12 February 2007 | The_Void
A more than interesting smaller Hammer flick!
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is yet another small scale and less popular Hammer film, but still one that gives the studio's more well respected efforts a run for their money. This film is macabre in a way unlike most other Hammer movies. The frightening things about this film don't come from overly maniacal characters or fantasy monsters - but from a threat that has become more widespread in the past few decades. The main theme here is paedophilia, and it feels odd watching this film as the attitudes expressed towards the hideous act are nothing like they are today. Because paedophilia is more often heard about now, the film isn't quite so frightening - but somehow it feels like it wasn't as frightening back in 1960 as it must have seemed like quite an outlandish idea. The plot follows a couple of young girls. One of them loses her 'candy money' and the other says she knows where they can get some free candy. They go to Mr Olderberry's house, but when the young girl comes home saying that the old man made them take their clothes off and dance for candy - her parents, new in town, decide to take the powerful Olderberry family to court.
Aside from showing a real life monster, the film would also appear to want to serve as a warning against immoral lawyers manipulating the truth to get the wealthy off the hook. Director Cyril Frankel seems to want to take a moral stance on these issues, and that's no bad thing. There is a macabre atmosphere in the film, but the bulk of it happens in a courtroom. Hammer may be famous for horror, and this film does feature some towards the end - but on the whole it's more of a courtroom drama than anything else. This isn't a bad thing, however, as the courtroom action is always interesting and this is backed up by an undercurrent of terror as we get to watch a guilty man walk free. The acting is pretty decent, with Janina Faye standing out the most. It's hard to judge the production values as my copy wasn't exactly great, but I doubt that the film was short on budget; and there's nothing in the film that would have been particularly expensive anyway. Overall, Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is a damn good lesser known Hammer flick that boils down to a terrifying and memorable conclusion, and it therefore comes recommended to anyone who enjoys a good thriller!