Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)

aka Fanatic
Article 2713 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-7-2008
Posting Date: 1-16-2009
Directed by Silvio Narizzano
Featuring Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers, Peter Vaughan
Country: UK

An American woman agrees to visit the mother of her deceased fiance, unaware that his mother is a religious fanatic. The mother, appalled at the worldliness of her son’s intended, holds her prisoner with the intent of forcing her to reform.

This is another of Hammer’s entries in the “horror hag” cycle that became popular in the sixties, in which aging Hollywood actresses were given top billing in horror movies. I don’t find this one as fun or as interesting as the two Bette Davis ones they did (THE NANNY and THE ANNIVERSARY), though it’s not a bad movie. It goes into the category of what I call “frustration horror”, in which most of the running time seems to be concerned with abortive attempts of a heroine to escape danger, and after a while you get frustrated because you know the movie has been set up so that there’s no way she is going to escape until the end of the movie (that is, if she escapes at all). This was Tallulah Bankhead’s last on-screen movie role (she would do voice work on THE DAYDREAMER). Unfortunately, I found her performance to be too mannered and theatrical for her to be really effective here; it’s okay when she’s terrorizing the heroine, but when the movie starts digging into her psyche and tries to garner some sympathy for her, her performance gets in the way. I think it works best at the beginning before the heroine is made a prisoner; it has a nice sense of humor up to that point. It’s also another opportunity to catch Donald Sutherland in an early character role, that of a dimwitted handyman.


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