years time. [Evil laugh. Not sure why, but an evil laugh seemed like a good end to that sentence.]

Oh, something is afoot. People have started mentioning stuff to Pelham that he hasn't even done, or has he? He doesn't remember. A guy even came up to him and gave him a fiver saying that's what he owed him as he beat some guy at a game of pool last week. On one hand you're potentially going mad, losing your memory or you've got a doppelgänger on the loose. On the other hand some guy has just given you a fiver for doing nothing. I call that a win.

Oh, shit is going down. As he entered his workplace he went to hand his hat and umbrella in but another hat and umbrella had already been handed in by Pelham (or a Pelham). Now he's certain someone is pretending to be him so he's hot on his tail. He runs from place to place following the trail until it takes him to the pool house, but he's not there. Dead end. Poor Pelham, maybe next time. There's a couple of other close misses, one time he's even on the phone to the other Pelham but he still doesn't manage to catch him face to face.

The other Pelham doesn't waste much time, he's been having his end away with a saucy young photographer, but poor innocent Pelham is there to get mixed up with the other one.

Believing himself to be going mad, Pelham checks himself into a hospital under the supervision of a psychiatrist. Whilst he's in there the other Pelham goes about continuing to live Pelham's life. When he's finished in the hospital the psychiatrist explains that Pelham is a repressed individual and that this split personality persona has been caused by that. So in order to avoid it happening again he must start expressing himself more, wear some brighter coloured clothing, live his life a bit more. And simply stop being so uptight.

Then Pelham manages to catch the other Pelham in his own home, but he's unable to prove who he is to his family as the other one uses his dress sense against him, stating that he'd never wear anything like that. Bloody psychiatrist! Then when he gets him alone the other Pelham explains that he's always been there inside him and the crash allowed him to get out. Whilst on the operating table Pelham was meant to die, but he managed to live this then created the situation of there being two of him. And as the other Pelham puts it; now one of them must die.

Whilst he's explaining to him there's a shot which absolutely has me mind boggled. This is a film from 1970 yet they have a shot where Roger Moore circles another Roger Moore, it's not split screen because he walks in front of him and behind him all in the same shot. That shot is brilliant for 1970, no wait, it's fantastic, I have no idea how the hell they have achieved it.

Pelham then does a runner and speeds off in his car in an attempt to contact the police. But the other Pelham follows in pursuit. Dazed and confused he begins seeing hallucinogenic images, then next thing we know the other Pelham who was behind him is now somehow in front of him heading straight towards him. So he swerves to avoid another crash and instead smashes off the bridge and heads towards the water. But whilst in mid air as the car plummets towards the water Pelham fades away inside the car. Don't ask me, I have no fucking clue. Next thing, the other Pelham stands and watches the car sink, suffers some chest pains as it sinks but then recovers and that's it. END.

I am so confused. Roger Moore, you sir have confused me. Many people sight this as a very under rated film. I wouldn't say so, it's ok but it's nothing special. I agree with the appreciation of Roger Moore's performance, he's good. After finishing The Saint he wanted to do something different he did another film and this one, the other one was some spy film, but this allowed him to play duel roles and allowed him to express his ability as an actor. Many of Moore's fans sight this as one of his finest performances. As for the film, I like the story, the plot is quite interesting but there's just some aspects of it that are so confusing as I've mentioned at various points earlier. But again the one thing I loved which also completely baffled me is that one single shot of the two Roger Moores I have absolutely no idea how they achieved that in 1970. Besides which British horrors and thrillers weren't exactly the biggest of budgeted films so I am so confused by it, but in a good way (I think). Overall, it's ok. It's definitely worth watching but prepare to be left confused. If nothing else you should watch the trailer and you will be sold on this film as I was, simply by the fact that this is a film starring Roger Moore with a moustache, and if that wasn't enough there's two of him. WAHEY!

The Man Who Haunted Himself 3/5

Friday, 15 July 2011

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed


After escaping being caught in one town Frankenstein moves on to another and begins his experiments once again. This time he acquires the help of a young couple, one of which is a doctor who works at the local asylum. In the asylum is a colleague of Frankenstein's who before having the chance to reveal how to freeze a brain without damaging it he went mad. But Frankenstein plans to cure his insanity in order to obtain the secret. Easy? Not bloody likely.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is a 1969 Hammer production. It stars Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones and Veronica Carlson. It was directed by Terence Fisher. This is the film in the Hammer Frankenstein series.

Straight into the action. A guy walks down a street then an arm brandishing a sickle from an unseen assailant pops out from around a corner and swipes his head off, a mass of blood gushes onto the wall. Awesome! [Note: as the scene develops it's revealed to be Frankenstein who cut the man's head off.]

You're a mean one, Dr Frankenstein. He overheard a young doctor who works at the asylum discussing with his fiancée about his drug trafficking. Using this to his advantage Frankenstein blackmails them into helping him with his experiments.

The Baron tells the doctor's fiancée to make him some coffee. “You don't need her. Let her go.” “I need her to make me coffee.” He's quite a bastard in this one. Although he did thank her for the coffee before going to bed, at least he has some manners.

Frankenstein's plan is to break a colleague of his out of the asylum and cure his insanity in order to retrieve information from him that he wasn't able to get because of his insanity. The information will allow him to freeze a brain without damaging the tissue. His reason for this is that the human brain is at it's peak of intelligence at the moment of death, and all we do is bury it in the ground to rot. What he wants to do is remove it and preserve it for future use; transplanting it into another body to continue the brilliant mind it once had.

If you are unable to inject your patient with a sedative, then punch him in the gut.

I hate that police inspector, I actually hope he gets killed. He's such an arse. He's sarcastic, snooty, smarmy and he has an annoying voice. Kill that bastard!

Holy fuck! Frankenstein is really dark and sinister in this one. Frankenstein rapes the doctor's fiancée while he's working at the asylum for Frankenstein. I'll repeat that, Frankenstein played by the lovely Peter Cushing rapes a woman. Frankenstein is somewhat darker in this film than he ever was in the other films. Quite an unusual but interesting approach to take on the protagonist of the story, I mean I understand he was always a bit of an anti-hero anyway but this is really sinister. Apparently the rape sequence was filmed against the wishes of Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson and even Terence Fisher, as it was the Hammer executive who wanted it putting in in order to keep the American distributors happy.

I love how Frankenstein always does his operations fully dressed in a suit, with just an apron covering part of the suit. He's even wearing the tie still, for God's sake.

Frankenstein manages to cure his colleague's insanity, but the wife of the man spots Frankenstein out and about. So she follows him back to the lodge where he's staying, but he welcomes her in and explains everything about how only he could cure his insanity and shows that it worked (what he doesn't tell her is that he transplanted the brain into another head, but she'll never know because his head is bandaged up, hahaha). He gives a demonstration that he is cured, and tells her she can visit any time she likes but he must stay in his care for a week, then after that they can start a new life together. He walks her to the door and as soon as the door closes he turns to the young doctor and says “Pack. We're leaving.” They then relocate to an old abandoned house that looks a bit like Dracula's castle.

The creation awakens and asks the doctor's fiancée for help but in fear she stabs him then he flees. When Frankenstein learns of what she has done he then stabs her. But the creation armed with the brain of a doctor is able to care for his wounds before escaping to look for his wife. But baring the face of another man, this can not end well.

The creation sets up a trap for Frankenstein knowing that he will come looking for him. He must choose to either face the police or face the flames. If he chances the flames then he also chances getting a hold of the creation's secret to freezing a brain successfully. He manages to retrieve the information and get out of the house, but the creation then grabs him and carries him back into the burning building trapping both himself and Frankenstein inside. END.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is an odd one, it's good but it's unusual in the sense of how sinister they decided to make Frankenstein in it. He's never been as sinister in any of the other films as he is in this one. Throughout the previous films he's been portrayed as a dedicated follower of science, willing to murder in the name of science, a slight hero-esque character, an almost father-like figure then in this he's just quite simply a bastard. He is quite easily able to blackmail, rape and murder. Which is such an unusual thing to do to a character who is the protagonist of the story. As I mentioned earlier I know he's meant to be an anti-hero but the things he does in this seem to push the boundaries of that concept quite a bit. Peter Cushing as ever is great, in fact it's always fun to see Cushing as Frankenstein because he usually is always seen as this lovely man and plays good guys, so for him to play an anti-hero is always great but in this it's an interesting change to see him playing a character who is a borderline villain. As for the story, it was good not the best story but it was simple, just Frankenstein wanting to retrieve some information from a man who is in a state that leaves him unable to tell him. That's another thing, the creation in this is quite possibly Frankenstein's biggest success. He isn't a monster like any of the others, he has a scar running around his head but his personality is fully intact he doesn't go about killing people, in fact the only violent act he does is to enact revenge on Frankenstein, but that's revenge not mindless violence. Overall, it's a decent enough Frankenstein film, not the best but it's certainly different from the others due to it's darker, more sinister nature and that alone makes it stand out amongst the others.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed 3/5

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Skull


Christopher Maitland, a collector and writer, is offered the skull of Marquis de Sade a French madman who wrote about horrific torture methods and such. But the skull holds a dark secret, it has evil powers and is able to possess whoever holds it. Can Maitland resist the power of the skull or will he fall victim to it's unrelenting evil?

The Skull is a 1965 Amicus production. It stars Peter Cushing, Patrick Wymark and Christopher Lee. It was directed by Freddie Francis. It is based on a short story by Robert Bloch; The Skull of Marquis de Sade.

First of all, look at the cast. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Michael Gough (but he only appears in one scene [sad face]).

Ooooh something is clearly afoot. Maitland and fellow collector (and friend), Matthew Phillips, had a bit of a competition going at the auction over a set of four sculptures of demonic figures. Ending in Phillips paying way over the odds for the bid, then when Maitland asked him why he paid so much when they clearly weren't worth it he replied saying he didn't know, almost as if he were under a spell.

Marco, an unscrupulous antiques dealer, comes to Maitland with a book all about Marquis de Sade, explaining about how he was a handsome young man before he began meddling with witchcraft. After that he changed and became twisted, he began writing books about sex, torture and the like. The following night, as he now knows he has Maitland's interest in Marquis de Sade, Marco comes to his house and presents him with the skull of Marquis de Sade. Then we learn that the skull has powers, it can possess the living, turn them evil and make them do the it's bidding. He tells Marco that he'll think about making the purchase and will let him know later.

I absolutely love that shot. It's a trait of Freddie Francis' even though he only used it in one other film (that I'm aware of), that being The Creeping Flesh. Still, very good shot.

As the plot develops, over a game of snooker Phillips tells Maitland that he had the skull and it was stolen from him, but he's glad it was stolen as it had power over him. For instance, the whole auction hoo-ha was all due to the power of the skull wanting him to get the demonic figures for a ritual that happens on the night of the new moon. So he warns Maitland against buying the skull telling him it's dangerous because he believes that Marquis de Sade wasn't mad at all, but in fact possessed by a demon, a demon that still inhabits the skull even after the man's death. He explains that on the night of the new moon the skull would move around as he would find it the next day out of it's cabinet which he locked the night previous to which only he has the key.

Even the shots panning and fading around Maitland's office are eerie because he collect some creepy fucking stuff. So the creepy objects mixed with the uneasy music don't help but make you feel a little unsettled. Just wait until the skull kicks off, jeez.

The skull begins to take effect on Maitland, giving him a bizarre and surreal hallucination about the police taking him to an empty room where there's a judge who makes him play three rounds of Russian Roulette before sending him into a room filling with gas and where the walls are closing in. And if that wasn't enough, the skull comes floating through the mist towards him. It's then that he wakes up screaming and realises he's in Marco's apartment building, but he doesn't know where Marco lives. Almost as if something was drawing him there. Ooooooh.

Against his friend's warnings Maitland heads to Marco's apartment to buy the skull from him, but when he arrives he finds Marco dead so he hides the skull in the cupboard and calls the police. Maitland then has another discussion with Phillips who once again warns him, explaining that Marco was killed on the first night of the new moon, and that tonight is will be the second night of the new moon and the satanic rituals. Again, against his warnings, Maitland heads to get the skull from it's hiding place but is caught by the landlord who tries to stop him, but the skull takes control and makes maitland strike out pushing the landlord off the top floor and plummeting to his death.

There's some brilliant shots in this film. One in particular is when Maitland places the skull in the cabinet and walks away but the camera remains looking at the skull and we can see Maitland's reflection in the glass cabinet turning back and staring at the skull. My description may not be doing the shot justice, and I can't get a screenshot as I have the Region 1 DVD which I can't play on my computer, so my suggestion is go and watch the film.

A baddie that is just simply a skull, so simple but so effectively scary. The shots of it slowly gliding through the air and placing itself in new locations just staring at Maitland are brilliantly creepy.

Oh no! Maitland got possessed by the skull and it made him go and steal the demonic figures from Phillips' house. But Phillips caught him so Maitland walloped him in the head with one of the figures. Maitland is now completely under the power of the skull, he even goes to kill his own wife. He is about to plunge the knife right into her chest but at the last moment catches sight of the cross hanging around her neck and manges to shake off the skull's possession. So he returns to his study and places the skull into a glass cabinet and wraps a holy relic around the handle so that the evil of the skull won't be able to touch it.

He thought he could stop the skull, HE WAS WRONG! The skull simply smashed though the glass and repositioned itself on the table, once again taking possession of Maitland. But again he managed to shake it off by remembering the cross and stabbed the skull right in the eye socket with the knife, then assuming it's all over goes to bed. Again, HE WAS WRONG. The skull simply locked him in his bedroom and appeared in there with him slowly approaching him as he screams. Then the next day, Maitland's wife wakes up to find her husband dead in the other room with a knife sticking out of his chest. The police inspect the crime scene comparing it to the Marco case, asking “What's the connection?” “Witchcraft?” “Not in this day and age...not in this day and age.” END.

The Skull is a great film, great acting from great actors, a great story and visually thrilling. I can clearly see how this film could have terrified people years ago, the sequences where the camera moves though the corridors with the skull slowly gliding before it is creepy as hell. In addition to the eerie tale about a possessed skull is the fact that Marquis de Sade was in fact a real person, so they've taken real facts and tweaked them a little to create a terrifying tale. Also an interesting bit of trivia, the skull of Marquis de Sade was exhumed from his grave in the asylum where he was buried for scientific analysis, but it was later lost and it's whereabouts are still a mystery today. There's nothing more really to say, except it's a really good film, so go seek it, find it and watch it.

The Skull 5/5

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Uncanny (REVISITED)


Writer Wilbur Gray visits his publisher to try and sell him the idea for his new book to him. A book that reveals the true terrifying nature of cats. To do so, he tells three tales of feline terror.

The Uncanny is a 1977 The Rank Organisation production. It stars Peter Cushing, Ray Milland and Samantha Eggar. It was directed by Denis Heroux.

Peter Cushing's Wilbur Gray doesn't seem to have a good relationship with cats. They don't like him and he's shit scared of them. This is all because Wilbur has knowledge, knowledge that (if it got out) would change the world for ever.

He arrives at his publisher's house and is left uneasy as he discovers he has a cat, so the cat is present for the whole time Wilbur is telling his three tales.


1912, a rich old woman dies and leaves all her earthly possessions to her huge collection of cats. The servant girl (Janet) seizes the opportunity to steal the will for her own personal gain. But the cats have other plans.

Nice bit of foreshadowing from the old woman. “That girl will be the death of me one day, I'm sure of it.”

The old woman missed out her nephew from the will (because I think he's a bit of a dick). But he's knocking about with Janet, so the plan is for her to steal and destroy the other copy of the will hidden in the old woman's safe, so that he gets all the money and Janet gets to be married to a “very, very rich man”.

Just when all seemed to be going well, she'd opened the safe and had hold of the will. Then a cat jumped on the bed and woke up the old woman who startled Janet making her drop the will on the floor. Before she was able to alert anyone to what Janet had done, Janet suffocated her with a pillow. But the cats were watching the whole thing. Believing her to be dead, Janet stopped pressing down on the pillow and turned around facing the other way. What she didn't see was the old woman had survived, oh wait no she didn't. I mean what the fuck? She clearly survived suffocation as she was able to sit up and grab Janet's shoulder but then she suddenly just passed out and died. Surely if she survived the suffocation then she should still have been alive after sitting up. So what the fuck killed her?!

When the old woman startled Janet she dropped the will on the floor so all she has to do is pick it up. Easy. Or is it? Every time she goes to pick it up off the floor a cat's paw comes from off screen and claws her hand. It just looks so funny though, it happens several times. Oh how I laughed. And to think I was terrified of this years ago.

AH! CATS! They all start pouncing on her and clawing through her clothes and her skin. So she takes refuge in the pantry. She spends several days in there, surviving on scraps of food and a jar of brown stuff that doesn't look too appetising, even she borks when she eats it.

These cats are fiendishly clever. They're like the Cravendale Cats with opposable thumbs, but minus the opposable thumbs. They rip open the post (or Mail for my American readers) that comes through the letterbox.

I'm assuming the brown stuff must have pushed her beyond her limits because not long after eating that she takes her chances amongst the cats, armed with only a bread knife she tries to get the will one last time. AH! The cats have been eating the old woman in order to survive. Then they kill Janet, she didn't stand a chance against man-eating cats. The old woman's nephew then comes to the house with the police (because there's been no reply at the house for days) only to find Janet dead and his aunty mostly eaten. Then he tries to get the will and the cats kill him too. They bite him right on the throat.


Wilbur gets even more anxious once his publisher lets the cat out and he sees it “talking” to the other cats. Presumably telling them about Wilbur and his knowledge.


Lucy's parents died in an accident and now she has to live with her aunt and uncle and their daughter Angela. She's been allowed to keep her cat because it's all she's got, but Angela isn't suited and soon becomes jealous of Lucy having a cat.

Apparently “Cats can talk, it just takes time before you can understand them.” Thanks Lucy.

Wow, Angela is really jealous of Lucy having a cat. Her mother said that Lucy is allowed to have a cat because her Mam and Dad died. So Angela asks “If my Mam and Dad die would I be able to have a cat then?”

Angela continues to try and steal Lucy's cat from her, it seems that if she can't have it then no one can. So she starts doing stuff around the house and blaming it on the cat until eventually her parents take it to get put down. What a bitch.

Angela is such a bitch! At one point she even shouts at Lucy “You haven't got a Mummy! You haven't got a Daddy! You haven't got anybody!” Oh I do wish someone would just use some black magic to shrink her to the size of a mouse and then stand on her. But like that's ever going to happen.

Even though Angela's parents took Wellington (Yes, the cat's called Wellington. Probably should have mentioned this earlier. Nevermind.) to get put down, somehow he must have escaped because on the night he turns up at the house. He even opened a book of witchcraft for Lucy to use. It essentially told her to use it. Bad kitty!

Oh what do you know. Lucy used witchcraft to shrink Angela to the size of a mouse, she let Wellington toy with her a bit then she stood on her with a splat and a crunch.


Wilbur continues to be fearful of the cat, now the publisher has let it back in the house after talking to it's cronies and it's just sat there watching him.


1933, the actor Valentine De'ath's (I know, he's called Mr. De'ath. But his initials are also VD) wife is killed during a death scene gone wrong for a film. So he gets his lover to replace her but his late wife's cat has a few bones to pick with him over that.

This tale is about an actor in the 1930s played by Donald Pleasence so why when Wilbur showed his evidence was there a photo of Donald Pleasence as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice? Stupid Cat Movie.

After Valentine's wife is “accidentally” killed by what was meant to be a prop pendulum blade thing, Valentine then recommended his wife's stunt double to replace her, she just so happens to be having an affair with Valentine.

“Oh, VD, I love you.” Yeah I laughed, the awkward pause after she said it added to that too. I wonder if it was intentional.

Fuck! Valentine's late wife's cat gave birth to some kittens, so he flushed them down the toilet. What the fuck? That's horrible! But it's ok, the cat then goes about exacting revenge on VD and his bit on the side. I don't fucking blame it. First of all it tried to kill him at work by chewing through the rope holding up a light which fell and narrowly missed him. VD and his lover have a few failed attempts at killing the cat so they leave out some traps before going to work. But this cat isn't stupid. Another Cravendale Cat.

At work they are rehearsing a death scene where she is killed via a box filled with spikes, but the cat is on hand to lock the safety door of the box so that she is actually killed by the spikes. In a fit of rage VD chases the cat off screen where we hear some screams from the cat. Next day, one of the film's crew members walks on set talking to VD who is sat in his chair. In response to VD not answering him he says “What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?” then he sees the cat dragging a tongue along the floor and that VD is sat in the chair dead with a mouth full of blood.


Wilbur's evidence suggests the idea that instead of human's being the masters and cats being the pets it is in fact the other way round. So he wants his book publishing so that he can get his word to the masses in order to warn people about cats and their manipulative ways. After Wilbur leaves, the publisher's cat who has heard the whole conversation stares at him until he eventually burns the evidence and then goes and gets the cat some milk then says “I can't deny you anything can I?” All the while Wilbur is chased by cats until he is eventually attacked by them, falls down some steps and breaks his neck. Poor Wilbur.

Right, The Uncanny. Well, it's ok. It's not great by any stretch of the imagination, the idea behind it I quite like. The whole taking something we see as one thing, in this case cats we see them as pets and then flips it on it's head to create this idea of horror that human's aren't the dominant species after all. But the problem there is you would assume this will be a collection of three tales where innocent people are killed by evil cats, but instead it's three tales of evil people getting stopped by the cats or the cats taking revenge on them. So from these three tales I'd say “Yes cats are fiendishly clever, but they're also like vigilantes helping the good people by stopping the bad people. They're like batman.” So the three stories kind of miss the point of the overarching story's theme. It's funny watching this now, because I remember being scared of this as a kid, it left me terrified of my own cat. I specifically remember the first story where the cats eat the old woman and being cautious of my cat for days wondering if it was going to eat me, suffice to say my cat has not eaten me... yet, but she still has time. Clearly the best bit of this film is Peter Cushing as the petrified Wilbur Gray, he's great. Even Donald Pleasence is a bit iffy in this but maybe it was meant to be a bit of an over the top performance, then again maybe he just couldn't be arsed. All in all, it's ok but not great, even if you really like Peter Cushing (LIKE ME!) it's not really worth your time. Peter Cushing is great but the film is just ok.

The Uncanny 2/5