of Suspense: Hammer Films
DVD Rating is for entire 6-film set
(Mandy Miller) suspects her stepfather, Paul Decker (Peter Van
Eyck), of killing her mother, but nobody will believe her...
is one of Hammer's earliest psychological thrillers. Unlike the
later entries like Paranoiac (1962)
(1963), it relies less on contrived shocks and plot twists and
this is decidedly to the film's advantage. The opening titles
indicate that it was based on a story by Anthony Dawson, and this
has been reported to be an early credit for Italian cult filmmaker
Antonio Margheriti (Castle
of Blood), who often used this nom de plume on
his own pictures. However, given that Dawson didn't begin to adopt
this pseudonym until Space Men (1960),
it seems likely that this could be a case of mistaken identity.
It pays to remember that there was also an actor by the same name
(best remembered for his appearance as the killer in Hitchcock's
Dial M for Murder), and given that
he later racked up some writing credits for British TV, it seems
more likely that it was he who supplied the story for this picture.
That said, it would provide a neat bit of symmetry if it really
had been Margheriti, as The Snorkel
has elements in common with the later giallo films, a genre to
which he contributed with mixed results (Naked
You Die, Seven
Deaths in the Cat's Eye).
story is a variation on the old "locked room" murder mystery,
and it has to be admitted that it is thought out with a certain
degree of inventiveness. The screenplay was co-authored by Jimmy
Sangster, who would later specialize in the Les
Diaboliques-style thrillers produced by Hammer. Yet whereas
these later thrillers often forsook logic in favor of shock effects,
The Snorkel remains reasonably believable
throughout. The emphasis on a preteen protagonist matching wits
with a worldly villain gives it something of a Nancy Drew flavor,
but fortunately the film stops short of being too precious about
Guy Green (an Oscar winner for David Lean's Great
Expectations, 1946) does a credible job with the material.
The pacing is generally smooth, and he makes the most of the film's
'exotic' continental locales. Perhaps not surprisingly given
his background the film is at its best when its allowed to be
purely visual. The opening sequence depicting the murder, for
instance, unfolds entirely without dialogue and it's all the
more effective because of it. Things tend to become a bit bogged
down during dialogue sequences, but there are a number of effective
suspense sequences to liven things up.
Van Eyck (The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse,
Bridge at Remagen) is in top form as the villainous
stepfather. Van Eyck's extremely Aryan looks and demeanor make
him a natural villain, but he is able to work in shadings of
sympathy. When he ultimately sets his sights on disposing of
his meddling stepdaughter, however, his steely resolve and determination
make him a very credible menace. Mandy Miller is also very impressive
as the precocious Candy. There are some uncertainties in the
characterization, but this is more a fault of the writing than
anything else on the one hand, there's a clear attempt to
make her seem wise for her age, but at times she comes off as
unusually flighty and borderline irritating. Even so, Miller's
performance is believable and unaffected, and she interacts
with Van Eyck beautifully. The supporting cast includes Betta
St. John (City
of the Dead) and William Franklyn (The
Satanic Rites of Dracula).
its stylish black and white photography courtesy of Jack Asher
of Dracula), The Snorkel
is an intermittently effective psychological thriller. With a
little more work in the screenplay department, it may have measured
up to Hammer's better efforts in the genre, but as it is, it's
still a well done time-killer.
is yet another obscure title rescued by Sony for their most-welcome
Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films collection. The film kicks
off Disc 2 of the three disc/six film set, and it presents a crisp
and clear 1.66/16x9 transfer. There's a fair amount of grain in
the image, but print damage is negligible. Best of all, it presents
the fully uncut 90-minute edit of the film previous editions
that surfaced on TV and via the gray market circuit in the U.S.
were cut by about 15 minutes; the restored footage isn't of a
sensational or salacious nature, but it helps to round out the
characters a bit, even if the film ultimately could have pruned
a little from its running time. The mono soundtrack is also in
very good condition.
only extra included is an enjoyably lurid theatrical trailer,
also presented in 1.66/16x9. 4/13/10