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An American wakes up in an English hospital unable to remember anything of his life before a recent car accident. With only a photograph torn from a newspaper to guide him, and an unknown benefactor, he attempts to unravel what looks increasingly like a bizarre murder. Written by
Unusual Hammer film but definitely worth checking out!
Hammer studios gained fame and fortune by producing tons of eerie horror films, filled with monsters, madmen or classic gothic influences. In short, films high on adrenalin and action. Hysteria is one of their least known films just because it's the exact opposite. It's a mysterious, slow-moving thriller that requires a little more thinking and involvement from the viewer. An American (Robert Webber, known from cinema classics like `12 Angry Men' and `Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia') wakes up in a British hospital after a car-accident. He suffers from a bad case of amnesia and he has to start digging into his own past and personality. The only thing he was carrying at the time of the accident was a picture of a stunningly beautiful, mysterious girl! Also, someone is paying for his hospital bills and arranged an apartment for him but he has no idea who that is.
Hysteria contains a few nice and unpredictable twists and the screenplay is overall solid and realistic. Alfred Hitchcock influences are never far away. Jimmy Sangster, who delivered many decent scripts for Hammer productions in his career, wrote the film and co-produced. There's a compelling atmosphere to detect and the cheap black and white photography helps increasing the suspense. Too bad about the constant guiding Jazz music which isn't really appropriate for this type of film. Judging by modern standards, the film is now pretty dated and heavily flawed, but with the right state of mind, you'll be enjoying this old-fashioned, low budgeted film. Freddie Francis is a professional director, not afraid to bring a little diversity in his career. He directed famous Hammer stories (Dracula has Risen from the Grave, the Creeping Flesh) as well as modest, more story driven tales like this one but also `Paranoiac' and `Nightmare'. Good acting as well! Robert Webber is very convincing and the gorgeous beauty Lelia Goldina (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) portrays a terrific muse. Recommended!
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