Hysteria (1965)

Article 1993 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-29-2006
Posting Date: 1-26-2007
Directed by Freddie Francis
Featuring Robert Webber, Anthony Newlands, Jennifer Jayne

An amnesiac tries to track down information about a mysterious benefactor who has been footing the bill for his medical treatment, and tries to discover the identity of a woman whose torn picture remains the sole possession found with him at the time of his accident. He begins to hallucinate about hearing a murder when there’s no one around.

Despite the fact that Hammer was best known for their color period horror series films, I’m personally much more partial to their black-and-white modern day non-series thrillers like this one. Given the title, I was fully expecting a variant on PSYCHO, but instead, the movie made me think of another one-word Hitchcock film, VERTIGO. In some ways, the plot set-up is quite predictable; you know the amnesiac is not going crazy and that he’s being manipulated by unscrupulous individuals towards an unknown end, but I like the element of mystery that surrounds stories like this, and I like to speculate on who of the many people encountered by the amnesiac will turn out to be friends and who will turn out to be schemers. This one is pretty good, though it does get a little uneven in the middle of the story; the long flashback sequence which explains how the main character got into the accident that caused his loss of memory in the first place ends up not really adding too much to the story. At least one of the twists reminds me of a similar one in TASTE OF FEAR, which is really the better movie of the two, but this one was quite satisfying for me as well.


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