Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hammer Films Double Feature: Never Take Candy from a Stranger & Scream of Fear! Blu-ray Review

Not Rated; 164 minutes; $14.98; Buy Link

I believe I have stated a few times on this blog about my love for the classic Hammer Film Production horror flicks from the 1950s to the 1970s. I have fond memories of watching these films during horror movie marathons on AMC (before they had commercials) when I was a teenager during the late 1990s. Old horror films don't get much air time on television any more, so I'm thankful that many of them have found their way onto DVD and Blu-ray.

Yesterday, Mill Creek Entertainment released a new Hammer Films Double Feature Blu-ray, which features the British films "Scream of Fear!" and "Never Take Candy from a Stranger." There are no special features or extras on the single-disc.

Directed by Cyril Frankel, the 1960 thriller Never Take Candy from a Stranger (also known as Never Take Sweets from a Stranger) centers on a school principal Peter Carter and his wife Sally (played by Patrick Allen and Gwen Watford) who are determined to protect their young daughter Jean (played by Janina Faye) from a child molester, Clarence Olderberry Sr.. The old man had lured Jean and her best friend Lucille (played by Frances Green) into his home and gave them candy in exchange for seeing the girls dance naked.

The Olderberry family owns most of the town and are respected by everyone. Even though Peter and Sally pressed charges against Clarence, there's no real proof that he actually harmed the girls; resulting in the court finding him not guilty. However, Clarence is guilty of the crime and he hunts down Jean and Lucille, who must fight for their lives to survive his clutches.

Due to the taboo themes of sexual abuse of children and paedophilia, the film was a critical and commercial failure. However, over the years the film has received positive reviews from modern day critics. The late Hammer horror-icon Christopher Lee stated, ""Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, an excellent film, was decades ahead of its time."

Directed by Seth Holt, the 1961 psychological thriller Scream of Fear! (also known as Taste of Fear), centers on Penny Appleby (played by Susan Strasberg), a wheelchair-bound woman who returns to her father's estate after being estranged for nearly 10 years. Upon arriving Penny meets her stepmother Jane (played by Ann Todd) for the very first time, as well as two guests, Bob (played by Ronald Lewis) and Doctor Gerrard (played by Christopher Lee). She's disappointed to learn that her father is away on a business trip. Her mother had died recently and she's wanting to get reacquainted with her father.

What was planned as a simple visit home quickly turns in a nightmare for Penny. She keeps seeing her father's dead body in various places, but the body always disappears before she cancall for help. Is she going mad?

While the film didn't do very well in the UK and United States upon it's release, it did do well in Europe. The late great Christopher Lee has been quoted, "Taste of Fear was the best film that I was in that Hammer ever made. It had the best director, the best cast and the best story."

Final Thoughts

It's nice to see both of these films being getting a much needed Blu-ray release, as they're two of the best flicks made by Hammer Film Productions. Never Take Candy from a Stranger is a well-made drama with excellent acting. The plot is dark and disturbing, and it might not appeal to some viewers. The chase scene towards the end is surreal and scary as hell!

Scream of Fear! is an underrated psychological thriller with an intriguing plot, wonderful cinematography, and great acting. There's a twist towards the end that you'll never see coming; almost like one that you would find in a Hitchcock film.

Overall, I've enjoyed watching both films on the Hammer Films Double Feature. These two almost forgotten films are definitely worth a watch.

*Note -  I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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