'Hammer Films Double Feature - Volume Four'
(Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer, Niall MacGinnis, Ann Todd, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: In Volume 4 of this wonderful series from Hammer Films we get 'Never Take Candy From a Stranger' (A serious and horrifying chiller about a small town terrorized by an elderly child molester luring young girls into his mansion with sweets, but no official will stop the perverse man because of his powerful family until it's too late).
And 'Scream of Fear' (A young wheelchair-bound woman returns to her father's estate to find he's away on business, but she keeps seeing his dead body in various places. Her stepmother and other house guests employ a plan to drive her insane and take her inheritance).
Blu-ray Verdict: In 'Never Take Candy From a Stranger' (1961, B&W Not Rated - Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee, John Serret, Leonard Sachs ), if you think all Hammer films are vampires and werewolves and Frankenstein - think again!
Hammer made all kinds of films. No doubt the Cushing/Lee films are classics, but some of these lesser known thrillers are masterpiece low budget films.
This film is especially terrifying if you are the parent of a child under 15. A new family moves into town, the father taking up post as the new schoolmaster. Their young daughter makes friends with a local girl and all seems well. But this town hides a decades old secret.
As with many small towns there is one family that is the town patriarch. The founders. The family that has their hands in every pie in town. And this patriarchal family wields their power like a hammer.
They also have a family member with problems that they expect the town to turn a deaf ear to. Felix Aylmer, a wonderful British character actor gives a sit on the edge of your seat performance as the creepy Clarence Elderberry, Sr., without uttering one single word in the entire film.
Without being explicit, gory, or using foul language, Hammer presents a gut wrenchingly terrifying film that also serves as a timely public service announcement!
Another great one to watch on a cold, dark, stormy afternoon. This movie will stick with you and make you ever aware of your children's whereabouts.
Then comes 'Scream of Fear' (1961, B&W Not Rated - Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee, John Serret, Leonard Sachs). Crippled Susan Strasberg goes to France to visit her father (who she hasn't seen in 9 years) and her new stepmother (Ann Todd).
When she gets there she's told her father is away on business. Suddenly, she starts seeing her father's dead body all over the house--but no one else does. Is she going mad or is her stepmother trying to drive her crazy and swindle her out of her inheritance? Handsome chauffeur Ronald Lewis tries to help her find out.
The plot is old and some of the twists have become predictable since 1961, but this is still a very good suspense film. It's well-acted, there are some very scary moments (I jumped three times) and it's imaginatively directed in eerie black and white by Seth Holt.
A scene done in a pool is downright horrifying. An early Hammer horror film that's been unfairly neglected. Also, there's an interesting scene with Lewis in a very skimpy bathing suit--surprising for its time and especially for Hammer-- they usually pushed female sexuality, not male.
In truth, it benefits from being shot in black and white, the acting is very good from all the cast, and there are some scary moments; the aforementioned swimming pool being an obvious one. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.