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The Icons of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films (Stop Me Before I Kill! / Cash on Demand / The Snorkel / Maniac / Never Take Candy from a Stranger / These Are the Damned)

42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hammer Films made their name with monsters and vampires, but this third complication from Columbia Pictures – all new to DVD – proves they could frighten you without them. Topping the set is the uncut version of the futuristic classic THESE ARE THE DAMNED, directed by the legendary Joseph Losey. Peter Cushing and Andre Morell match wits in CASH ON DEMAND. Oscar®-winning cinematographer Guy Green (1947, Great Expectations) directed THE SNORKEL, about a young girl who can’t convince anyone her stepfather’s a murderer. The renowned Val Guest co-wrote and directed the startling psychodrama STOP ME BEFORE I KILL! Kerwin Matthews finds himself in the middle of a strange mother/daughter threesome in the Jimmy Sangster-written MANIAC. Plus, this ultimate rarity: Cyril Frankel’s astounding NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER, a serious, and still horrifyingly timely, chiller about a small town terrorized by an elderly child molester. You won’t do better than this impeccable collection from the darkest corners of the Hammer imagination.

Though England's Hammer Films is perhaps best known for its horror titles like Curse of Frankenstein, the studio released numerous pictures in other genres, among these features science fiction, comedies, historical epics, and more than a few thrillers, six of which make their Region 1 DVD debut in this intriguing set. Interestingly, the best-known, and, arguably, best film in the collection is Joseph Losey's These Are the Damned (1963), which hews closer to science fiction in its story of American tourist MacDonald Carey's encounter with a group of children at the center of a secret and chilling government experiment. Though suspenseful and well cast (a young Oliver Reed gets a fine showcase as a vicious Teddy boy unwittingly caught in the experiment), the film surpasses the limits of the genre in its character-driven depiction of lonely individuals at the mercy of unfeeling authority figures. Manhandled by distributors during its initial release, the version featured here is the original 96-minute edit.

The rest of the Hammer Icons of Suspense collection follows traditional lines of thriller plot structure, though there are a few interesting variations. Never Take Candy from a Stranger is a fairly chilling drama about child molestation--a taboo topic today, much less in 1960, when the movie was released--handled with an equal mix of stark suspense and courtroom fireworks, and all beautifully lensed by Oscar-winner Freddie Francis. Maniac (1963), directed by Hammer producer and exec Michael Carreras, is one of the studio's more effective and unsettling nods to Psycho, with American artist Kerwin Mathews falling afoul of a psychologically troubled mother-daughter pair, while a blowtorch-wielding lunatic roams the French countryside. Hammer vet Jimmy Sangster's script is typically top-notch, and the grislier aspects of the story get plenty of airtime. Sangster also co-penned 1958's The Snorkel (with Italian genre jack-of-all-trades Antonio Margheriti, using his Anglicized pen name, Anthony Dawson), an agreeable B mystery with Peter van Eyck as a widower suspected by his stepdaughter of killing her mother with the title device. Oscar-winning cinematographer Guy Green directed the latter, while Val Guest, who helmed some of Hammer's best early science-fiction efforts (The Quatermass Xperiment), cowrote and directed Stop Me Before I Kill! (1960), a juicy pulp exercise about racecar driver Ronald Lewis, whose head injury compels him to try to kill his wife (Diane Cilento). Matters are made worse with the introduction of a sinister psychiatrist (Claude Dauphin) whose interest in the case exceeds professional standards. And while Hammer icon Sir Christopher Lee is nowhere to be found in this set, his frequent onscreen foil, Peter Cushing, is front and center for Cash on Demand (1961), a terrifically taut programmer about a by-the-books bank manager (Cushing) who is blackmailed into robbing his own bank by a cunning thief (Andre Morell, who played Watson to Cushing's Holmes in Hammer's Hound of the Baskervilles). For those who associate Hammer Films only with horror, the six pictures included in the set will be an eye opener; for longtime fans of the studio's output, or those looking for vintage thrills, the set is a must-have. However, extras are relegated to original trailers for each film, despite the fact that many of the key players are still alive. --Paul Gaita

Special Features

Product Details

  • Actors: Macdonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field, Viveca Lindfors, Alexander Knox, Oliver Reed
  • Directors: Cyril Frankel, Guy Green, Joseph Losey, Michael Carreras, Quentin Lawrence
  • Writers: Anthony Dawson, David T. Chantler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 6, 2010
  • Run Time: 541 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0034PWPHY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,478 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Icons of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films (Stop Me Before I Kill! / Cash on Demand / The Snorkel / Maniac / Never Take Candy from a Stranger / These Are the Damned)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. Fraser on April 3, 2010
A superb trio DVD disc set of Hammers' Columbia releases! Of great interest here because they have not seen the light of day for nearly fifty years! Good clean, crisp and sharp bright transfers! Minimal packaging no booklet but, it matters not! I was delighted to view the full length version of 'Cash On Demand' a taut and superb suspenser with an excellent script with sardonic and alternating comical dialogue-no spoilers here for those yet to see! 'Never Take Candy From A Stranger' is another gem dealing with (then) with the very real threat of child abduction. 'The Snorkel' another suspenser-worth a look. Three others-all in crisp black & white-don't wait until this set is out of print-you'll never get over it!
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on April 9, 2010
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Sony's ICONS OF SUSPENSE sets the highwater mark for releases in their ICONS series so far. This is the third in the series after ICONS OF ADVENTURE and ICONS OF HORROR to feature releases from England's Hammer Films. Two other sets, ICONS OF SCIENCE FICTION, feature Japanese movies from Toho Studios and low budget offerings from producer Sam Katzman. There is also an ICONS OF HORROR set featuring Boris Karloff. All three Hammer releases have featured lesser known fare although Columbia Pictures (now part of Sony) released more Hammer offerings than any other major American studio. What makes this set especially appealing is that none of these films have appeared on DVD before and they are presented uncut and in their original aspect ratio which is key to at least two of the films (NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER, THESE ARE THE DAMNED) which feature stunning black and white cinematography. Unlike the previous two ICON releases, you get 6 movies with this set instead of 4.

All of the films were made and released between 1958 and 1963 after Hammer had made it big with their Gothic horror films. They also made a number of so called "psychological thrillers" in the vein of PSYCHO although some were made before it. Disk 1 has STOP ME BEFORE I KILL which dates from 1958 and shows the dark side of psychiatry. CASH ON DEMAND, from 1961, features a taut script and one of Peter Cushing's best non-horror performances. Disk 2 has THE SNORKEL (1958) and MANIAC (1963), about a perfect crime and a twisted killer, are the least of the set but still worthwhile. Disk 3 is worth the whole package for it contains beautiful uncut versions of two 1960 classics NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER about pedophilia and THESE ARE THE DAMNED, a multi-layerd offering from Joseph Losey (THE SERVANT). If you enjoy quality cinema on a meager budget then check out what the Hammer team did with these 6 titles. CASH ON DEMAND and Disk 3 are so good, I could watch them over and over again.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dan Day on April 14, 2010
Verified Purchase
"The Icons of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films" is Sony's follow-up to their two other Hammer sets. The films featured in this set are some of Hammer's most obscure. All of the six included are debuting on Region 1 DVD. Having written reveiws for other Hammer product, I would like to put down my thoughts on this set, disc by disc.

Disc One

STOP ME BEFORE I KILL! stars Ronald Lewis (TASTE OF FEAR, MR. SARDONICUS) as a man convinced he's being driven to kill his wife. The film was directed by Hammer veteran Val Guest, which means it has some interesting details, but with a running time of 108 minutes, the story is a bit overlong.

CASH ON DEMAND This film has about three or four sets, a small cast, and not much action--yet it may be the best picture in this set. Peter Cushing stars as an anal bank manager, and Andre Morell opposes him as the mysterious and somewhat charming bank robber, "The Colonel". Cushing and Morell spend most of the movie verbally sparring with one another, but the actors are so good, and the tension so high, you'll forget you're just watching two guys talking. Peter Cushing is my idol, but I have to admit, Andre Morell steals the show.

Disc Two

THE SNORKEL Peter Van Eyck (who starred in a number of German Edgar Wallace thrillers) stars as a man who thinks he's committed the perfect crime. This picture has a great opening, and it also features Betta St. John (CORRIDORS OF BLOOD, HORROR HOTEL).

MANIAC This is one of several "mini-Hitchcocks" that were written by Hammer's Jimmy Sangster in the early 60's to capitalize on the success of PSYCHO.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard Masloski on October 4, 2010
I was looking for some quality entertainment for the Halloween season and picked this collection up in a store. It was a "used" copy so I bought it at a good price. (If it wasn't used I probably would have held onto my money.) But....boy, I am so glad I purchased this. The movies are excellent and make for exciting, thought-provoking viewing. I don't want to give away too much, but offer here just a few observations and insights into the collection. And this collection is worth every penny! There are 3 discs with 2 movies on each and are as follows:

1) "Stop Me Before I Kill" - This is the weakest and most predictable of all the films. But it is still well-written, acted, directed - and the end may very well have been the inspiration for the ending of the recent "Shutter Island."

2) "Cash on Demand" - Based on a play and seeming very much like a filmed play actually helps in creating that perfect sense of confinement and being trapped that is essential to the plot. There is a touch of "A Christmas Carol" to it, also - and Peter Cushing gives perhaps the best performance of his long career in this movie.

3) "The Snorkel" - This movie is like an episode of "Columbo" in that the crime is shown in the beginning sequence but instead of Peter Falk we rely on a young girl to solve the case. There is the sparring twixt killer and "investigator" that was the largest part of the "Columbo" series. And in this movie there is a basset hound that will surely remind you of Columbo's pet dog which had a recurring role in several of the "Columbo" episodes. But all "Columbo" similarities aside, this is one heck of a film!
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The Icons of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films (Stop Me Before I Kill! / Cash on Demand / The Snorkel / Maniac / Never Take Candy from a Stranger / These Are the Damned)
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