On The Cultural Gutter, I’m writing about Hammer’s These Are the Damned and Folk Horror for the Atomic Age. These Are the Damned came a few years after the third in the Quatermass series, all of which were also adapted for the cinema by Hammer Studios. It’s a curious film that effectively pulls off the difficult stunt of starting off as one type of story but ending up a very different type. It is equal parts crime melodrama, science fiction, and folk horror.
Testi plays Milo, a small-time hood who, when the film opens is lugging his wounded buddy through a field after a heist that has apparently gone rather poorly. His friend dies, and Testi buries him in the field before getting arrested and ending up in a jail run by Oliver Reed’s Vito Cipriani.
“Demobilized officer, finding peace unbearably tedious, would welcome any excitement. Legitimate, if possible, but crime of humorous description, no objection.” — Bulldog Drummond, 1929 Basil Dearden’s 1960 caper film League of Gentlemen is a little bit like if, instead of ending up solving crimes for a living, Bulldog Drummond ended up committing them; as if…
With a game cast, Condorman goes about the business of trying its hardest to be a kid-friendly take on the James Bond franchise without being the pandering sort of kids’ spy film we too often had to endure.
It was great fun to watch Oliver Reed leer and sweat all over everybody. In addition, the young Carol Lynley was quite lovely, and Kirchin’s bopping score struck me as a surprisingly adventurous alternative to the typical gothic meanderings you might expect.
The Pirates of Blood River is still a solid adventure tale, with plenty of action, a dependable cast, and a look that fools you into thinking this is a much higher budget film than it actually is. It’s nice to see these old Hammer swashbucklers getting some attention.
Even though it never really becomes a swashbuckling adventure (although Peter Cushing does get to swing from a chandelier) or a horror film, Hinds exploits the trappings of both genres to create a thrilling hybrid driven by strong characters and solid British acting.