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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars

on 29 April 2010
Five stars from me for this superb collection of Hammer suspenser's (1958-63).
This neat little set has six crisp black and white films from the legendary studio:
Cash On Demand-Stop Me Before I Kill!-The Snorkel-Maniac-Never Take Candy From A Stranger-These Are The Damned.
With minimal packaging and no booklet, it matters not, all the films are full length bright, clean and crisp transfers.
'Cash On Demand' is top of the list for me, a superb suspenser from (1961). A battle of wills enfolds when 'Colonel Gore-Hepburn' played by Andre Morell pays a visit to a small local bank posing as an insurance inspector. The bank manager 'Fordyce' is played by the ubiquitous Peter Cushing, both actors here excell in their performances as a two way band of intense and harrowing dialogue enfolds, for, Hepburn has come to empty the bank vaults... If Fordyce does not comply with Heburn's bidding then, his family will die.
A highly recommended set and I'd suggest acquiring them NOW-do not wait until the set is out of print!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 February 2016
Others reviewers have done a splendid job of reviewing these five early sixties (with another from 1958), black and white movies, so I shall be brief. We wanted the set purely for The Snorkel, probably not the best of the bunch for others, but this is the only one we've watched in full so far; however, I've been through all the others chapter by chapter, and they look very good - stylishly suspenseful, with actors you will know, and mostly set in overseas, attractive locations. No horror in the style of Dracula, just out of the mould dramas with that special quality and good direction Hammer specialised in. I shall watch them all in due course. (For a fuller 'taster', see the comments from Victor Vision below.)

Meantime, The Snorkel stars Peter Van Eyck, a sophisticated German actor, who murders his wife in a particularly creepy way. But lovely Mandy Miller (no longer the sturdy little girl of her fifties films, but well on her way to becoming a swan) plays the teenage step-daughter who is out to expose him. Lovely setting on the coast of Italy and direction that will keep you on edge, if not exactly jumping out of your skin; it's very much a mood piece, and its main appeal may be to fans of the actors, like me.

The other five movies also have that unique Hammer touch, stylish, some sexy, with good direction, eg, 'These are The Damned', directed by Joseph Losey and Stop Me Before I Kill from Val Guest. Beautiful prints, decent sound quality, and even the optional yellow subtitles are stylishly arranged so as not to obstruct the images.
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on 19 February 2016
An absolutely brilliant selection of Hammer psychological thrillers, there's not a bad film in this set and they look and sound excellent for the age.
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on 16 May 2010
This is a great 3 disc collection featuring some intriguing Hammer thrillers that were made in the 1950s and 1960s.

Here's a summary of each film:

Disc One
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Running Time: 108 minutes
Directed by Val Guest
Starring Ronald Lewis, Diane Cilento, Claude Dauphin, Bernard Braden, Francoise Rosay

Alan Colby, a famous racing driver, is badly injured in a road accident. Alan recovers but he has become prone to sudden bouts of anger and violence. After Alan tries to strangle his wife, he starts seeing a psychiatrist. As a result of the therapy he receives, Alan is seemingly cured of his trauma but then his wife mysteriously disappears....
RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Running Time: 80 minutes
Directed by Quentin Lawrence
Starring Peter Cushing, André Morell, Richard Vernon, Norman Bird, Edith Sharp

A fussy bank manager is hoodwinked by a suave criminal into assisting in the robbery of his own bank....
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Disc Two
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed by Guy Green
Starring Peter Van Eyck, Betta St. John, Mandy Miller, Gregoire Aslan, William Franklyn

Candy Brown is convinced that her stepfather, Paul Decker, is a murderer. She thinks that Paul killed her real father and that he has now killed her mother, who has been found gassed to death in their home, but nobody wants to believe her. The police think that Candy's mother commited suicide but Candy's suspicions about Paul grow stronger when she discovers some diving equipment in Paul's room....
RATING 4 out of 5 stars

MANIAC (1963)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Running Time: 86 minutes
Directed by Michael Carreras
Starring Kerwin Mathews, Nadia Gray, Donald Houston, Liliane Brousse, Norman Bird

An American artist, living in France, shacks up with a woman and her stepdaughter. The woman's husband (and the girl's father) has spent the last four years in an asylum for the brutal retribution killing of a man who assaulted his daughter but he won't be in there for much longer....
RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Disc Three
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Running Time: 81 minutes
Directed by Cyril Frankel
Starring Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer, Niall MacGinnis, Alison Leggatt

A British man called Carter moves to a Canadian town with his wife and his 10 year-old daughter to take up a teaching job. Soon after they arrive, his daughter and her friend have a disturbing encounter with a local old pervert. Carter and his wife are determined to bring the man to justice but the problem is that the man is part of a well-known family that owns pretty much everything (and everyone) in the town. The eventual court case is predictably a travesty and the dirty old git gets off scot-free, giving him the opportunity to strike again....
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Runnung Time: 95 minutes
Directed by Joseph Losey
Starring Macdonald Carey, Shirley Ann Field, Oliver Reed, Viveca Lindfors, Alexander Knox

A secret military base houses some very unusual children that are being kept for a special purpose....
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

This collection is an essential purchase for any fan and collector of Hammer movies and it proves that Hammer weren't just about making horror films. I know that it's a cliché but they don't make 'em like this anymore, and some might say that it's a good job, but I love these type of films. My favourite of this particular bunch is "Maniac" but all of these films are well worth a look.
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on 7 March 2011
Negatives out the way first - the DVD case is rubbish, 3 discs on one spindle is a no-no,(however, for me, still preferable to flipper discs). There's also no extras (aside from the trailers, which are good to have) and one film I found incredibly annoying (Stop Me Before I Kill, which takes an interminable 108 mins to reach the most predictable of conclusions). However I've given this 5 stars and for good reason. Cash on Demand is a fabulous showcase for Peter Cushing and Andre Morrel, it's a pitch perfect twisted Christmas tale and worth the price on its own. The same could be said of These are the Damned, a wonderfully atmospheric and ambitious dystopian sci fi/teddy boy delinquent mash up, if you can imagine such a thing. Next for me is The Snorkel which plays a bit like Night of the Hunter with a glowering villain menacing an innocent kid that nobody believes. Really good performances all round here and the titular gimmick is a good one. Never Take Candy From a Stranger is more melodrama than suspenser but still a solid watch and the ending pulls no punches - this film will still shock many sensibilites. The remaining feature Maniac is pretty good, if a little too heavily indebted to Les Diaboliques, right down to the French country setting and attendant satanic females.
No problems with disc playability and picture quality for all 6 movies is excellent. Highly recommended purchase.
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on 30 April 2010
I just watched Cash On Demand, a film I have waited a long time to see and I must say this set is highly recommended just on that film alone, please Sony, let's have more of your Hammer titles soon. The previous sets have all been superb!!
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on 15 August 2014
Over 3 discs, with two films to a disc we have relatively early monochrome Hammer of solid, thoughtful, twisty tales. The pictures appear to be in original aspects of various widescreen, with quality very good throughout with only The Snorkel looking a little overly grainy & fuzzy at times. But for your money you would be very hard pressed to locate such serving of quality acting across the board, crisp vivid camera work, or an array of interesting denouements, at one banquet after another. There is also the deft use of Mediterranean locales or the deliberately constrictive play upon a tight set, then there is a distinct woodland location that adds a fairytale menace to one tale, that recalls the Hammer later colour works where adults are stalked or gothic peasants roam, here given a down to earth dramatic immediacy & dare i say, intensity.

All of the films firmly establish the plots, tell the tales efficiently, granted that Maniac is a touch slow on occasion, and perhaps we can see where The Snorkel might go, and the girl or children not being trusted or believed has been seen a number of times. Yet in this excellent set of films, we have some of the best examples of not only tight storytelling, entertainingly presented by craftsmen considering the budget limitations, but also solid all round acting professionalism & as ever, a dark critique of the bourgeois delusions and denials that fuel hypocrisy, which Hammer farmed for a few decades. The treatment of the themes herein is never trite, nor facile, but leaning more toward Alfred Hitchock with perhaps a modest brush against Roald Dahl at times.

Having solid picture, solid sound and a full bag of themes, this set can appeal to not only Hammer fans who can espy Cushing, Morrell and a hoard of british character actors being superb, but any wishing a change from the modern garish clash of noisy machinery that can often oust the plot in favour of spectacle.
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VINE VOICEon 16 April 2012
As someone who is not really into horror movies, but whose husband is a fan of classic horror, I know rather more than I ever expected to about the genre. For instance, I know that if it's a Hammer production, I'll probably like it even in spite of the vampires and whatnot.

The Icons of Suspense brings back six Hammer movies that don't fit the horror or noir or adventure categories (which Hammer also produced.) There are no wolfmen or supernatural beings, just nerve-wracking tension in the tradition of psychological thrillers. These six selections feel like B-movies, low key without any big stars or big budgets. Because of an arrangement Hammer Films had with an American producer in the 1950s, when these movies were made, all of the British movies feature at least one American actor.

The video and sound quality are good, unlike the uneven quality of the Hammer Noir series, which are also fun to watch nonetheless.

Here are quick thumbnail descriptions of the six movies, listed here in my order of preference, starting with my favorites.

Cash on Demand - Inspired by A Christmas Carol, features Peter Cushing as a Scrooge-like bank manager whose bank is the target of an elaborate robbery undertaken by a charming con-man. Great acting all around, keeps you guessing through a series of twists and turns.

The Snorkel - Despite the atrocious title, this is a very tense tale of a murderer whose stepdaughter is on to him but can't convince anyone else that he's evil. Nice location shots in the south of France. This had the most perfect ending of any movie I've seen in a long time.

Maniac - Another movie filmed on location in France, this time the wild southwest. An American who's just been dumped by his rich girlfriend finds himself stranded in a small town, where he meets a beautiful teenager and her attractive mother. He's quickly ensnared in a web of some kind, but pretty boy is slow on the uptake.

Stop Me Before I Kill - A race car driver who's recovering from an accident has barely controllable urges to strangle his new wife. The couple meets a friendly (perhaps too friendly?) psychiatrist while visiting the French Riviera. What's triggering the homicidal compulsions? Who can he trust?

These Are the Damned - This is supposed to be some kind of lost classic, with teddy boys and Oliver Reed in an early role. I found it a messy mix of noir and sci-fi with social commentary tossed in. Entirely unbelievable and too long.

Never Take Candy From a Stranger - A cautionary tale whose title is completely non-ironic. A British family newly arrived in Canada becomes embroiled in controversy when a cartoon-like dirty old man, a scion of the community, leches after the nine-year-old daughter, who was lured by the promise of candy. Melodramatic and too long.
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on 18 February 2011
'Never Take Sweets from a Stranger' is a powerful little drama about ethics versus old-established wealth in small-town Canada. Real-life stories about the sickness of paedophilia is now so prevalent in the world, I didn't expect a 1960 film about it to be anything rattling, and sat down to watch it with a half-hearted attitude. I was gripped almost from the start, not only by the fine acting but by how well-scripted it was. An immigrant couple from England take on the 'look-the-other-way' mentality of the small town they settle in when their young daughter has an encounter with an elderly paedophile, whom the town has always known about but done nothing, because his family built the town and made it the prospering community it is. A true case of old money holding a town and its police force firmly in its pocket. Of course the term 'paedophile' wasn't used back in the day. Pervert was the closest they came to describing a sick old sod unnaturally obsessed with little girls. Once the court case is over, the ending is fairly predictable, but no less dramatic for it. The first fifteen minutes will tell you if this one's for you.

I'm guessing this film was considered bold at the time, dealing with a subject that made most people uncomfortable and was, therefore, swept under the rug. Bravo to its makers. A somewhat weak title for this compelling gem. Highly recommended.
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on 27 November 2012
This is for Cash on Demand only.

I think it is criminal that such a film does not have a standalone dvd release.
Cash on Demand further highlights the supreme acting abilities of Peter Cushing. Here he plays a scrooge like bank manager who is duped into handing over the banks money two days before Christmas by a suave professional bank robber. For the most part the film is par excellence, great dialogue, direction and little things going on in every scene. The ending for me was a little far fetched and disappointing, but it didn't take too much from this very rare delighful film.
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