Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)

...aka: Fanatic

Directed by:
Silvio Narizzano

A creepy, campy and extremely entertaining good time from Hammer! Scandal queen Tallulah Bankhead rips into the role of Mrs. Trefoile, ultimate mother-in-law from hell! She's a snarling, hypocritical religious fanatic who invites her dead son's ex-girlfriend Patricia (Stefanie Powers) to her secluded country home, then imprisons her in a room with steel bars over the windows. She thinks Patricia is a sinner because she wears red make-up and clothes ("The devil's color!") and decides to "cleanse her soul" through torture with scissors, a gun, broken glass, starvation and, worst of all, droning daily bible sermons. She also has an altar down in the basement where she plots to sacrifice Patricia so her soul will be reunited with her dead sons! A maid (Yootha Joyce) and two handymen (Peter Vaughan and "introducing" Donald Sutherland in an early role as the retarded Joe) assist her. Meanwhile, Patricia's fiancé Alan (Maurice Kaufmann) searches around for her.

Richard Matheson's script (based on Anne Blaisdell's book "Nightmare") keeps things credible, fun and engrossing the entire time. Bankhead, in her final starring role, is pretty horrifying ("Filth! Corrupter!") and the supporting cast (especially Joyce) is excellent, making this one of the best of the Hammer psychological horror films.


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