Paul Decker murders his wife in her Italian villa by drugging her milk and asphyxiating her by gas. He cleverly locks the bedroom from the inside and hides inside a trapdoor in the floor until after the body is discovered by servants. He uses a scuba snorkel connected to tubes on the outside to breathe during the ordeal. Decker's stepdaughter Candy suspects him immediately, especially since no suicide note was found. She also is convinced that he murdered her father years before, but her accusations fall on deaf ears. The ruthless Decker even poisons the family spaniel when the pet takes too great an interest in the mask and realizes he will ultimately have to get rid of Candy too. Written by
The main gimmick of the movie - the murderer using a snorkel mask to breathe through long hoses feeding from outdoor connections - is, alas, balderdash. Those hoses are so long it would take someone with the lung capacity of a whale to draw fresh air through the long, long tubes. See more »
Out of Hammer Films, The Snorkel is directed by Guy Green and co-written by Anthony Dawson, Peter Myers & Jimmy Sangster. It stars Peter van Eyck, Betta St. John, Mandy Miller, Gregoire Aslan & William Franklyn (Wilson). Music is by Francis Chagrin and cinematography by Jack Asher.
There is no plot synopsis needed for The Snorkel because it takes us straight into the story by having us witness the perfect murder of a wife and mother, and we know who perpetrated it as well, it's the husband! There's a gimmick, the snorkel of the title, and film's success mostly hinges on a devilish twist for the finale. In between the plot revolves around the daughter of the deceased, Candy (Miller), trying to prove her stepfather has killed her mom even though it appears near impossible for him to have done so. Naturally sadistic dad has plans for Candy as well.
Coming as it did during Hammer's run of colour laden reinventions of the Universal monsters, The Snorkel, in black and white, received very little attention at home and abroad. Hammer would release in the 60s, post the success of Psycho, a number of very good black and white psychological thrillers such as Taste of Fear, Paranoiac, Nightmare and Maniac, this period of Hammer film would certainly have seen The Snorkel getting more attention publicly. However, although bad timing can account for some of the reason it was an unsuccessful release, the truth of the matter is that it's just not particularly memorable outside of the gimmick and denouement, and even then with the finale it loses dramatic impact by going on 5 minutes too long for what one imagines was a censor avoiding appeasement. A shame because acting is mostly good, Jack Asher's camera work holds the eyes and production value is higher than expected (location for the shoot was San Remo in Italy).
Undeniably it's got an interesting premise at heart, but it is kind of silly when examined still further. Making this a cautiously recommended Hammer thriller for those who have yet to see the far better films of its type that the company produced in the 60s. 5/10
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