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Cul-de-sac (1966) | When Roman Polanski went rogue on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne – and won!

cul-de-sac

Plagued with production problems, director Roman Polanski’s 1966 black comedy Cul-de-sac should never have worked – but it did and remains a critical high-point of his early career. Having won plaudits and good box-office receipts for his first British-backed film, the psychological horror Repulsion (starring France’s new star Catherine Deneuve), Polanski was given free reign for his follow-up which is now available in a restored HD transfer edition as part of The Criterion Collection.

Cul de sac

Set on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne on the Northumberland coastline, Polanski fashioned a morbidly absurdist bourgeois-baiting tale with his long-time collaborator Gérard Brach.

Happening upon an castle on the coastline, wounded American gangster Richard (Lionel Stander) and his gravely ill accomplice Albert (Jack MacGowran) decide it an ideal hide and so take hostage its owners – retired businessman George (Donald Pleasence) and his restless French wife Teresa (Françoise Dorleac).

But the claustrophobic setting and long wait for help to arrive sets in motion increasingly disturbing games involving sexual and emotional humiliation between captor and couple that escalates into terrible violence…

Cul de sac

When Cul-de-sac was released in the UK in 1966 (check out the premiere clip below), audiences really didn’t take to the film (probably on account it was too bleak and not the psychological horror that they had hoped). But when it then won the Golden Bear at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival, it quickly gained a new appreciation – and so it should.

Cul de sac

From its outset, Polanski had faith in bringing his bleak comedy of manners to the big-screen and against the odds and by going rogue he achieved it.

A typically British summer (rain, snow and storms) and the wrong tides held up shooting, while method actors Stander and Pleasence caused ructions on set, and Polanski was accused of driving his cast and crew to exhaustion, hypothermia (MacGowran) and near death (Dorleac almost drowned) in order to finish the film to his exacting standards. Even the locals began to resent Polanski and co’s presence (especially in the local pubs).

Meanwhile, the film’s fed-up backers (Compton Films’ Tony Tenser and Michael Klinger) eventually shut down production after it overrun its budget– but not before Polanski had the film’s powerful 8-minute one-shot climax involving a Tiger Moth plane in the can.

Cul de sac

Donald Pleasence is in his element as the dotty fed-up George, and his performance ranks as one of his best (alongside his alcoholic doctor in 1971’s Wake in Fright). Françoise Dorleac is also perfectly cast (also at the last minute) as the hippy-like Teresa – and her character is the total anti-thesis of her sister Catherine Deneuve’s sexually repressive character in Repulsion. Then there’s the gravel-voiced Lionel Stander (who’d go onto play Max in TV’s Hart to Hart), who is outstandingly repellent as the chief thug. Tragically, Dorleac died in a car accident a year after appearing in the film.

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The other star of the film is Holy Island and the surrounding landscape, made luminous by Gilbert Taylor’s stark black-and-white photography – and the inclement weather (those skies are divine, especially when shot day for night).

And alongside the rich visuals is Krzysztof Komeda’s jaunty score that lends the film a sense of carnival and menace, two elements that are that the heart of this caustic satire (which would look terrific if it were adapted for the stage like Polanski’s follow-up film, Dance of the Vampires). Watch for Jacqueline (billed as Jackie) Bisset, briefly on screen in one of her earliest roles.

THE CRITERION COLLECTION RELEASE
• Restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Roman Polanski, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Two Gangsters and an Island: the 23-minute 2003 Blue Underground documentary (23min) about the making of the film, featuring interviews with Polanski, producers Gene Gutowski and Tony Tenser, and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor. Also participating are production designer Voyek, continuity Dee Vaughn and actor William Franklyn
• Archive TV interview with Polanski from 1967 (this is a fascinating insight into the young director’s cinematic vision about alienation, sex and his genuine dislike for the bourgeoisie)
• Theatrical trailers
• Plus, booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thompson

 

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Paranoiac! (1962) | Oliver Reed is in high spirits in the vintage Hammer chiller

Paranoiac (1962)Legendary hellraiser Oliver Reed may be better remembered for his drinking antics than his acting credits, but I think a reappraisal of the spirited thespian’s cinematic roles is long overdue – especially after watching this 2010 release from Eureka Entertainment.

Paranoiac (1962)

Having made his name in Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf in 1961 after a string of minor roles – including playing a camp chorus boy in The League of Gentlemen – and five years short of achieving stardom as Bill Sikes’ in Oliver!, Reed gives a terrifically OTT turn in 1962’s Paranoiac! – the third of Hammer’s psychological thrillers to be penned by Jimmy Sangster (The Curse of Frankenstein).


Loosely adapted from a 1949 crime novel by Brat Farrar, this Psycho-inspired chiller sees Reed take on the role of the greedy, egotistical Simon Ashby, the spoilt heir to a family fortune. Janette Scott (of Day of the Triffids fame) is his mentally fragile sister Eleanor, while Sheila Burrell plays aunt Harriett, who acts as the siblings’ guardian following the death of their parents. With the family fortune about to be split, Simon psychologically tortures his sister in a bid to have her declared unfit. But his plans come royally unstuck when his supposedly dead brother Tony (Alexander Davion) returns home…


Paranoiac (1962)

Twists and turns abound in this gripping chiller that fuses an Agatha Christie-type mystery with gothic horror scares – particularly a ‘what the Hell’ moment involving the family chapel, a wheezing organ and a very creepy masked figure – and adding a dash of fratricide, incest and insanity for good measure.

Paranoiac (1962)

As the deranged Simon, Reed is a stand out and the scenes where he is drinking and lashing out are weirdly prophetic. Making his directorial debut is Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis, who has a real eye for creating scenes of suspense – helped greatly by the eerie lighting and the stunning Dorset locations.

Eureka Classics‘ 2010 Blu-ray and DVD release features a stunning restored Cinemascope HD transfer, along with a music and effects track and trailer as extras, and this is a must-have for your Hammer collection – and one to include alongside the Final Cut release of Hammer’s follow-up chiller, Nightmare, which I reviewed here.

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Nightmare (1964) | Hammer’s unsung psychological thriller is a heart-pounding game of two halves!

Nightmare (1964)Best known for her roles in the 1960s classics, Women in Love and Dr Who & the Daleks, British actress Jennie Linden made her big-screen debut in Hammer’s 1964’s Nightmare, which get its first-ever UK Blu-ray release from Final Cut Entertainment.

Nightmare (1964)

Aged just 23 at the time, Sussex-born Linden was hand-picked by Hammer’s producers to replace Julie Christie for the role of troubled teenager Janet ,who is haunted by memories of witnessing her mother killing her father when she was a child.

Expelled from boarding school, Janet is sent home to High Towers, a vast country mansion, to live with her guardian Henry Baxter (David Knight). But when the nightmares persist, Janet starts to loose her mind…

Nightmare (1964)

Originally given a title that gave away the film’s shock reveal 45-minutes into the story, Nightmare was Hammer’s fourth psychological thriller to be written by Jimmy Sangster, who wanted to move away from the Gothic horrors he was best known for.

Like 1961’s Scream of Fear, 1962’s Paranoiac and 1963’s The Maniac, Nightmare shares its DNA with Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, while returning director Freddie Francis and Hammer’s in-house production crew imbues the gripping mystery with lashings of atmosphere, especially those initial 45-minutes, where the film’s Grand Guignol horror tropes come out to play.

The film’s second half, which plays like a straightforward whodunnit, may not be as polished as those early scenes in which an excellent Linden brings pathos and hysteria to the fore, but it does give Moira Redmond, playing Janet’s nurse with a hidden agenda, a chance to strut her stuff.

Keen eyed fans might recognise actress Clytie Jessop, who plays David Knight’s scarred wife – she was the spectral Miss Jessel in The Innocents.

Nightmare (1964)

This cracking little chiller originally went out in a double-bill with The Evil of Frankenstein, but has remained in the shadows of its better known siblings, like Paranoiac! This new Blu-ray release, however, which looks and sounds superb, is the perfect opportunity to pay it a revisit, and hopefully gain a new appreciation. It also benefits from three insightful extras.

Nightmare (1964)Jennie Linden Memories: A lovely 13-minute chat with the actress – who famously dared to say ‘No’ to Ken Russell – conducted at her home on the Isle of Wight.

Madhouse: Inside Hammers Nightmare: A 13-minute look at production with insights from The Hammer Story author Kevin Barnes, English Gothic author Jonathan Rigby and others.

Nightmare (1964)Nightmare in the Making (26min): Hammer historian Wayne Kinsey retraces the history of the thriller from concept to release, and includes archive interviews with screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, art director Don Mingaye and actress Jennie Linden (using elements not used in her own interview).

Available from Amazon

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That Cold Day in the Park (1969) | This forgotten gem from American master Robert Altman is electrifying

That Cold Day in the Park (1969)

Before he found fame with M*A*S*H, Robert Altman crafted the unsettling 1969 psychological thriller, That Cold Day in the Park, which gets a UK Blu-ray/DVD release from Eureka Entertainment.

That Cold Day in the Park_3


Wealthy thirtysomething spinster Frances (Sandy Dennis) lives in a stiflingly bourgeois world of elderly suitors and domestic routine. But when she invites a seemingly mute and homeless hippy (Michael Burns) into her Vancouver apartment, her seemingly spontaneous act of charity reveals pent-up desires that soon turn into neurotic delusion.


That Cold Day in the Park_1

Sandy Dennis’ measured performance drives this compelling tale that anticipates Altman’s ‘women on the verge’ films Images and 3 Women. Giving audiences an early taste of the director’s anti-genre approach to cinema, it eschews the camp hysterics of the Grand Dame Guignol of Whatever Happened to… Baby Jane and Aunt Alice for subtle subversiveness. And this is manifested through Dennis’ troubled Francis, whose repressed feelings are met with humiliation and sexual trauma that sends her careering over the edge, while the fate of Burns’ free spirited stranger proves that nothing in life is ever truly free.

That Cold Day in the Park_2

Coupled with the gripping performances of the two leads is László Kovács’ dark, but luminous photography and Altman’s experimental visual touches (voyeuristic long lenses, distorted reflections and drifting zooms) that lends the psychological drama its all-pervading atmosphere of unease that builds and builds until the harrowing final scene.

Part of Eureka Entertainment’s Masters of Cinema Series, this dual-format edition includes a new high-definition transfer and an enlightening interview with Altman on Altman author David Thompson.

 

The Uninvited (2009) | Emily Browning fears for her life in a brilliantly twisted tale of creeping terror

The_Uninvited_2008

Catch the psychological thriller on BBC1 HD today at 11.50pm (Sky 101/141, Virgin 101/108, Freeview 1/101, Freesat 101/108)

FEAR MOVES IN
Nodding its hat to the South Korean cult hit A Tale of Two Sisters (on which it is based), as well as The Others and Orphan, 2009’s The Uninvited is a classy looking thriller boasting gorgeous cinematography, that harks back to the Technicolor days of Leave Her to Heaven, and a great lead in Emily Browning, who actually looks like Gene Tierney’s younger kid sister.

The Uninvited (2009)

High praise indeed, but Browning, who went on to cult success in Sucker Punch after this film, is mesmerising as troubled self-harmer Anna, who has just been released from a mental hospital after slashing her wrists because she could not get over witnessing the horrific death of her mother. Returning home, she finds Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), the nurse who cared for her ailing mother, is now her father’s new girlfriend, while little sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) is fearful that Rachel is taking over. When a background check uncovers that Rachel is not her real name and Anna starts having visions that Rachel killed her mother, the two sisters set out to unmask Rachel as a murderer…

The Uninvited (2009)

Cue: loads of suspense and creeping dread as you find yourself hoping goody two-shoes Rachel gets her just desserts. I won’t say anymore, as I don’t want to spoil the exciting twists and turns of this brilliant chiller. Oh, and Christopher Young’s score is just divine. And whatever you do, don’t watch the extras on the UK DVD until after you have seen the film, because the climax will have you choking on whatever snack your munching on.

The Uninvited is available on DVD, can be rented online from Paramount Movies UK

The Falling (2014) | This beguiling British mystery owes a debt to Picnic at Hanging Rock

The Falling (2014)

Set in a rural British girls’ school in 1969, director Carol Morley’s The Falling explores issues of female friendship, desire and hysteria in a beguiling tale about a mysterious fainting sickness that spreads amongst the pupils.

The Falling (2014)

Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams is Lydia, a confident, questioning youngster infatuated with her best friend Abbie (Florence Pugh) who discovers she’s pregnant to Lydia’s (incestuous) brother, Kenneth (Joe Cole). When Abbie dies suddenly after a fainting spell, Lydia and her school mates begin to exhibit the same symptoms, while their teachers – including Greta Saatchi’s grouchy Miss Mantel and Monica Dolan’s chain-smoking lesbian Miss Alvaro – impassively look on. Is it just a case of attention seeking or is there something else stirring?

Echoing themes from The Moth Diaries, Heavenly Creatures and most especially Picnic at Hanging Rock (the girls watches stopping in unison is just total rip), this British indie is certainly bold and beautiful to look at, but it’s not quite as brilliant as those films from which it draws its inner magic.

It’s also quite rambling and disjointed, which may add to the slow-burning tension, but some might struggle to make it to the end. Maxine Peake, who plays agrophobic mum Eileen, and who sports a beehive similar to Rachel Roberts’ in Hanging Rock, is the one to watch (even though she says very little).

The Falling is out on DVD and Blu-ray from Metrodome in the UK from 24 August

The Medusa Touch (1978) | Richard Burton is mad as hell in the trashy telekinetic disaster

The Medusa Touch Blu-ray

‘I am the man with the power to create catastrophe!’
Misanthropic novelist John Morlar (Richard Burton) is possessed with the power to move objects and cause the death of anyone who stands in his way.

When Morlar is left in a critical state after being savagely beaten in his flat, French exchange detective Brunel (Lino Ventura) seeks out Morlar’s psychiatrist Dr Zonfeld (Lee Remick) to research Morlar’s history. But delving into Morlar’s past, Brunel unearths chilling evidence of his destructive telekinetic powers, from the deaths of his nanny and parents, to the burning down of his boarding school and the crashing of a passenger airliner over London.

Convinced of his powers, Brunel learns Morlar’s next target is Minister Cathedral and the assembled Commonwealth Heads of State, including the Queen. But its only when Brunel fails to avert that disaster that he discover the true horror of Morlar’s power is YET to happen…

The Medusa Touch (1978)

‘I will bring the whole edifice down on their unworthy heads’
Directed by Jack Gold (TV’s The Naked Civil Servant) from a script by Oscar winner John Briley (Gandhi), this screen adaptation of Peter Van Greenaway’s 1975 novel combines Omen-styled supernatural suspense with the thrilling action of an Irwin Allen disaster movie. Cynics might chuckle, but The Medusa Touch is trashy fun with the rich purring of Richard Burton, a spectacular collapsing cathedral, and a starry cast all in the offing.

With wild, staring, bloodshot eyes, Burton overacts outrageously in a role that film critic Kim Newman (who supplies the audio commentary) calls his ‘best screen work of the 1970s’. Mind you, I think he fared better in 1977’s Equus, which only helped us all to forget the horror turkey that was The Exorcist II: The Heretic. Adding continental flair to the proceedings is famed Italian actor Lino Ventura (whose detective was made French in order to secure finance the film), while Lee Remick provides a nice tie-in with The Omen, which she appeared in two years earlier.

You’ll have great fun picking out the famous faces amongst the cast, including a young Derek Jacobi, future Sherlock Jeremy Brett, and reliable Scot, Gordon Jackson. There’s also a Theatre of Blood connection with Harry Andrews playing the Assistant Police Commissioner and in a bizarre bit of casting Michael Hordern as a fortune telling psychic. The film’s music, meanwhile, is by Michael J Lewis, who composed the wonderful score for the 1973 Vincent Price-starred black comedy horror – and one can only imagine how the Merchant of Menace would have handled Burton’s role?

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Ironically, it’s in the film’s supposedly comic dialogue where film is at its best. His character’s scathingly vitriolic dissection of his faithless wife and the British judicial system is a standout – made even more dramatic intoned, as it is, in Burton’s brooding poetic brogue.

Even though the cathedral in the climactic scenes was intended to be London’s Westminster Abbey, it was named Minister Cathedral because it was filmed at Bristol Cathedral and the director didn’t want people to be confused by it. I still was, and had to look it up. The model plane used to crash into London’s Center Point tower (not identified in the film) originally resided in a airline office foyer.

The Medusa Touch (1978)

THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
The film is presented by Network Distributing, as part of The British Film collection, in a shiny new High Definition transfer made from original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio, and features the following special features which were originally included on the 2006 Special Edition DVD.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio commentary with director Jack Gold, Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
• Destroying the Abbey: behind-the-scenes footage
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Image Gallery
• Booklet by Kim Newman

The Shout (1978) | Alan Bates gives his loudest performance in the bewitching and bewildering British occult thriller

The Shout (1978)

A FILM OF INTENSE PERVERSITY – THE MADNESS OF THE MIND
While on scoring duties at a cricket match in the grounds of an asylum in the village of Lampton, author Robert Graves (Tim Curry) is introduced to one of the inmates, Charles Crossley (Alan Bates), who proceeds to tell Graves a strange and terrible story about how he met one of the players, Anthony Fielding (John Hurt)…

After inviting himself into the Devon cottage home of Fielding and his spirited wife Rachel (Susannah York), Crossley tells Fielding of the strange gift he learned while living amongst a remote Aboriginal tribe: he can kill anything and anyone just by shouting at them. Sceptical yet enthralled, composer Fielding, who also dabbles with experimental sound recording, agrees to a demonstration – and gets the shock of his life. But is Crossley’s tale fact or fiction?

The Shout (1978)

IT’S JUST NOT CRICKET!
The Palme d’Or-nominated occult thriller The Shout is without doubt one of the strangest titles to emerge out of late-1970s British cinema. With an eye on creating an art house film that cineastes could muse over, producer Jeremy Thomas (this was his second film) hired Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski (on the back of his excellent underground cult drama Deep End) to weave his magic on a sinister 1924 short story from Robert Graves (of I, Claudius fame). The results are bewildering and bewitching in equal measures.

The Shout (1978)

Skolimowski took the job primarily because he wanted to film a typically English cricket match. He does just that by fashioning a Pinter-esque drama with supernatural overtones set in the windswept sand dunes of a coastal Devon. To give the spooky tale its quirky edge, Skolimowski incorporates Australian Aboriginal mythology – which was used to great effect in Peter Weir’s disturbing 1977 apocalyptic thriller The Last Wave. While its debatable that Weir’s film influenced Skolimowski, his thriller certainly evokes Jonathan Miller’s 1968 BBC TV adaptation of the MR James ghost story Whistle and I’ll Come to You, especially in Mike Molloy’s serene photography of the north Devon coastline, and 1961’s Whistle Down the Wind, which also featured a stranger (also played by Alan Bates) insinuating himself on a family in a remote location.

The Shout (1978)

The Shout itself is a heady explosion of sound effects that would have impressed in its day, especially in cinemas where the new 4-channel Dolby Stereo had been installed. The film’s soundtrack, meanwhile, was supplied by Genesis’s Michael Rutherford and Tony Banks. Also impressive is the cast: Alan Bates, fresh from TV’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, oozes masculine charm as the brooding, bellowing stranger, who may or may not possess shamanic powers; Susannah York, who’d do Superman next, plays the restless, often naked, Rachel with elegant ease; and John Hurt gives an understated performance as her wayward husband. Also in the mix is Tim Curry in one of his few straight-acting roles, playing a fictionalised Robert Graves; and a very young Jim Broadbent making his film debut as a hospital inmate.

On the flipside, however, I was left confounded. High on menacing atmosphere but low on substance, The Shout takes the long way round to nowhere. Even Skolimowski’s skilful direction can’t make up for the film’s many loose ends – especially the ‘shocking’ anti-climax. Still, this peculiar film is one to muse over – again and again.

The Shout (1978)

THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
The Shout is presented by Network Distributing, part of The British Film collection, in a brand-new High Definition transfer made from the original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio. The special extras were originally included on the 2007 DVD release, except for the interview with producer Thomas, which is exclusive to this release.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Interview with producer Jeremy Thomas
• Audio commentary with Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
• Original theatrical trailer
• Textless material
• Image gallery
• Original press material PDFs
• Booklet

White of the Eye (1987) | Donald Cammell’s rarely screened psycho drama is arthouse cinema sublime

White of the Eye cover

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HUNTER AND A KILLER… IS HIS PREY
In the former copper-mining town of Globe, Arizona, a woman has been found brutally murdered in her home. Detective Charles Mendoza (Art Evans) travels from Tucson to investigate. High on his list of suspects is Paul White (David Keith), an opera-loving hi-fi repairman whose wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty) soon has good reason to fear her husband is not be all that he appears…

Donald Cammell's White of the Eye

ANOTHER ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE
With its über cool 1980s style magazine imagery, grainy flashbacks, rapid edits, sublime steadicam shots and other artistic flourishes, White of the Eye is certainly not you run-of-the-mill slasher, and greatly echoes director Donald Cammell’s best-known work, Performance, which he made alongside Nicolas Roeg – another maverick 1970s director with penchant for the bizarre.

Donald Cammell's White of the Eye

Heaped with symbolism drawing on Apache Indian lore and the black holes of astrophysics, the desert-set thriller speaks more about metaphysics than mystery, nevertheless it’s an accomplished, enthralling piece of arthouse cinema, and gives Cathy Moriarty and David Keith their career-best performances. Set to an eclectic score co-written by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, White of the Eye is a dazzling, hypnotic trip into mind of one of cinema’s true one-offs.

Donald Cammell's White of the Eye

THE UK ARROW VIDEO RELEASE
The UK dual format release of the restored print (taken directly from the original camera negative) is the first time that the film has been released on Blu-ray in the UK.

Arrow Video’s Francesco Simeoni said: ‘Donald Cammell was such an unfortunate filmmaker, side-lined by critics who thought Nicolas Roeg was the creative force behind Performance, projects which would never come to fruition, studio interference and personal problems, his life was arguably more famous than his films. White of the Eye is possibly his most problem free film, though even this film suffered cuts, which we have included, although sadly no sound could be found. Though the film was cut, Cammell never commented, at least publicly, about his dissatisfaction with this decision by distributor Cannon. With a gorgeous new restoration of the negative and a bevy of supplements, we are very proud to make this sensational film available to the UK once again.’

THE EXTRAS
Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance documentary (73min, 1998)
• Commentary by Donald Cammell’s biographer Sam Umland
The Argument (1972), Donald Cammell short with an optional commentary by Sam Umland
Into the White:  an interview with co-cinematographer Larry McConkey
• Deleted scenes, with an optional commentary by Sam Umland
• Flashback scenes before the bleach bypass process was applied
• Original opening credits featuring John Diehl, an actor cut from the final film
• Theatrical trailer
• Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Brad Stevens and Sam Umland

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The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) | Basil Dearden and Roger Moore’s lost British classic resurfaces on Blu-ray

The Man Who Haunted Himself
STALKED BY FEAR AND TERROR – NIGHT AND DAY!
After a life-saving operation following a car crash, London businessman Harold Pelham (Roger Moore) wakes up to find his more extrovert double has been released and is now taking over his life – both at the office, where his firm is undergoing a merger, and in his private life, where an attractive woman claims to be the married CEO’s mistress. Determined to prove the doppelgänger exists, Pelham sets out to track his double down…

The Man Who Haunted Himself
In his last pre-Bond film, Roger Moore gives one his finest performances in this taunt and gripping psychological thriller, directed by acclaimed veteran director Basil Dearden, that has been rarely seen since its brief cinema release in 1970.

Known for his cheeky turns in The Saint and The Persuaders!, this film showed Moore could play it straight, and he does so here with careful restraint. Indeed, Moore cites the role of the stuffy corporate Pelham undergoing an almost supernatural existential crisis as being one of the only times he really acted.

While Moore manages not to raise his trademark single eyebrow, it’s Freddie Jones, in one of the film’s most visual arresting scenes, who gets to ham it up as an eccentric psychiatrist. The frenetic score, meanwhile, from Michael J Lewis (whose 1973 Theatre of Blood score uses similar thematic devices) only serves to heighten the film’s haunting, trippy, disconcerting atmosphere.

The Man Who Haunted Himself

Not surprisingly, the film’s downbeat story and skewed themes didn’t exactly have cinemagoers rushing to see the movie. But Moore, in the DVD commentary with the film’s scriptwriter, the late Bryan Forbes, cites poor marketing and distribution as the real factor behind the film’s failure.

The Man Who Haunted Himself is a lost British classic that deserves more respect, and this new high definition restoration is surely the first step towards rediscovering a true cinematic gem. And I’m with Moore that this film is so deserving of a sequel.

The Man Who Haunted Himself

THE UK DISC
The 2013 Network release features a HD restoration from original film elements in its 1.75:1 theatrical aspect ratio on both Blu-ray and DVD. The special features include a 34-minute music suite of Michael J Lewis’s score, a commentary from 2001 with Roger Moore and the late Bryan Forbes, original theatrical trailer, four image galleries, including storyboards, and promotional material PDFs. The DVD also features the full frame 4:3 as-filmed version of the feature.

The Man Who Haunted Himself

DID YOU KNOW?
Besides Moore, the film’s big stars were a 1969 Rover 3.5 Litre Saloon (P5B) and a Lamborghini Islero 400 S (GTS), which were driven by Pelham and his double. The Lamborghini was sold in 2000 to a private dealer. Tragically, the film’s 60-year-old director Basil Dearden died in a car accident a year after making the film.

The Man Who Haunted Himself also screens on The Horror Channel in the UK (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 139).

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyRPOIFF4pE%5D
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