HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
February
Taking of Beverly Hills, The
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Shiraz
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Vendetta
Brimstone
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
Flashback
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
Flesh Feast
Gerald's Game
Crocodile Dundee II
Baaghi
   
 
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
   
 
  Demons of the Mind Head trauma a la HammerBuy this film here.
Year: 1972
Director: Peter Sykes
Stars: Robert Hardy, Paul Jones, Patrick Magee, Michael Hordern, Gillian Hills, Shane Briant, Kenneth J. Warren, Yvonne Mitchell, Virginia Wetherell
Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 3 votes)
Review: By the seventies Hammer horror was on the wane. A key example of how wearisome their formula had grown can be found in The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), wherein Peter Cushing spends bloody ages fashioning a single silver bullet - only to fire…and miss. The studio tried to experiment, resulting in self-conscious (but fun) camp (Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)), missed opportunities (Seven Brothers against Dracula (1974)), and the needlessly dour (Straight On Till Morning (1971)). Certainly the most promising avenue was psychological gothic horror, of which Hands of the Ripper (1971) and this much underrated gem are fine examples.

A terrible curse afflicts the house of Zorn. Baron Friedrich (Robert Hardy) is torn between a supernatural explanation for the madness plaguing his children, Elisabeth (Gillian Hills) and Emil (Shane Briant). Meanwhile, several local girls are being murdered, their bodies sunk in the lake by the family’s faithful servant, Klaus (Warren). Elisabeth escapes her father and creepy Aunt Hilda (Yvonne Mitchell) to tryst with idealistic student Carl Richter (Paul Jones), who takes an interest in curing her strange malady. But the villagers are stirred into action by a ranting priest (Michael Hordern) and Baron Friedrich’s faith in demented mesmerist, Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) yields disaster.

Written by Christopher Wicking (Scream and Scream Again (1969)), Demons of the Mind tweaks Hammer’s epic metaphysical conflict between good and evil into unsettling, psychological dimensions. Instead of the usual monsters we have two, frail flower children slowly being driven mad by sexual repression, psychological torture and suffocating parents. There are no wise, rational Peter Cushing-style father figures. Science is represented by a scheming charlatan, while religion takes the form of a babbling, possibly insane priest, each brilliantly played by Magee and Hordern. If there is a flaw, it’s that while Wicking and Peter Sykes deconstruct conventional horror film morality, they fail to provide any substitute. Jones’ cloddish, ineffectual hero is part of a long line of dullards in seventies Hammer fare, the exceptions being David Warbeck in Twins of Evil (1971) and Horst Janssen in Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1972). A similar hindrance is the plummy overplaying of Robert Hardy, in a role Hammer offered to Paul Scofield and James Mason as a means of highlighting what an unconventional and prestigious project this was meant to be.

It didn’t work. The film was practically thrown away by its distributors and Wicking and Sykes did not return until their similarly ambitious and afflicted To the Devil a Daughter (1976) drove the final nail in Hammer’s coffin. While the film walks a daring tightrope between art house and exploitation, some critics firmly entrenched in either camp believe it works as neither. Certainly, its determination to deliver the exploitation goods - opening as it does with Elisabeth’s nude liaison with Carl - makes for a disorienting story-structure, but Arthur Grant’s colour drained cinematography and a creepy psychotherapy scene involving bar girl Inge (Virginia Wetherell) show some care taken to craft a deeper tale. Shane Briant’s pallid, pretty-boy frailty and Gillian Hills’ wide-eyed, willowy beauty make them two of Hammer’s most affecting “monsters”. The much-loved (by me, anyway) starlet from cult children’s show The Owl Service (1969) showed a propensity for threesomes in Blow Up (1966) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), but fans should seek her in the ultra-rare giallo: Hot Lips of the Killer (1974).
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3389 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: