Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hysteria (1965)

Hammer Films is known for its horror movies with Christopher Lee and the like, but they did make some other movies as well. An example is 1965's Hysteria.

Robert Webber plays Chris Smith, or at least that's the name he's going by now. He's an American in Britain being treated by psychiatrist Dr. Keller (Anthony Newlands). Apparently Chris was found in a car crash in a country part of Britain without any identification, and he lost his memory in that accident. in fact, the only thing he has is a cut-out photo of a gorgeous model. He's been trying to get his memory back, but with no luck. Dr. Keller has done all he can for Smith, too. Thankfully, some anonymous benefactor, apparently having heard about the case, has provided a penthouse apartment for Chris.

The only problem is, it's not exactly a life of luxury. It's a new building, so he's the only one occupying any of the apartments. Yet, when he goes to bed at night, he hears voices that sound like they're coming from the other penthouse. And those voices are talking about murder and other such fun stuff. Yet every time Chris goes into the other apartment, it's empty. It's enough to make a man question his sanity.

Chris tries to hire an investigator, and when he investigates the photograph, he's told by a fashion photographer that the woman in the photograph was killed in a car crash. Perhaps the same one that Chris was in? But Chris is soon about to get more reason to question his own sanity, as he thinks he sees the woman in the photo one day. And then she (Lelia Goldoni) comes out of the shadows as it were and turns out to be a real person.

However, there's still the problem of those voices coming from the other apartment, and they're getting worse, as Chris eventually finds a bloody knife and a dead body. It seems pretty clear that somebody is trying to drive Chris insane, but who? And why?

Hysteria is a movie that has an interesting premise, but one where I didn't really care for the payoff. I think it's because the plot just seems to have so many holes. If an American without a passport were in a serious car accident in Britain, you'd think the US Embassy would get involved once the guy realized he was American. And yet one would have to guess he had no family in the US. And the conspiracy to drive Chris insane is thoroughly unrealistic. In movies like My Name is Julia Ross where they can keep the poor victim confined, it's at least slightly plausible. But here it's all too far-fetched. And that's even before the reveal at the end, which gives a key character a dumb motivation for a key act.

Hysteria is available on DVD from the Warner Archive Collection since they apparently have the distribution rights to Hammer Films in the US.

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