"This place reeks of madness and decay!" Well, yes, we're in a Hammer horror mansion, so it would. This time the setting is early 19th-century Bavaria, where a baron (hammy Robert Hardy) is desperately trying to cure his... more » grown children of the hereditary affliction that bedevils them. Although it's obsessed with blood, this movie is rather anemic, notwithstanding the sexiness of early-'70s Hammer pictures. It does boast a striking cast: young hero Paul Jones was the lead singer of Manfred Mann, ethereal blonde Gillian Hills is a memorable waif (a role envisioned for Marianne Faithfull), Michael Hordern is a rabble-rousing priest, and Patrick Magee does his usual boiling-teakettle sputtering as a mad mesmerist. There's promise in Magee's weird ideas about a psychological cure for the incest-minded household, but like so much about this film, it's not as much fun as it sounds. --Robert Horton« less
hammerscholar | Liverpool, Merseyside United Kingdom | 02/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Demons of the mind is a later hammer, a 70s production from their third period ie it is bloody and features nudity and a depressing ending... [....] The director of demons of the mind, one Peter sykes brought his own imprint to this film and To the devil a daughter (while fun is a murky all-star mess), it is much, much darker than any other hammers,[....]the opening scene of the film is one of the most brilliant dream or recollection sequences in cinema (not an exaggeration). But be warned, not every scene is composed like that one, all drifting and skilful camerawork and amazing cutting. [...]this film is beautiful, eerie and dreamlike but only in parts. It is also ludicrous (psychotic and psychopathic personality order by proxy anyone?), meaningless, plotless, pretensious (actors deliver cod shakespeare addresses to themselves in theatrical earnest) and depressing (a vice or a virtue depending on your taste). But it is a fascinating film for all those reasons, actors like robin hardy and michael hordern keep a straight face delivering their lines with deadly seriousness and has Patrick Magee, a wonderful underrated british actor who always chills regardless of how timid or ineffectual his charcter is (clockwork orange as terence alexander, the masque of the red death and asylum), when he intones is his tremolous mahogany voice 'demons of the mind' it does not fall flat, it resonates and hearing it reminds me of the sensation that accompanies the turning of the pages of a book. Good and evil are never clearly defined in this film, the villagers dance en-tranced to their rituals, grins on their faces en masse while teasing a woman with a flame, when they come to deliver their justice to Hardy's character at the end they are crazed and inhuman, unlike in other hammers, again twins of evil is a good comparison where the mob is righteous and purifying and even repulsive characters appear good in their quest to destroy evil, they are sadistic and brutal. The ending is extremely uncomfortable, again purification is hammer's usual close, not this time, but i best leave that for the viewer to discover.The film as a whole contains buckets of tasteful bloodshed, much like all hammers of this period (if you've never seen someones throat torn out with a set of keys this might be for you, thankfully is not graphic) but there is no sadistic or violent sex, rather caring and unexploitative, delicate.This is a fascinating film, in turns hypnotic and strange, daft and baffling, is clearly a hammer, but it belongs to this neglected breed (captain kronos, frankenstein and the monster from hell, fear in the night, blood from the mummy's tomb) of minor classics from their twilight years, serious yet silly, beautiful amd well made yet bloody and depressing.[....]i love this film, but if you don't like the sound of the negatives i have listed here, best go get yourself plague of the zombies or another hammer from their golden age before buying this whistful, delicate yet violent melangeLush victorian credit sequence and score too (classy by any standards), thanks for reading"
Twins of Madness
hammerscholar | 08/01/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"While the title might lead you to believe that this is one of Hammer's psychological suspense movies, in fact it's a period-piece Gothic, although a peculiar one.The story is set in Bavaria circa 1830. Baron Friedrich, owner of the local castle, believes that his family is cursed with a hereditary strain of madness. Fearing that his children, Elizabeth and Emil, are afflicted with this taint, he keeps them imprisoned in their rooms. He uses drugs to sedate them and conducts dubious medical experiments in an attempt to "cure" them. Well, if they weren't crazy before, they sure are now, after years of the Baron's injurious ministrations.Elizabeth spends most of the time in a daze, but Emil periodically escapes and goes off wandering in the nearby woods, where he kills any beautiful young woman he chances to meet. He's also erotically obsessed with his sister, and schemes constantly to escape from the castle with her. Meanwhile, a demented priest stirs up the usual villagers, telling them that the Baron is a demon and must be destroyed. Pretty soon, the villagers are grabbing torches and heading for the castle. . . .The first version of the script for Demons of the Mind called for the "hereditary strain" to be lycanthropy, presumably with the Baron keeping his children imprisoned out of fear that they might become werewolves. For whatever reason, Hammer dropped this concept in favor of mere insanity, with results that remind me of one of Tennessee Williams' more lurid dramas transposed to the Gothic era.Demons of the Mind is an interesting but uneven film, which suffers from a lack of sympathetic characters. It does feature striking composition in some of the shots and good use of color. And Gillian Hills and Virginia Weatherell look quite fetching, both in and out of their clothes."
A neglected gem
Christopher Baum | Astoria, NY | 12/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although often overlooked, this ranks with Peter Sasdy's "Hands of the Ripper" as one of the finest and most unconventional films produced by Hammer in the 1970s. It looks gorgeous - thanks partially to expert cinematography by the great Arthur Grant, and partially to the use of real locations instead of the usual studio sets. Peter Sykes' direction is outstanding; the film's lush visual poetry carries an erotic charge that is a far cry indeed from the embarassed girlie-magazine imagery of so many of Hammer's "sexy" films of the period ("Lust for a Vampire," for instance). The performances (by an exceptionally fine cast) are generally excellent, although Robert Hardy overacts badly. The film also contains some of Harry Robinson's best music, most notably in an early sequence that runs for several minutes without any dialogue at all. One of the film's most attractive features is the way in which it consistently turns the conventions of Hammer horror on their heads. Wild coach rides, sinister mansions, torch-bearing villagers, a series of monstrous murders of busty barmaids - all the usual Hammer paraphernalia are here, but many of them are put to unconventional or at least subtly different uses. The story itself is equally unusual, with shades of Mesmer and a complete absence of supernatural forces. For all its novelty, however, you may find it a bit dull. But with so many incidental pleasures, who cares? This is a fine and enjoyable film - one of the last really solid efforts produced by Hammer before its gradual disintegration.The DVD commentary track is definitely worth a listen. It features Sykes, screenwriter Christopher Wicking (as always, an intelligent and refreshing interrogator of the horror genre), and actress Virginia Wetherell, who has only a small role in the film but delivers some of the most interesting commentary. All in all, another fine addition to Anchor Bay's very welcome Hammer Collection."
"It's in the blood"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 01/05/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hammer Studios 1972 release of Demons of the Mind wasn't quite what I expected...it does have a number of the markings of a Hammer film, gothic settings, lush scenery, horse drawn coaches, angry villagers, a little blood, and let's not forget the naked women, but it takes a different turn in the type of story presented. There are hints of a physical monster, but the real terror appears to us in a more metaphysical sense.The movie is very slow going for about the first half, as the movie seems clutch to certain plot elements like a miser to his coins, not sharing much. Patience is needed, but may not be worth the wait for someone expecting a more traditional Hammer horror film in the manner of Dracula or Frankenstein. I recognize and appreciate the effort made to try and expand on the traditional Hammer format, but I just didn't feel this movie clicked entirely with me. I didn't so much mind the slow pacing, but the horror was more obtuse and unfocused, in my opinion.The story involves a Baron and his semi-adult children and a horrible event that happened when the children were much younger. They seem to suffer some sort of malady, which the Baron is convinced is 'in the blood', so he keeps them drugged up real good and uses archaic techniques of blood letting to try and find the cause, which renders his children pale and weak. There is murder, incest, and a slight mystery involving a subplot about nearby village women being murdered, but the mystery isn't much of a mystery.Not a bad movie, and I really did enjoy the gothic feel throughout. I also really enjoyed Patrick Magee's (A Clockwork Orange) performance as Falkenburg, a doctor with dubious credentials enlisted by the Baron to assist in helping the Baron cure his children from their 'Demons of the Mind'. Another notable actor in this movie is Paul Jones, lead singer of the 60's rock group Manfred Mann.Anchor Bay releases an excellent wide screen print of the film, along with the standard trailer and also includes a separate commentary track with the director, the writer, and one of the actresses, of which I have not had the opportunity to listen to yet...and look for the excellent and thorough 'liner' notes in the small foldout inside the DVD case."
Mark McKinney | Maryland | 02/29/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"A young man and his sister are kept locked away in their rooms by their father, who is a wealthy nobleman. The father says his children have demons of the mind and brings in a doctor to help cure them. At the same time someone is killing young women in the town and the townspeople are trying to figure out who. A strange priest also wanders around babbling about some evil that is present and says he is preparing to stop it. Eventually all of the above come to a head at the same time and place. The first half hour is slick and sometimes eerie due to good photography and strong settings. The film then begins to unravel into a very predictable film that revolves around sexual obsessions more than anything else. The film still looks good, but eventually it cannot help hold up the mess that this film becomes. Robert Hardy (the father) is wasted in this dribble that really started out as something, but falls apart in a hurry."