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Paranoiac (1963)
Not Rated

Starring: Janette Scott, Oliver Reed, and Sheila Burrell

Rating:
***
out of
*****

When most people think of Hammer Films, they'll remember Christopher Lee as Dracula or Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Hammer Horror is practically a genre in and of itself. But, Hammer Studios made more than just updated (for their time) versions of classics like Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Mummy. They created a few psychological thrillers of note as well. Paranoiac is one of them.

Simon Ashby (Oliver Reed) is about to gain full control over his deceased parents' estate. Frustrated that the monthly allowance he receives from the executor of the estate until he is of legal age cannot keep up with his love of fast cars, hard booze, and fast women, Simon becomes even more distraught when a man claiming to be his older brother, Tony (Alexander Davion), appears at the Ashby mansion. If the man is Tony, then he will gain control of the family trust and Simon will not be able to continue the lavish lifestyle to which he's become addicted.

Paranoiac was written by Jimmy Sangster, who was responsible for the scripts for Hammer's screen adaptations of Dracula, The Mummy, The Curse of Frankenstein, and many more. He's written a taut little thriller that isn't particularly original but manages to create real suspense.

Oliver Reed's portrayal of Simon is hammy but fun-to-watch. Janette Scott, who receives top billing in the credits, plays Simon's sister, Eleanor, who is the most sympathetic character in the movie. She's beautiful but her performance is merely adequate for the role.

For a film that was made in 1963, Paranoiac stands up well as a period piece. It's well-made, well-written, and entertaining. You can't ask much more from what is, for all intents and purposes, a B-movie.

Trivia: The film was released as a double bill with The Kiss of the Vampire (1963). (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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