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Jean Carter, nine-year-old daughter of the town's newly-appointed school principal, Peter Carter and his wife Sally, is playing in the woods with her 11-year-old friend Lucille, when Jean discovers she has lost her purse containing her "candy" money. Lucille tells her she knows where they can get sweets for nothing, and leads her to an imposing mansion, from which the owner, Clarence Olderberry, Sr., a tall, gaunt man of 70 has been watching the girls from a window. That night Jean, unable to sleep, tells her parents that Oldeberry made her and Lucille dance before him nude in exchange for some candy. Carter files a complaint, but the local police chief, Captain Hammond, is skeptical of Jean's story and warns Carter that the Oldenberry family put the town on the map and have far more standing in the community than the new-comer Carters. Oldenberry, Jr. also tells Carter that if he follows up on the complaint he may be certain that Oldenberry's lawyers will show Jean no mercy. In the ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is yet another small scale and less popular Hammer film, but still one that gives the studio's more well respected efforts a run for their money. This film is macabre in a way unlike most other Hammer movies. The frightening things about this film don't come from overly maniacal characters or fantasy monsters - but from a threat that has become more widespread in the past few decades. The main theme here is paedophilia, and it feels odd watching this film as the attitudes expressed towards the hideous act are nothing like they are today. Because paedophilia is more often heard about now, the film isn't quite so frightening - but somehow it feels like it wasn't as frightening back in 1960 as it must have seemed like quite an outlandish idea. The plot follows a couple of young girls. One of them loses her 'candy money' and the other says she knows where they can get some free candy. They go to Mr Olderberry's house, but when the young girl comes home saying that the old man made them take their clothes off and dance for candy - her parents, new in town, decide to take the powerful Olderberry family to court.
Aside from showing a real life monster, the film would also appear to want to serve as a warning against immoral lawyers manipulating the truth to get the wealthy off the hook. Director Cyril Frankel seems to want to take a moral stance on these issues, and that's no bad thing. There is a macabre atmosphere in the film, but the bulk of it happens in a courtroom. Hammer may be famous for horror, and this film does feature some towards the end - but on the whole it's more of a courtroom drama than anything else. This isn't a bad thing, however, as the courtroom action is always interesting and this is backed up by an undercurrent of terror as we get to watch a guilty man walk free. The acting is pretty decent, with Janina Faye standing out the most. It's hard to judge the production values as my copy wasn't exactly great, but I doubt that the film was short on budget; and there's nothing in the film that would have been particularly expensive anyway. Overall, Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is a damn good lesser known Hammer flick that boils down to a terrifying and memorable conclusion, and it therefore comes recommended to anyone who enjoys a good thriller!
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