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Paranoiac: Collector’s Edition (1963) - Blu-ray Review

Paranoiac: Collector’s Edition

This is what happens when an abusive drunk tries to drive the last remaining link to his family’s inheritance absolutely mad in order to cash it in all for himself.  Moody, full of fine performances, and with plenty of twists along the way, Paranoiac is a black-and-white gem of atmospheric terror, proving that Hammer was capable of more than just their color productions.

"It might not be as clear as it should be, but this old creaker of a narrative is one of Hammer’s little known black-and-white secret."


In 1960, Hitchcock ruled the theaters with the release of Psycho, which is now famous for its treatment of black-and-white psychological terror.  Hammer Studios was not going to be outdone by the film’s many successes for Universal.  So screenwriter Jimmy Sangster tried his hand at writing a non-gothic horror story for Hammer.  The result , Paranoiac, was based on the 1949 crime novel Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey, which Hammer had previously purchased the rights to.  

While much of the novel was scrapped in favor of saving money, what Sangster did bring to the sea-side narrative is plenty of chances for Oliver Reed to dominate the screen with his incredible performance as the unhinged Simon, the youngest son of the now-dead and very wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Ashby.

Directed by Freddie Francis, the Ashby’s finances might be guarded by accountant John Kossett (Maurice Denham), but that fact isn’t stopping Simon, who is the church organist, from terrorizing his unbalanced sister Eleanor (Janette Scott) and the family’s overprotective aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell) with his behavoir and his constant drunkenness.Paranoiac: Collector’s Edition  

Simon’s apologists blame his behavior on the fact that his older brother, Tony, jumped off a cliff eleven years ago.  And that was after the tragic loss of both his mother and father, but when Tony (Alexander Davion) shows up unexpectedly on the eve of Simon’s control of the family assets, suspicion rears its ugly head.

Is this really their long thought dead brother?  And so begins a massive effort to defraud the family from their inheritance.  Full of mystery and an old haunted house, Paranoiac is a must-see for fans of Oliver Reed.  It might not be as clear as it should be, but this old creaker of a narrative is one of Hammer’s little known black-and-white secret.

Hopefully, it’s blu-ray debut - thanks to Scream Factory - will change all that.  Just remember that nothing in this thriller is as it seems!

4/5 beers

 

Paranoiac: Collector’s Edition

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- February 8, 2022
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Nothing is quite what it seems in this riveting, complex tale of greed, dementia and deceit from Hammer Films, the experts in terror. Rescued from a suicide attempt by a man claiming to be her long-dead brother, a young heiress (Janette Scott, The Day Of The Triffids) finds a new reason to live. But her relatives have doubts. They think "Tony" (Alexander Davion) is an imposter who's trying to get his hands on the family fortune. Everyone has their own secret reasons to suspect Tony, as well as their own designs on his vast inheritance – especially brother Simon (Oliver Reed, The Curse Of The Werewolf), a magnetic but devastatingly cruel wretch who'll stop at nothing to thwart the supposed pretender.

Video:

Framed in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Scream Factory presents Paranoiac with a clean 1080p transfer with stunning black-and-white images.  Overall, the entire transfer delivers impressive results.  First, there’s no denying that this film, wiped clean of dirt and debris, has never looked better. Black and grays are bold and dynamic and shadows towering in the house.  The sets and locations are glorious under the restoration and this dazzles the senses with its crisp edges.  Long live black-and-white!

Audio:

A crisp DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track provides the sound for the resurrection of The Ashby’s

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • See below

Special Features:

Fans get a nice collection of supplemental material to celebrate the release with!

  • NEW 2K Scan From The Interpositive
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck
  • NEW Drink To Deception – An Interview With Author/Film Historian Kim Newman
  • NEW A Toast To Terror – An Interview With Author/Film Historian Jonathan Rigby
  • The Making Of Hammer’s PARANOIAC Hosted By Author Wayne Kinsey
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars


Film Details

Paranoiac: Collector’s Edition

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
80 mins
Director
: Freddie Frances
Writer:
Jimmy Sangster
Cast:
Janette Scott; Oliver Reed; Sheila Burrell
Genre
: Drama | Horror
Tagline:
Chilling Terror of a PSYCHO KILLER
Memorable Movie Quote: "Now I need to drink some more."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 15, 1963
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 8, 2022.
Synopsis: Rescued from a suicide attempt by a man claiming to be her long-dead brother, a young heiress (Janette Scott, The Day Of The Triffids) finds a new reason to live. But her relatives have doubts. They think "Tony" (Alexander Davion) is an imposter who's trying to get his hands on the family fortune. Everyone has their own secret reasons to suspect Tony, as well as their own designs on his vast inheritance – especially brother Simon (Oliver Reed, The Curse Of The Werewolf), a magnetic but devastatingly cruel wretch who'll stop at nothing to thwart the supposed pretender.

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Paranoiac: Collector’s Edition

 

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