Hysteria (1965)

"Too clever for it’s own good" was how this film was reviewed at the time, but to these jaded eyes, more used to your Se7ens and your Usual Suspects, it’s not all that smart.

Once more it’s a Hammer thriller, which involves someone being driven bonkers by strange goings-on. In this case it’s American "beefcake" Robert Webber, who is suffering from amnesia following a car crash and is trying to piece his life back together along with his dodgy looking psychiatrist.

Of course, when he’s offered the use of a fancy penthouse suite by a mystery benefactor, no-one bats an eyelid.

And when it turns out the penthouse was the scene of a murder six months ago, no-one seems to care.

And when our hero starts waking up in the middle of the night hearing ghostly voices arguing and finds bloody knives scattered around, still no-one gives a toss. It must’ve been something to do with the swinging 60s, I suppose.

Things start to come together during an elongated flashback sequence smack in the middle, when our hero turns out to be not quite as clean cut as first thought. Maurice Denham pops up too as a seedy private eye with a nice line in self defence.

There’s something quite nice about these little films – at least by having a twist at the end, it proves that someone’s given a certain amount of thought to the storyline – but the "twist" in this one has all the subtlety of a speeding train, and can be seen coming from just about as far off, too.

All of these films can trace their origins back to Psycho, and in Hysteria it’s really obvious. Still, you’ve got to admire the kind of film maker who thinks "if one shower scene got ‘em all going a few years ago, think how apeshit they’ll go when we bung in several of them!" And bung them in they did.

Director: Freddie Francis Writer(s): Jimmy Sangster

Cast: Robert Webber - Chris Smith, Anthony Newlands - Dr. Keller, Jennifer Jayne - Gina McConnell, Maurice Denham - Hemmings, Lelia Goldoni - Denise James, Peter Woodthorpe - Marcus Allan, Sandra Boize - English Girl, Sue Lloyd - French Girl, John Arnatt - Mr. James, Marianne Stone - Marcus Allan's Secretary, Irene Richmond, Kiwi Kingston


Last updated: February 23, 2010

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