Film Review – FANATIC (1965)

FANATIC (1965, UK, 96m, 15) ***
Horror, Thriller
dist. Columbia Pictures; pr co. Hammer Films; d. Silvio Narizzano; w. Richard Matheson (based on the novel “Nightmare” by Anne Blaisdell); pr. Anthony Hinds; ph. Arthur Ibbetson (Colour | 1.85:1); m. Wilfred Josephs; ed. John Dunsford; pd. Peter Proud.
cast: Tallulah Bankhead (Mrs. Trefoile), Stefanie Powers (Patricia Carroll), Peter Vaughan (Harry), Maurice Kaufmann (Alan Glentower), Yootha Joyce (Anna), Donald Sutherland (Joseph), Gwendolyn Watts (Gloria), Robert Dorning (Ormsby), Philip Gilbert (Oscar), Winifred Dennis (Shopkeeper), Diana King (Woman Shopper), Henry McGee (Rector (uncredited)).
This is a largely effective psychological thriller starring Powers as an American woman who travels to London to marry her boyfriend (Kaufmann). While there, she stops by to visit the mother of her deceased ex-fiancé (Bankhead), intending to pay her respects. Upon arriving, however, Powers discovers that Bankhead’s grief for her son has transformed her into a sociopath and Bankhead holds Powers prisoner to cleanse her soul. Bankhead has great fun as the unhinged religious fanatic, whilst Powers is also good as the unwitting victim of her obsession. There are good roles for Joyce and Vaughan as Bankhead’s hired help who have become converted to Bankhead’s preaching. Sutherland makes his big-screen debut as a simple-minded hired hand. There are occasional stylish touches from director Narizzano, despite sometimes jarring tonal shifts during the first act, and the story comes nicely to the boil in its finale. US title: DIE! DIE! MY DARLING.