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Ghost Canyon

'Hammer Film Collection - Volume Two'
(Peter Cushing, Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers, Donald Sutherland, Julie Ege, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2016 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: For more than four decades, Hammer Films unique blend of horror, science fiction, thrills and comedy dominated countless drive-ins and movie theaters. Enjoy this impeccable second volume collection from the darkest corners of the Hammer Imagination!

DVD Verdict: The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) - Starring: Peter Cushing, Eunice Gayson, Francis Matthews, and Michael Gwynn. Peter Cushing reprises his famous role as Baron Victor Frankenstein in this horror classic. If you have seen, Curse of Frankenstein, then you must follow up with this excellent sequel. The magic which is in the Hammer Films allows that aura to continue in this follow-up story. In this second chapter of the infamous doctor who nearly wills his creature to live, we see that he has somehow escaped death by guillotine.

Once again, we have the superb talents of Peter Cushing, who played Dr. Victor Frankenstein, in the original and successful 1957 version. In that prequel, the good doctor was sentenced to death and last seen approaching the guillotine. In this follow-up film, we see, he has somehow survived execution, and has chosen a new name; Dr. Victor Stein. Arriving in a new city, he sets up practice but is shunned by the city's medical authorities, who send a representative to demand he join their union. Francis Matthews plays the envoy, Dr. Hans Kleve, a fine doctor and a member in good standing with the union.

The Snorkel (1958) - Starring: Peter van Eyck, Betta St. John, Mandy Miller, and Grégoire Aslan. This is an early British Hammer film, but it was filmed in Italy and co-scripted by future Italian director Antonio Marghareti, so it also in some ways anticipates the later Italian giallo thrillers, mostly in its enjoyably absurd plot. In the creepy opening scene a man (Peter Van Eck) puts on a scuba mask (it's technically not a "snorkel") and hides under the floor boards in order to gas his sleeping wife from inside her locked room.

The police naturally think its suicide, but the murdered woman's teen daughter (Mandy Miller) comes home from school and immediately suspects the truth--naturally since she earlier witnessed her step-father drowning her father. Everyone thinks she's crazy, of course, (even after he bumps off her little dog, "Toto", too). Her governess (Betta St. John )meanwhile is torn between her loyalty her apparently delusional charge and her attraction to the suave, seemingly distraught widower.

Never Take Candy From a Stranger (1960) - Starring: Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer, and Niall MacGinnis. 'Never Take Sweets From a Stranger' is yet another small scale and less popular Hammer film, but still one that gives the studio's more well respected efforts a run for their money. British family the Carter's have emigrated to small town Canada and are rocked when it is revealed that 9 year old Jean (Faye), and her friend Lucille (Frances Green), were asked to dance naked for candy at the home of elderly Clarence Olderberry Senior.

Filing an official complaint, parents Peter (Allen) & Sally (Watford) are astounded to find the town's denizens are reluctant to believe the Carter's take on things. It becomes apparent that the Olderberry family were instrumental in the building of the town and the family has much power within it. With the town closing ranks on the British outsiders, there's a real chance that a suspect will go unpunished and maybe strike again?

Maniac (1963) - Starring: Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Donald Houston, and Liliane Brousse. 'Maniac' is one of the lesser known of Hammer's "psychological thrillers" made in black and white around the 1960's. It's not fiendishly clever enough to be really memorable but it does have a few interesting twists. Basically the plot sees Kerwin Mathews stranded in a small French town where he books into a hotel and starts to feel attracted to the owners sexy young step-daughter. Soon after this, he also starts feeling attracted to the more mature but still sexy step-mother as well!

Apart from this love triangle, there is a further problem, in that the missing family member in this scenario is the father, who is currently locked up in an asylum for a violent blow-torch murder committed years ago ... now but he wants out, and our hero is about to be roped into aiding in his escape!

Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) - Starring: Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers, Peter Vaughan, and Donald Sutherland. Scandal queen Tallulah Bankhead rips into the role of Mrs. Trefoile, ultimate mother-in-law from hell! She's a snarling, hypocritical religious fanatic who invites her dead son's ex-girlfriend Patricia (Stefanie Powers) to her secluded country home, then imprisons her in a room with steel bars over the windows. She thinks Patricia is a sinner because she wears red make-up and clothes ("The devil's color!") and decides to "cleanse her soul" through torture with scissors, a gun, broken glass, starvation and, worst of all, droning daily bible sermons.

he also has an altar down in the basement where she plots to sacrifice Patricia so her soul will be reunited with her dead sons! A maid (Yootha Joyce) and two handymen (including Donald Sutherland in an early role as the retarded Joe) assist her.

Creatures the World Forgot (1971) - Starring: Julie Ege, Tony Bonner, Brian O'Shaughnessy, and Robert John. 'Creatures the World Forgot' is the third and final entry in the Hammer caveman films. It differs from "One Million Years BC" and "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" in that it is an attempt at realism. There are no dinosaurs in this movie. The setting is firmly grounded in North Africa. Some of the opening shots show rock paintings which appear to be from the Tassili area, circa 4,500 BC.

An attempt to portray a functioning caveman culture is presented. Gone are the bikinis and beach girls of the other two movies ... well, almost. For the most part, the costumes seem fairly realistic. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of pretty women to look at, and their costumes seem to fall away frequently. Gone also is the made up language of 'akeeta' and 'necro.' In this movie, its all about grunts and gestures, which work quite well. Focused on a tribe of cavemen, a pair of twin brothers become rivals for leadership of the tribe following the impact of a devastating earthquake. These are all Full Screen Presentations (4x3 Aspect Ratio) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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