From Powerhouse Films Indicator series comes the limited edition box set of Hammer Volume Two Criminal Intent. Four classic thrillers from the UK are released on Blu-ray for the first time! Uncensored theatrical cuts with a ton of special features in this box set limited to 6,000 units. Read on to find out more!
The Films: Cash On Demand
Cash On Demand is a 1961 black and white thriller centered around a bank robbery in a small town in England. The film is directed by Quentin Lawrence, a director I only knew about through Mystery Science Theater from his film The Crawling Eye. Thankfully Cash On Demand is not only way more interesting and professional but it’s more of a focused study on a character with touches of Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s set more like a chamber play so that most of the story takes place within a small building with only a couple rooms.
The film is practically a who’s who of recognizable British actors, especially Hammer favorite Peter Cushing. Cushing plays Bank Manager Harry Fordyce in a bit of a departure from what I have typically watched him in. He is a bit miserly and is all professional and punctual. So much so that his workers fear they won’t get a Christmas party at work this year. He is basically only concerned with the running of the business and has no time for personal matters, even asking one of the ladies in the office to remove her holiday greeting cards from her desk.
André Morell plays Colonel Gore Hepburn, a man from the Head Office of bank security sent to check in on the branch to rate their procedures for insurance purposes. At least that is what he leads us to believe. Morell is a fantastic actor, a man who has worked with giants like David Lean and Stanley Kubrick and was a mainstay on British television for decades. Having an actor of his caliber across from Cushing is a pleasure to watch.
The cast is rounded out by Richard Vernon (Goldfinger, A Hard Days Night), Norman Bird (Lord of the Rings cartoon, First Men in the Moon), Barry Lowe (The Quatermass Xperiment), Kevin Stoney, Edith Sharpe, and Lois Daine. Thankfully on this release Indicator has included both versions of the film, a shorter U.K. theatrical release and the extended U.S. version. While not using many Hammer regulars I feel like this is one of their better straightforward thrillers. It does have the feel of a good 60’s TV show but the lower budget isn’t really a detriment to the type of story they are telling. I found the movie compelling, interesting and it had a lot of heart. If you care at all about the actors involved you will want to check out this one.
Cash On Demand Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with author David Miller and film historian Jonathan Rigby
- The Perfect Crime: Inside Cash On Demand (18:50)
- Hammer’s Women: Lois Daine (9:51)
- Lois Dane on Cash on Demand (7:36)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Advertising and Publicity Gallery and Press Material
- 36-page booklet with essay, critical response and Q & A with Peter Cushing
The Films: Never Take Sweets From A Stranger
Never Take Sweets From A Stranger is about a family that is new to a small town. Peter Carter is the new school principal and he is introducing his immigrated wife to the town at a local party. Their daughter Jean is 9 years old and likes to play with a local girl Lucille. Lucille knows a special place where they can get candy, all they have to do is get an older man who lives in a nearby house to give them some delicious sweets. I’m sure you can see where this story is headed, but the performances and points the film brings up makes it well worth watching.
This 1960 black and white psychological thriller really packs a gut punch. While not based on a true story specifically, everything that happens in the film feels so raw and so real. This is in my opinion one of better films tackling the subject of just what is child molestation. It’s quite amazing how much material this film covers in a little under 1 and a half hours. While not being a critical or commercial success this is not a film that loses much being watched with a modern view of current events.
The film is grim with a disturbingly realistic commentary. Never Take Sweets From A Stranger goes from a small town neighborhood to courtroom drama to abandoned backwoods cabins, seemingly always changing up the locations to keep the interest going. It’s quite brilliant just how much the film says without ever showing anything. The implications that allow the viewer’s mind to think about it is way more meaningful, and the pacing allows for such introspection without giving too much information too fast nor dragging it out too long.
This may be one of the best Hammer films I’ve seen and yet I never hear anyone talk about it. Even though it’s primarily in the crime genre it could easily be counted among its horror films for its story. The film was directed by Cyril Frankel who seems to mostly work in television. The script is based on a play by Roger Garis. The film stars Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer, and Janina Faye. The transfer is outstanding and hopefully, that means this little-seen masterpiece finds a new audience. I highly recommend this film.
- Original UK titles and with the alternative US Never Take Candy from a Stranger titles
- Conspiracy Theories: Inside Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (24:36)
- Hammer’s Women: Gwen Watford (7:59)
- An Interview with Janina Faye (14:23)
- An Appreciation by Matthew Holness (11:52)
- The Perfect Horror Chord (43:10)
- US Theatrical Trailer
- Brian Trenchard-Smith Trailer Commentary
- Advertising and Publicity Gallery
- 40-page booklet featuring essays, critical response and cast interviews
The Films: The Full Treatment
The Full Treatment is a 1960 black and white thriller about newlyweds in a car accident. The husband is international race car driver, Alan Colby who has a bad head injury. He is missing parts of his memory and it starts to become apparent that his personality has changed. The film was released in the US as Stop Me Before I Kill! but both titles are pretty fitting for it. While the name may create pictures of a giallo in your head it’s more mild and doesn’t really delve into the psychological aspects like you might expect.
Val Guest writes and directs the picture, he has done quite a few British productions of stage and television as well. The film is based on a novel by Ronald Scott Thorn. The film’s run time is 2 hours and while that might stretch out a bit too long it has quite a bit of twists and turns to keep it interesting throughout the whole movie. Indicator has thankfully released the uncut version of the film as it has previously been available in 93 and 107 minutes. This was the longest film Hammer had released at the time, so they were trying to branch out into new territory.
Ronald Lewis plays lead Alan Colby, he does a good job but I’m not sure he quite pulls off the intricacy needed for such a role, but perhaps we were just spoiled in 1960 with Anthony Perkins and Karlheinz Böhm already playing such memorable characters in a similar vein. It’s still a good film with fun parts. It’s never really shocking or surprising where the film ends up but it’s worth the trip and is a solid entry in the Hammer crime thriller line.
Diane Cilento is the standout here as the wife, Denise Colby. She has an energetic delivery and is convincing as her character. She was later nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Tom Jones and might be most known for her role in The Wicker Man as Miss Rose. Claude Dauphin plays a fun part as David Prade, the psychiatrist that tries to help the couple out during this volatile time. Once again I feel like this box set has brought to light a forgotten gem that needs to find an audience as it is an entertaining, enjoyable film.
- Two presentations of The Full Treatment: the uncensored UK theatrical cut; and the censored US version with alternative Stop Me Before I Kill! titles
- Mind Control: Inside The Full Treatment (21:15)
- Hammer’s Women: Diane Cilento (11:05)
- A Subject for Analysis: Vic Pratt on Val Guest (14:35)
- Censored Scene
- Theatrical Trailer
- Advertising, Publicity Gallery, and Press Material
- 40-page booklet featuring essays, cast discussion, Q & A with director Val Guest, and critical response on the film
The Films: The Snorkel
From 1958 we get the Hitchcockian thriller The Snorkel about a man named Jacques Duval who comes up with a fool proof plan of getting rid of his rich wife. Drug her so that she takes a long nap, tape up the room she is in and makes it look like she killed herself by turning on the gas and hide under the floorboards with a snorkel connected to outside air and wait out the night until the cops deem it a suicide. If that doesn’t sound like an entertaining premise for a murder film then I can’t help you.
Since the killer and plan are revealed in the first few minutes it not so much of a whodunit but will he get away with it. Granted, in films like this you have to suspend your disbelief a bit but it does have a catchy gimmick. The film is based on a novel of the same name and directed by Guy Green, who is probably most known for his film A Patch of Blue. The Snorkel has a nice pacing to it at 90 minutes long and has a fun ending that is fitting (although I thought it might go in a bit darker tone and apparently was originally written that way in the script).
Jimmy Sangster and Peter Myers are the credited writers and you can see especially the touches of Hammer horror sensibilities in this one. Peter van Eyck does a great job at being the menacing baddie, seeming to always be typecast as a Nazi officer in his war films it was nice to see him play a different sort of villain. Betta St. John and Mandy Miller do a convincing job as the lead actresses, one trying to move on with her life and the other convinced her step dad had a hand in the death of her mother.
All in all, this too is a solid crime thriller which is convincing me that Hammer should have been just as known for these types of films as they are with horror. It’s a fairly light film that more entertains than scares. It makes me think of a story that would be written for Perry Mason or Columbo but it’s just before the lead characters show up. The film has some nice sequences and a fairly different plot device and so I consider it to be a nice little gem just waiting to be rediscovered.
- Audio Commentary with Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains
- Undercover Killer: Inside The Snorkel (20:58)
- Hammer’s Women: Betta St John (10:23)
- Peter Allchrone and Hugh Harlow remember The Snorkel (7:48)
- Original Script Ending
- Four-Note Fear (23:18)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Image Gallery
- 28-page booklet with essay, critical response, and an interview with Jimmy Sangster
Hammer Volume Two Criminal Intent Final Thoughts:
Hammer has always existed in my head as campy cult horror films and nothing else. This box set has given me a new perspective on the production company and widened my appreciation for their films. This is really a quality set with no weak films, although I think Never Take Sweets From A Stranger might be a unfairly missed film classic. I feel that this box set is a must for people who are fans of black and white crime thrillers. Fans who already know these films are going to love it.
I am so happy when a company takes films that have not had a very good physical release and gives them the care and attention they deserve. Powerhouse Films with their Indicator series has done just that with these four Hammer crime thrillers that have never been on Blu-ray before. The transfers look gorgeous, the sound is in the original mono with English subtitles and the booklets and special features are solidly done. If you have any interest whatsoever in these films you have to get this box set right away. I’m so glad I have this set in my movie collection, if you’d like to add it to yours please pick up a copy at Amazon or other fine retailers like Amazon UK which is even cheaper to import.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.