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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Demons of the Mind (1972)
(2017 Restored Blu-Ray & DVD Doubleplay)


Starring: Gillian Hills, Robert Hardy, Patrick Magee, Michael Hordern and Shane Briant
Distributor: StudioCanal
RRP: £TBC (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 30 October 2017

Bavaria is the setting for this period piece of madness and incest. Baron Zorn fears his family line of insanity and in-breeding has affected his own offspring. Elizabeth and Emil are kept docile by blood-letting and locked-up in separate rooms. Zorn himself is being treated by the frankly untrustworthy psychiatrist Professor Falkenberg. The truth will finally be revealed, but not before more people die...

By the early 1970s some people felt that Hammer Horror had run its course – particularly in terms of quality and originality. In reality, the company was as prolific as it had been since The Curse of Frankenstein in the late 1950s. However, what we started to see was a very mixed bag. The Horror of Frankenstein, The Devil Rides Out, Dracula AD 1972, and others (including the Hammer House of Horror TV series) proved they were still able to produce the goods. There was a return though to psychological thriller scripts, in some circumstances thinly disguised (or certainly marketed) as horror.

Demons of the Mind (1972) is an odd one. Because the events are non-linear the viewer has no inkling as to what is happening on the screen. Of course, there’s a backstory, but for the majority of the film it seems that a series of hysteria-related set pieces are paraded before us. No one appears to act with any kind of logic or reason. It’s as if the cast was pushed in front of the camera and told to run around like their tail was on fire. Either that or told to go glassy-eyed and pretend they were somewhere else. With Robert Hardy and Patrick Magee as the stars you expect a little more; however, in any situation like this it’s down to the material they are given to work with.

I realise this all stems from the madness of one character, but I don’t think this concept has much mileage. Eking it out over 89 minutes is excruciating. Perhaps if the scenes had been tightened and scripted differently it may have allowed the viewer to engage more sympathetically with the story. I suppose Hammer should be commended for trying something different. Certainly, there’s plenty of graphic violence (including a close-up throat-cutting, a frantic stabbing of keys through a throat, and the impaling of a flaming cross through a torso – to name but a few), which is tempered occasionally by some titillation (I have to say Virginia Wetherell was quite a picture). When presented to EMI they had no idea how to react to it. It couldn’t really be classified under any distinct sub-genre and so EMI didn’t know how to market the thing. In the end it was put out as a support to another movie.

I agree with EMI. It’s a bit of a mess.


Ty Power

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