Paranoiac (1963)

"What do you mean I can't buy more brandy?"

“What do you mean I can’t buy more brandy?”

The trials and tribulations of wealthy brats are, much like the battle between good and evil, endless fodder for the world of film. They are also much more fun to watch when Oliver Reed is playing said wealthy brat. While it may be concerned with well-trod territory, Paranoiac managed to surprise me, in good ways, all the way to the end.

Simply put, the Ashbys are a mess. The eldest son, Simon (Reed) is a little too fond of the drink (you don’t say?) and dares to smoke while playing organ at the local church. His sister Eleanor is mad, or so they say. They’re watched over by their battle-axe Aunt Harriet, who tries desperately to keep her niece and nephew under wraps. Things fell apart when their parents died, and got worse, especially for Eleanor, when

The anguish is palpable.

The anguish is palpable.

their brother Tony died. Now, every day is a battle for Harriet as she attempts to deal with Simon’s irreverent behavior and Eleanor’s desperate madness. Then something unthinkable happens: Tony comes back. They never found the body, after all. But, is it Tony, or a fraud looking for his share of the inheritance?

What follows is the unraveling of a family’s deepest, darkest secrets. As the mask is lifted we learn of one bizarre secret after another, and all the while, crazy shit’s happening elsewhere, too! Reminiscent of Psycho and Diabolique, this movie isn’t your typical Hammer fare; this movie is not looking to shock you. It’s not interested in cheap thrills (well, maybe just a little bit!). Instead it’s horror is more psychological, and it actually does a pretty darn good job. A pleasant surprise.


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