This is Hammer Studios at their finest. Taking the truly unscary and making it… well, scary. The Snorkel does not feature the next Freddy Kruger mega-slasher, but it clearly demonstrates the ingenuity of this contributor to classic horror cinema.
Is the Snorkel a cheap way to produce a picture and make a buck? Sure. The killer uses suffocating gas instead of a machete. This early slasher’s mask is a snorkel that the killer uses to protect himself from the fumes. The snorkel, diving suit is actually a pretty impressive scare tactic and effective. No blood. No gore. No decay. Hammer made itself famous on Dracula and Frankenstein for two reasons: Color photography of ultra red blood and busty scream queens that turned out to captivate audiences and leave men drooling and intrigued. This movie has neither.
I saw this picture based on the recommendation by a Bloody-Disgusting entry on the “Top 10 Scary Movies You’ve Never seen”. I won’t say it’s the scariest picture I’ve ever seen; it reaches for its narrative and grabs for scares throughout most of the picture, but the ending is well worth the wait. It’s like any decent Hammer picture; you see the twist coming, but you don’t know how far it will turn. The Snorkel has nothing on the underwater ghost from Scooby Doo, but it definitely beats out the appearance of Don Knotts.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
The humor is a bit dated for any audience used to even the mildest of horror comedy entries thoughout the last thirty years. Think of how far we’ve come since these two chaps meet up with Frankie. Any number of horror hosts cracking punny jokes. Student Bodies. Scary Movie 1-5000. Saturday the 14th. Shaun of the Dead.
You may laugh at the slapstick if you’re a fan of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, but the reason to watch it is because it’s an early example of the studios realizing that horror and comedy are yin and yang. They balance each other quite well and keep audiences in the seat. The monster costumes can still give you a good fright if you’re scared by Frankenstein, Dracula or the Wolfman and that’s probably a big “if” given what even cartoons do today.
Some of the jokes will still get you even though they are over 60 years old, and you’ve probably heard them before out of context. Classic actors in their Universal Monster garb don’t hurt either. Another entry into the Fangoria Top 300 from Issue 300 and excellent viewing for the historical horror movie fan or for family movie night around Halloween.
Our second Hammer picture in tonight’s DON’T series is another sleeper of sorts. It’ll keep you calmly entertained for about 78% of the film. It’ll make you long for the days of three color Technicolor and for horror movies founded on Greek mythology. The music is definitely strange and noteworthy as well.
This is pre-Hammer self-cannibalization which means it’s not another Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy picture combined with a prefix. The Gorgon has some original effects with an ending that’ll make you clap at the screen. It’s no Harryhausen, but this is twenty years Clash of the Titans’ senior. I’m not sure if Harryhausen was influenced by this picture but I’d like to think somewhere in the back of his subconscious he was recalling his youth in the movie theatre.
And in the event that you don’t find this one quite up to your speed make sure to listen to this offering “The Gorgon” Live by Angel Witch:
Cushing. Lee. Shelley. It’s got the classic Hammer folks. Not for the true mythology geek either as it veers clear away from classical stories from the Mediterranean.
I wanna leave you with this picture because I find it truly creepy. Basic idea is a murderous daughter will get her way by whatever means necessary under the watchful eye of her protective mother. It’s a tale for the ages and probably one with some valid morale fiber that we should all be eating. If horror movies truly are the modern day equivalent of Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Old Peter Fairy Tales than this movie’s mark is clear and it’s right up there with the tale of so many sour grapes.
There some fantastic actors and actresses who present this film as if it were a play in three acts. Patty McCormack puts on a n impressive performance for a childhood actress. Creepy. Seductive and conniving in only that way that children know how to be to get their way. The cast even takes their bows at the end as if it were a play.
Make sure to stay for the entire credit sequence. There’s a surprise at the end and makes one wonder if this is the movie that inspired the mid/post credit surprise that has lead to so many film fan boys sitting through the entirety of the credits waiting for the final kill or plot twist or sequel indicator. Worth nothing is that Eli Roth was set to remake this puppy so if that happens at least you’ll be able to site whether his remake or the remake of Village of the Damned is more caustic to loyal fans of the original. Wonder how Eli Roth, a splat pack member, will gore up the Bad Seed. Maybe he’ll put a Lolita spin on it to really offend.
The newest film listed above is from is from 1964, so we might be reaching back a little out of your comfort zone. I know quite a few genre fans have a favorite era and a limit to just how far back they’re willing to reach for a scare or novel movie in terms of decades. Some stop at 70’s slasher flicks. Others go back to Hammer and then stop saying the Universal era movies are unrealistic or simply too fantastic to enjoy (not to mention their strange sense of humor present in most 30’s and 40’s horror pictures). Others don’t get out of modern day gore splashers. The films above are more subtle offerings that pack a punch and appeal to the very basic horror lover in all of us. Given the chance, they might even spook you if you can let yourself take time to smell the formaldehyde. Most of these pictures are good for the kiddies too… no gore or blood or boobs or cursing. Just some ideas that might keep them up at night or maybe ideas that will keep you up at night thinking about what they might be thinking of doing to you.