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  • grantch21 September 2005
    Fascinating film, an exercise in understated British acting. How did I miss this flick? In 1963 I used to go to movies a lot, and surely this film played the drive-in or "B" movie circuit. Howevr, this is a wannabe "A" movie. The story is convoluted, with lots of twists and unexpected turns. Never be sure of anything in Paranoiac. There are even a couple of genuine thrill jumps along the way to the conclusion. Acting is excellent and the music works well. Best of all, Paranoiac is shot in absolutely gorgeous black and white. Since the movie was released in 1963, Oliver Reed was slim and drop-dead handsome.

    No one can make suspense thrillers like the Brits. Actually, Paranoiac reminded me of Bunny Lake Is Missing and Midnight Lace. It's now available in a Hammer studios presentation box of 8 films. Since Paranoiac was one of two films in the package I had not seen, ever, I watched it as soon as I opened the package. Heartily recommended.
  • The presence of a very young Oliver Reed alone should encourage fans of older films to view this one. Reed is very impressive as the spoiled rich kid who never fails to surprise us with what he will do to get his way. He is days away from a large inheritance when his deceased brother shows up at the front door. Nothing is quite what it seems. Is he an imposter or not? Is Reed's sister crazy or not? Does the family have something to hide or not? The ending is not really a surprise but still packs quite a jolt and is a suitable ending to a very fine and underrated film. Available on video.
  • Freddie Francis has built up an amazing career in cinematography earning multiple prizes and awards thanks to his excellent visual work in movies like "The Elephant Man" (1980) and "The Straight Story" (1999), but he also has a less known (but not less interesting) career as a director that started in 1962 when he co-directed "The Day of the Triffids". Later he would become a regular name in the horror genre, directing films for both Hammer and Amicus, the two most important horror film production companies of the 60s. "Paranoiac" was the first film he did for Hammer, and in many ways ranks as one of his best works.

    "Paranoiac" is the tale of the Ashby family, a wealthy clan that has been struck by tragedy twice; first with the death of both parents and later with the suicide of the youngest member of the family, Tony Ashby. The remaining siblings, Simon (Oliver Reed) and Eleanor (Janette Scott) have grown under the care of their Aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell), but both are emotionally (and psychologically) unstable as Simon is a drunk sociopath who enjoys torturing the weakened Eleanor, who lost the will to live after Tony's death. However, one day a man appears claiming to be Tony (Alexander Davion), and his appearance will shock the Asby's world to its core.

    This obscure thriller about death and insanity may not be one of Hammer's best known films, but it's certainly one of the most interesting. Written by Hammer regular Jimmy Sangster (loosely based on Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar), the film explores the reactions of the Ashbys when Tony reappears, and it certainly honors its title as the film's theme of Paranoia surrounds every member of the Ashby family. Sangster builds up an interesting tale of mystery and suspense that gets benefited by a well-developed group of characters.

    Director Freddie Francis once again excels with the cinematography (by Hammer regular Arthur Grant) of the film and gives the movie a style that mixes British melodrama with old school Gothic horror. The use of black and white (totally against Hammer style) enhances the feeling of paranoia and isolation that surrounds the Ashby family (Francis would return to this in his next film, "Nightmare"), and while it's not what one would expect from a Hammer film, it actually suits the movie better than color.

    It's true that Jimmy Sangster's characters carry the film, but a lot of the credit should also go to those who performed them. Oliver Reed gives a tour-de-force performance as Simon, in a brutal, raw and realistic way that one wonders how much of the real Reed was there. Janette Scott gives an appropriate performance, although her over-the-top melodrama at times goes on too much. Alexander Davion is quite effective as the mysterious Tony, and Liliane Brousse adds the film the sensuality and glamor needed. Finally, Sheila Burrell completes the cast with an excellent performance as Aunt Harriet.

    This low-key thriller is an excellent example that Hammer was more than Van Helsing and Frankenstein, and has withstood the test of time very well. Hammer fans may miss the typical "Hammer style" elements but the film manages to work very well without them and arguably, is better that way. It has a nice rhythm and pace for the tale, but at times it moves on too fast leaving the feeling that the film is quite short (it has in fact, a runtime of only 80 minutes). The melodrama of the film may turn off viewers expecting a scare-fest, but it gives the film a personality of its own and gives space for the characters to develop.

    Francis' career as director may be uneven but "Paranoiac" is a solid thriller that still delivers the chills and along with the superior "Nightmare", is part of a less-known side of Hammer films that explored the horror genre away from Monsters and vampires. Fans of Gothic horror and mystery films will be definitely pleased with this two films. 8/10. Very Recommended.
  • I'm a big fan of Hammer Horror, and have seen a fair few of the films made by the studio. However, none of my previous viewings could prepare me for this film - it's absolutely nothing like the Hammer Horror we know! And luckily, that isn't a bad thing. Hammer are most famous for producing fun, colourful flicks - and this one is neither of those things. Shot in black and white, and without a slither of humour in sight; Paranoiac is an entirely serious horror-drama. It's a good one too, as Oliver Reed steps into the role of spoilt brat Simon Ashby brilliantly, and you can really believe his every motivation. The plot follows Simon and the rest of the Ashby family, which is thrown into disarray when Simon's long lost brother Tony turns up. Believed to have committed suicide eight years ago, Simon and his Aunt don't believe the man claiming to be Tony and think him to be an impostor. The only member of the family who does believe that it really is Tony is the sister, Eleanor, whom Simon has being trying to drive insane so that he can get his hands on the family fortune.

    'Paranoiac' is a great title for this film, as it breathes a very paranoid atmosphere throughout. Oliver Reed's facial expressions and mannerisms help it to achieve this, and Paranoiac wouldn't be the film that it is had it not been for him starring in it. The beautiful Janette Scott stars alongside him, and makes up the rest of the central ensemble along with Alexander Davion and Sheila Burrell. The colours tend to be my favourite thing about most Hammer films, and thus I tend not to like the black and white ones as much. The lack of colour doesn't harm this film, however, as it makes up for it with a suburb atmosphere, much of which comes from the excellent black and white cinematography. The pace of the film can be a little slow at times, but it never becomes boring and Paranoiac always has enough up it's sleeve to compensate for it's less exciting moments. The plot has enough surprises entwined within it, and even though the film only has an eighty-minute running time - there's a lot of development, and the final twist is bound to catch you off guard. While this film isn't very well known - it is very good. I don't hesitate to call Paranoiac one of Hammer Horror's best little-known gems.
  • preppy-327 November 2005
    Simon Ashby (Oliver Reed) is a psychopath who is trying to scare his sister (Janette Scott) to death to get her share of their inheritance. Then their brother Tony (Alexander Davion) who supposedly committed suicide years before shows up. Then things get strange...

    Really odd film--very low key (for Hammer). For one thing it was shot in black and white, not the vivid color they usually used. Also there are no monsters here (unless you count Simon) and this is more of a thriller than a horror film. Still it works! It's beautifully directed by Freddie Francis and the plot itself has plenty of twists and turns to keep you off guard.

    The acting is good. Reed especially is fantastic--his violent rages are frightening and you can always see the madness lurking underneath him. Scott and Davion are both good-looking (especially Davion) and as good as they can be...considering they're given nothing to do. This is no masterpiece but a quick (only 80 minutes) and efficient thriller which keeps you entertained and guessing. Recommended.
  • Subtle, beautifully-shot early Hammer chiller about revenge from beyond the grave - or is it? Starring a very young Oliver Reed("The Three Musketeers", "The Brood"), who plays Simon Ashby, a bad egg in a dreadfully upper-crusty family living on a posh estate in a tiny, isolated cowmunity. Simon and his unstable sister Eleanor, played by Janette Scott("Day of the Triffids"), believe their long-lost brother Tony, who apparently threw himself off a cliff 8 years earlier, has returned from his watery grave. Tony, played by Alexander Davion("Valley of the Dolls"), may not be who he claims to be, and half a million pounds inheritance is at stake. This is a subtle, quiet thriller, very much unlike the later, gorier Hammer horror classics. Overall, the cast delivers good performances, especially Scott, but Reed always seems to be on the verge of careering out of control, in that plucky, "William Shatner-esque" way of overacting he posesses. A little dull for some tastes, "Paranoiac" nevertheless is a good film to watch if only to enjoy the lovely black & white cinematography, and to enjoy the plot's many twists. Director Freddie Francis went on to direct such Hammer classics as "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", and "Dracula Has Risen From the Grave". The MooCow says this slight Hammer classic is worth a cheapie rent, so check it out soon! ;=8)
  • The film is about a dysfunctional English family who make the folks on the Jerry Springer show seem very normal in comparison! It seems that many years earlier, two rich parents were killed in a traffic accident--leaving their three children to be raised by a nutty aunt. However, only a few years later, one of the sons apparently kills himself--leaving a flaky and emotionally fragile daughter and a son who is a spoiled little monster. This spoiled monster is played by Oliver Reed and he looked like he was having fun with this vivid role--drinking, being emotionally unstable and being an all-around jerk! The sister, never the poster child for sound mental health, begins insisting that she's seen and heard the other brother--even though he is dead. When he actually turns up alive some time later, you are left wondering if this really is the dead brother or if it's a con man. Due to this return, however, Reed begins acting much more unstable and kooky--as this reappearance has apparently pushed him over the edge of sanity.

    How all this is resolved will keep you guessing and the film is a lot of fun even though it isn't exactly subtle. And, when the mysteries are all unraveled, you probably will like the the nice twists and turns. In many ways, the movie seems inspired by films such as PSYCHO and PARANOIAC in turn seems to be, at least in part, the inspiration for future films like STRAIGHT-JACKET--all shrill but exciting suspense films.
  • The wealthy Ashby family grieves the tragedy of the death of the patriarch and matriarch Ashby in an airplane crash and their son Tony, who committed suicide, eleven years ago. Tony jumped off the cliff and his body was never found, only a suicide letter. Presently the dysfunctional Ashby family in composed by the alcoholic and reckless organist Simon Ashby (Oliver Reed); his unbalanced sister Eleanor (Janette Scott); and their overprotective aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell) and their finances are managed by the accountant John Kossett (Maurice Denham), who tries to keep SImon under control. A couple of weeks before the due date for Simon receiving his inheritance, Tony Ashby (Alexander Davion) surprisingly appears for the joy of Eleanor, but Simon and Harriet believe he is an impostor despite his knowledge about the family.

    "Paranoiac" is an intriguing and suspenseful film by Hammer, with great storyline and deceptive conclusion. The screenplay builds tension and mystery with the viewer questioning whether tony is who he says. But unfortunately the rushed and senseless conclusion disappoints. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Paranóico" ("Paranoiac")
  • Elliot-1012 November 1998
    You've often seen suspense movies in which a sudden revelation reverses everything that's come before. (Vertigo, for example.) In Paranoiac -- one of a raft of Psycho-inspired suspense thrillers from the early 60s-- these reverses come along practically every minute. The plot twists and re-twists itself over and over: Oliver Reed's brother is dead; no, he's alive, his sister saw him; no, his sister is crazy; no, Reed is trying to to make people think his sister is crazy so he can steal her inheritance; no... and that's just the first 10 minutes or so of this ingenious thriller. Highly recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Hammer may be best known for remakes of classic period horror, but I'm quickly realizing that some of their smaller black-and-white films are among the best they produced. Although my experience with these films is limited, I've enjoyed the few I've been able to see. The story in Paranoiac is not dissimilar to that of Scream of Fear (another B&W Hammer film I've reviewed) – A young girl is believed to be mad. She believes that she has seen her brother who is believed to have drowned some eight years previous. Is she really insane or is someone trying to push her over the edge? When her dead brother does make his return, it becomes increasingly obvious just who is insane.

    There are a couple of things that make Paranoiac really stand out. The first is Oliver Reed. He has always been a favorite of mine and in Paranoiac he gives a first rate performance. Reed has a tendency to be an over-the-top scene-stealer whether the plot calls for it or not. Reed's understated performance throughout most of the movie is deftly handled and a joy to watch. It's only when the script calls for his character to chew the scenery that he actually does. Overall, it's a nice, restrained performance.

    The second area where the movie excels is the cinematography. Replacing the garish colors Hammer was famous for are some very nice B&W compositions that are quite simply stunning. Regardless of whether you enjoy the plot or not, it would be difficult for anyone to argue how beautifully filmed Paranoiac is.

    Finally, the plot twists are a lot of fun to watch as they unfold. While I may have seen part of what was coming, the final twist is expertly handled and really caught me off guard.
  • I understand that Freddie Francis's "Paranoiac" is a loose adaptation of Josephine Tey's "Brat Farrar", of which I had never heard until now. It sounds as though Hammer tried to make a number of movies like "Psycho". This one isn't a bad attempt. It focuses on a man who arrives at an estate on the coast of Dorset, England, claiming to be a brother long thought dead, causing a bunch of family secrets to come out.

    Oliver Reed's unctuous, irresponsible brother is the really intense character. He refuses to believe the newcomer and goes to great lengths to keep him out of the family. Reed's evil-looking face made him the perfect man for the role. A lot of the movie has the usual stuff that we see in these movies: screaming, eerie images, etc. I did like the cinematography showing the rocky English coast; the terrain looks as sinister as anything going on in the house. In the end "Paranoiac" isn't a great movie, but worth seeing, if only once.
  • JoeKarlosi22 February 2009
    I'd never seen this Hammer film before and I finally dug it out from my Universal Hammer Collection. What a pleasant surprise it was. It is so refreshing sometimes to see black and white photography at a time when Hammer was known for its colour, and that moody b&w style really compliments this disturbing tale of a family of oddballs and what happens when one of their clan who drowned himself as a boy returns. Oliver Reed drinks as much as he did in real life here (it ultimately killed Reed) and he's really excitingly over the top. A hidden gem in some ways, PARANOIAC is well-scripted by Jimmy Sangster, and nicely directed by Freddie Francis. The more I think about it, the underrated Francis was often better than Terence Fisher. *** out of ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Paranoiac (1963): Starring Oliver Reed, Janette Scott, Sheila Burrell, Alexander Davion, Liliane Brousse, Maurice Denham, Harold Lang, Arnold Diamond, John Stuart, Laurie Leigh, Sydney Bromley, Marianne Stone, Colin Tapley, Jack Taylor....Director Freddie Francis, Screenplay Jimmy Sangster, Based On The Novel By Josephine Tey.

    The Hammer horror films, a British production, gained rapid popularity and audience in the early 60's, in the wake of such revolutionary new horror movies such as Hitchcock's "Psycho". These Hammer films were still produced well into the 1970's after actor Christopher Lee had earned success in his signature role of Dracula. In this early Hammer film directed by Freddie Francis from 1963, we meet the wealthy Ashby family who live in a beautiful estate by the sea. The entire family has felt the loss of the young Tony, a choir boy who is thought to have committed suicide by throwing himself off the cliffs and into the sea. At first, we are led to believe his older sister Eleanor (played by the beautiful and talented Janette Scott) has been most affected by his death. She begins to see him everywhere - in the church, walking by the estate grounds, etc. No one else sees him and so they believe she is going insane. Things are not always what they appear to be. The nurse hired to care for Eleanor, a French woman named Francoise (Liliane Brousse)is in actuality the lover of Simon Ashby, brother to the deceased Tony. Before long a man claiming to be Tony (Alexander Davion) appears and the drama is set into motion. No one believes that this is Tony, who was reported dead and they don't buy his tale of having been roaming for years and finally decided to show up back home. There are reasons behind the suspicions of Aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell) that he is an impostor. The movie is slow and more of a murder mystery than anything else, at times needlessly long and very talky. The mystery is slowly revealed by the impostor. Tony was murdered by Simon and he kept his cadaver hidden in a chamber where he, out of guilt and madness, plays the organ and has Aunt Harriet dress up as Tony and mimic singing his voice through a phonograph. "Paranoiac" is a about madness and deception. Aunt Harriet knew about Simon being a murderer and kept it a secret for years. There is also a matter of selfishness and desire for fortune, as portrayed in the characters of Simon and the impostor. He soon begins to change his heart when he falls for Eleanor. The hint of incest is another part of the twisted tale. They are not actually brother and sister and Eleanor learns this but she is drawn to him romantically because she had repressed desires for her brother. All this was very shocking and bold in early 1960's cinema. The film has very little action and could have benefited from supernatural elements. Why no ghost ? But it is still a dark and Gothic film and a product of its time. The dramatic, chilling music is by Elisabeth Lutyens and the impressive cinematography by Arthur Grant. The film was made in England and the panoramic scenes of the high cliffs and the sea is very symbolic of madness. It is almost Edgar Allen Poe, "Fall of the House Of Usher" in style but never quite gets to there because it's a film that does not brake any new barriers except that it has a hint of incest and mystery. It is like the screenwriter was so repressed that they did not dare go too far. But it's not one of the more successful Hammer films. For this reason, I can only rate this film a 6 out of 10. It's still very worthwhile if only to see famed actors Janette Scott and Oliver Reed in well-executed performances. The dialog is solid and the acting is powerful, especially Oliver Reed as the intense and insane Simon. A good film but not great.
  • Not really a horror film,(no monsters or gore), but a lot of creepiness and insanity. This movie has great sustained suspense that keeps you guessing what is real, which character is crazy, and which character is who they say they are. Future star Oliver Reed is very young and handsome, but hasn't learned to act very well yet, but he is entertainingly over-the-top. The whole thing is very well-done and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I just saw this film a few weeks ago & all I can say is wow! Reed plays this part without going over board the way some actors do when their playing a role like this.

    The story is regarding a young wealthy woman who see a man whom she thinks is her brother. Only one problem: he died many years ago. Once he enters her life, her other brother, played by Reed, doesn't take to kindly to this intrusion, especially considering the fact that he could lose out on his inheritance.

    If you love thrill rides, you'll love this one. Just make sure your seatbelt is fastened.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first of Hammer's psycho thrillers but not one it's best. Maybe I shouldn't have watched it so soon after the excellent 'Nightmare', or indeed before it but there you go. Similar to 'Nightmare' in that it was scripted by Jimmy Sangster and directed by Freddie Francis, and again a plot revolving around who is mad, and who isn't, the film is only effective occasionally. There's cash to be inherited and Oliver Reed wants it, and he doesn't want to share it with his sister, Jeanette Scott. When Scott apparently sees her long-dead brother at a memorial service for her parents, Reed sees this as the excuse he needs to declare her insane and keep all the cash for himself. But to throw a spanner in the works, the dead brother turns up...... This is a competent film but needed a bit more. Francis makes the film look too bright, a few more dark corners and shadows would have helped build the atmosphere some. Reed's acting doesn't shift from 'intense' mode, which is fine but a bit more ambiguity would have helped in this type of film. The plot plods along at times and could have done with being tightened; there's also plot lines that simply disappear as if Sangster had forgotten about them. At the end of the day a mediocre Hammer. Watch Nightmare to see how it should have been done.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ...and only one,I might choose this one .This is a far-fetched absorbing story of lunacy where the audience never really knows who the madcaps are.A screenplay which smartly blends imposture,degenerate ways,Poesque horror and romantic love .Oliver Reed shines in his part of a fallen aristocrat.His first appearance is worth the price of admission:as the priest is ranting about the young man tossed by the tides of misfortune ,he's pumping the organ ,smoking a cigarette in a slovenly way.The screenplay is much less derivative than the other Hammer productions -it does not match the MTV Hammer house of horror "child's play" though-and compares favorably with Val Lewton/Mark Robson's works.A short flick ,but never a dull moment.
  • A nice, low-key b&w thriller from Hammer, not typical of their product. A decadent upper-crust British family is thrown upside-down by the arrival of a mysterious man claiming to be the younger brother who drowned himself at 15. Is he really? And who is playing the organ at night? Is the sister really insane? It's a crackling good story, a tale of jealousy and murder and inheritances and people not being who they truly are. Everyone has a secret in this story, and some are surprises.

    The acting is good, especially from a young and handsome Oliver Reed who is more and more insane as the movie progresses. The crumbling house and chapel are great settings for the goings-on in the story. PARANOIAC is good Gothic suspense, great viewing on a cold gray Saturday afternoon.
  • Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, king of the recycled thriller, here does an uncredited rewrite on Josephine Tey's novel "Brat Farrar", with siblings Janette Scott and Oliver Reed on the verge of sharing the family fortune when their brother, long thought a suicide, returns to the fold. Hammer Films production, distributed stateside by Universal, eschews the Gothic castles and ghouls for psychotic relatives--and when Oliver Reed gets wound up, there's hardly anyone more off-balanced. Melodrama is certainly crisp and well-mounted, balancing shudders with general hysteria, but these mad, maddening characters do not merit much interest. ** from ****
  • The shadow of LES DIABOLIQUES (1954) and PSYCHO (1960) always loomed large over much of Hammer's output set in contemporary times; this is a moderately well-done example of that subgenre with the usual driving-an-heiress-mad plot here given a boost by the return of a long-lost brother and a would-be last minute revelation that all is not well with hard-living brother Simon Ashby (a perfectly cast Oliver Reed in a showy role). For some odd reason, I could have sworn that this film was directed by Michael Carreras, so much so that I did a double-take when Freddie Francis' name (whose first directorial job for Hammer this was) appeared on the screen; as it turned out, I was confusing this film with the similarly-titled MANIAC (1963) - unsurprisingly, another Hammer thriller in the same mould!
  • Scarecrow-8813 October 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    An impostor claiming to be Tony(Alexander Davion), a young man who had been recorded as having thrown himself over a cliff many years ago, shakes the already fragile foundation of a family riddled with psychological turmoil. Aunt Harriet(Sheila Burrell)has been trying to keep what's left of the Ashby family together despite obvious problems stemming from the loss of parents and Tony, a young 15 year old deemed as so depressed he committed suicide from sadness. Simon Ashby has spent practically his entire inheritance on booze and a fancy sports car & wants sister Eleanor's(Janette Scott)share of wealth as well. Since Tony's demise, Eleanor, who was very close to him, has been battling mental health issues. Simon has been yearning for her to completely slip off the deep end so he can gain her inheritance if the poor girl was locked away in an asylum. Meanwhile, Harriet tries to keep Simon from ruining himself on liquor among other things. As this man claiming to be Tony shows up into the picture, Simon really begins to teeter on the brink and we watch as he plans to murder his brother..and Eleanor..when his alternatives in gaining extra cash seem skittish at best.

    Hammer tries their hand at a psychological family tragedy where deception and attempts at murder weigh heavy in the story. Acting is the key ingredient..that and a little twist concerning Tony. Tony's ghost haunts this film throughout as every character, including the impostor, can not shake his looming shadow overhead. Something's got to give as Simon is so sociopathic and greedy..yet, there's something in this story, regarding Tony, that has him even wound tighter. The film has another interesting aspect that plays out as it continues..the impostor is falling in love with Eleanor, and it's easy to see why because Janette Scott imbues her with so many wonderful traits such as her innocence, gentleness & warmth..and, it doesn't hurt that she's quite striking on the eyes.

    Oliver Reed is so intense as Simon, someone clearly with a few screws that have loosened over the years, he's a force-of-nature. He IS the movie as the alcoholic basketcase willing to do whatever it takes to seize on an inheritance others stand in his way of receiving.

    But, the film is ultimately about, to me anyway, the inability to escape your guilt regarding past acts and undiscovered secrets that suffocate you. The avarice of greed is also a heavy theme as Simon would do anything to gain that extra bit to supply his alcohol habit which will drown away iniquities of the past.
  • BA_Harrison14 May 2020
    Warning: Spoilers
    From the title and year of release, one might reasonably expect Hammer's Paranoiac to be a blatant Psycho rip-off. There's definitely more than a little bit of Hitch about the film, dealing as it does with death and insanity, but this chiller from director Freddie Francis is far from a slavish copy, delivering its own very British brand of madness and murder, in many ways more unhinged than Psycho (although not quite as brilliantly executed and with far less iconic music and imagery).

    Francis's film revolves around the wealthy Ashby family, who, eleven years after the deaths of patriarch John Ashby and his wife Mary in a plane crash, and eight years after the disappearance of eldest son Tony (presumed dead from suicide), are in a bit of a state: Tony's younger brother Simon is a drunken hellraiser (the role not exactly a stretch for actor Oliver Reed) who would dearly like his pretty sister Eleanor (Janette Scott) to be certified insane, so he can inherit her share of the estate; Eleanor is already well on the way to the funny farm, suffering terribly from the loss of her sibling, so much so that she needs a live-in nurse to cater for her needs; and Aunt Harriet is suspicious and untrusting - especially when a man turns up at the house purporting to be Tony, returning home after eight years of travelling. Even the nurse, Francoise (Liliane Brousse), isn't all she claims to be.

    So far, so crazy, but it gets a whole lot more demented than that! Tony (Alexander Davion) turns out not to be Tony, just as Aunt Harriet suspects -- he's an imposter hired by the son of the family lawyer to swindle the Ashby's out of their fortune. Eleanor, reunited with Tony, or the man she believes to be Tony, becomes far more coherent, at least until she falls in love with the man she thinks is her brother, after which she thinks she is mad. To try and ensure that he gets all of the inheritance, Simon attempts to kill both Tony (or the man who is claiming to be Tony) and Eleanor, but his plan fails; it turns out that it's not the first time Simon has had murder on his mind, nor will it be the last. Aunt Harriet, meanwhile, has been skulking round in a creepy mask and pretending to be Tony as a child to prevent Simon from going completely insane. She doesn't succeed.

    Paranoiac is quite preposterous, but thoroughly entertaining, with a wonderfully bonkers turn from Reed, some well handled scenes of tension (Tony's car teetering over the edge of a cliff being a nail-biting highlight), and lots of intrigue and suspense. All this and the lovely Janette Scott and sexy mademoiselle Brousse to boot! It might not be as brilliant or as groundbreaking as Psycho, but it's still a whole lot of fun. 7.5/10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
  • Oliver Reed is terrific. Paranoiac really pays our attention with a great cast, good story and a very wonderful dark photography. It seems very slow at first and we can try to guess an usual end, but it is special for the fans of suspense.
  • This one is one of Hammer's better films... it is horror but more of a good dramatic mystery. The film does take a few twists and turns but it's not hard to figure out... it's how the movie mystery plays out that makes it so good.

    I have to agree with another reviewer this film almost an A film rather than a B. It's beautifully filmed, well acted, good story... it's a film I would definitely recommend to mystery lovers.

    Oliver Reed is gorgeous in this film and really just good to watch on screen as Simon Ashby. This is one of his better films.

  • Paranoiac is directed by Freddie Francis and loosely adapted to screenplay by Jimmy Sangster from Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar. It stars Oliver Reed, Janette Scott, Sheila Burrell and Alexander Davion. Music is by Elisabeth Lutyens and cinematography by Arthur Grant.

    The Ashby family has been blighted by tragedy. 11 years previously the parents were killed in an accident and their younger son, Tony, was so grief stricken he committed suicide by leaping off of a nearby cliff into the sea below. However, Anthony's body was never found. The remaining siblings, Eleanor (Scott) & Simon (Reed) have been raised at the family mansion by their aunt Harriet (Burrell), and neither of them have grown into stable adults. So when an adult comes into their lives claiming to be Tony it further opens up neurotic wounds and dark family secrets.

    Skeleton in the closet.

    Hammer Films tag onto the coat tails of Hitchcock's Psycho with this slick and moody psychological thriller. The studio would become synonymous with reinventing the creature feature sub-genre of horror that encompassed the likes of Dracula & Frankenstein. What often gets overlooked is that in the 60s they were producing some excellent thrillers, little seen gems that didn't even get home format releases in Britain until over 40 years later! Paranoiac is one such gem, it forms part of the thriller splinter involving someone either going insane or being driven so by unscrupulous bastards.

    Paranoiac thrives on slow burn pacing and atmospheric black and white photography, and features a roll call of characters who are either up to no good or are clearly skew-whiff in the head! Perfectly filmed out of the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, England, where the jagged cliff faces match the fragmented state of minds of the principal players, it's a film that benefits greatly from the acting on show. Reed is an oily drunk and a bully, Scott expertly portrays a timid gal clinging onto to her last bit of sanity and Burrell puts a shifty cynicism into mollycoddling Aunt Harriet. Pleasant surprise here is Davion as the man claiming to be Tony, not a well known name but he does a great job in a tricky role, with cards held close to the chest he handles a big shift in the character's fortunes with a smoothness that's most impacting.

    It's no Psycho (what is?) and it has some minor flaws in the writing, such as an incestuous thread that is never expanded on, but this is still a moody little cracker of a thriller. Slow burn for sure, but always holding the attention right up to the deliverance of a joyously macabre finale. 7.5/10
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