Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hammer Trading Monsters For Suspense


Hysteria (1965) Puts Another Amnesiac In Harm's Way

MGM-Elstree was a buzzing hive in 1964 when partnered with Hammer for Hysteria, another (and last) of B/W thrillers done by the horror specialists to feed off success of Psycho. Jimmy Sangster had written most of that group; now he would produce as well. This was likeliest a subcontract between Metro and Hammer, as Hysteria has belonged to the former since '65 release and is currently available from Warner Archive. MGM needed product to distribute and hired Hammer to supply it. There's little about Hysteria to identify it as a Hammer film. The company was transitioning out of Bray House and losing some of its distinctive identity in any case. To shoot at Elstree and London locations made Hammer product indistinguishable from others of similar type. Bob Lippert could have sent a lead man like Hysteria's Robert Webber over and gotten result same as chillers Witchcraft (Lon Chaney) or The Earth Dies Screaming (Willard Parker). Webber was functional if not charismatic; he's an amnesiac who might have killed during blackouts. There are bloody knives and a shower murder, these having more practical use in trailers and publicity for Hysteria than in the narrative itself. Sangster said later that he'd gotten tired of this stuff, and director Freddie Francis confessed it was a miserable six-week shoot (Webber's misbehavior, among other things). Wayne Kinsey tells the story with fascinating detail in his Hammer history book. There's no hint of mod or swinging London among drab backgrounds captured here. Even Webber's penthouse flat has lingering air of postwar austerity. Variety said Hysteria should please "at the bottom of a double bill," where it sat mostly behind Signpost To Murder, another Metro suspenser, or Hammer's She remake, also MGM handled in the US.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

Counted the days until I could see the latest Technicolored Hammer Dracula or Frankenstien. Zombies, gorgons, mummies, snake/lady hybrids... those were the main attractions for this monster crazy kid. Yet now, decades later, the main nostalgia pang I feel thinking about those grind house double features is for the bottom of the bill, those wonderful black and white Hammer thrillers. I suppose an adult could see those twist endings in NIGHTMARE and SCREAM OF FEAR coming all the way back in the lobby, but to an excited twelve year old this stuff was super classy! HYSTERIA is not one of the best, but it's not a bad swan song... I also caught this recently on Warner Instant. Now, how about an item on my favorite, THE SNORKLE!

9:27 AM  
Blogger b piper said...

I like THE SNORKLE too, a nice early Hammer with Bray atmosphere and a suitably macabre ending.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Assembling any kind of reasonably complete collection of Hammer horrors hasn't been the easiest thing to do, given how rights to the films are scattered all over the place. There's not always a lot of rhyme or reason to how some of these have been released to the home video market. The Universal horrors benefit from being under the same corporate ownership. The Hammers are here and there, some with owners who seem to regard them as unloved stepchildren, not worthy of the TLC they're willing to give their in-house product.

1:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016