Film Review – CANNON: HE WHO DIGS A GRAVE (TV) (1973)

Cannon (1971)CANNON: HE WHO DIGS A GRAVE (TV) (1973, USA) ***
Action, Crime, Mystery
dist. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); pr co. Quinn Martin Productions (QM); d. Richard Donner; w. Stephen Kandel (based on the novel “He Who Digs a Grave” by David Delman); exec pr. Quinn Martin; pr. Adrian Samish; ph. Jack Swain (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); th m. John Carl Parker; m sup. John Elizalde; ed. Ray Daniels, Jerry Young; ad. Bill Kenney; set d. Frank Lombardo; rel. 12 September 1973 (USA); cert: PG; r/t. 100m.

cast: William Conrad (Frank Cannon), Anne Baxter (Mayor Helen Blyth), Barry Sullivan (Sheriff Jesse Luke), David Janssen (Ian Kirk), Murray Hamilton (Arthur Gibson), Tim O’Connor (Martin Ross), Louise Troy (Louise Gibson), Lee Purcell (Marion Luke), Martine Bartlett (Hanna Freel), Royal Dano (Doctor), Robert Hogan (Deputy Coleman), R.G. Armstrong (Banner), Dabbs Greer (Windom Salter), Jerry Ayres (Deputy Reber), Lenore Kasdorf (Sherry Benson), Cathy Lee Crosby (Irene Kirk), Dennis Rucker (Wade Gibson), Virginia Gregg (Dr. Emma Savonka), Bill Quinn (Ben Salter).

Cannon  (Conrad) travels to the quiet, remote town of Mercer, California to help his friend Ian Kirk (Janssen, in a rare late career guest slot) who is suspected of murdering his rich wife (Crosby) and her paramour Wade Gibson (Rucker). As Cannon tries to prove his friend’s innocence, he gets help from the mayor (Baxter) but is stymied in his efforts by the sheriff (Sullivan)’s office. Several other viable suspects present themselves, people who had reason to hate Wade, including his stepfather (Hamilton) and the sheriff’s daughter (Purcell). This feature-length opener to season three of the popular TV series is a more complex mystery than the standard TV fare, reflecting its literary roots (it was based on a novel by David Delman). There is a great role for Baxter as the small town’s mayor who seems to be the only one in turn willing to give Conrad a fair crack of the whip. The action scenes are well-mounted, and Donner works the script well, but the camera work is largely unimaginative, lacking the hand-held realism of the pilot film. Nevertheless, the strong cast and script make this an enjoyable episode. Shot on location in Grass Valley, northern California.

Film Review – THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO (TV) (1972)

The Streets of San Francisco: The Pilot | Not The Baseball PitcherTHE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO (TV) (1972, USA) ***
Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery
dist. American Broadcasting Company (ABC); pr co. Quinn Martin Productions (QM) / Warner Bros. Television; d. Walter Grauman; w. Edward Hume (based on the novel “Poor, Poor Ophelia” by Carolyn Weston); exec pr. Quinn Martin; pr. Arthur Fellows, Adrian Samish; ass pr. Howard P. Alston; ph. William W. Spencer (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Patrick Williams; m sup. John Elizalde; ed. Richard K. Brockway; ad. Richard Y. Haman; set d. Hoyle Barrett; cos. Edward McDermott, Paula Giokaris; m/up. Don Schoenfeld, Annabell Levy; sd. Ray Barons, Bill Phillips (Mono); rel. 16 September 1972 (USA), 19 November 1973 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 98m.

cast: Karl Malden (Detective Lt. Mike Stone), Robert Wagner (David J. Farr), Michael Douglas (Inspector Steve Keller), Andrew Duggan (Capt. A.R. Malone), Tom Bosley (Saretti), John Rubinstein (Lindy), Carmen Mathews (Sally Caswell), Edward Andrews (Joe Caswell), Lawrence Dobkin (Gregory Praxas), Kim Darby (Holly Jean Berry), Brad David (Del Berry), Mako (Kenji), Naomi Stevens (Mrs. Saretti), Lou Frizzell (Lou), Bill Quinn (Medical Examiner), Richard Brian Harris (Auto Mechanic), William Swan (Larry Pyle), Victor Millan (Tony – Detective), June Vincent (Diana), Robert Mandan (Dockmaster).

SFPD Detective Lieutenant Michael Stone (Malden) is partnered with a young college-educated Inspector, Steven Keller (Douglas), as they investigate a girl found dead in the water with a lawyer (Wagner) she knew as the primary suspect. Introductory film for the TV series that ran for five seasons from 1972-7. The film benefits from extensive location work and the instant chemistry between leads Malden and Douglas. The mystery is adapted from a novel by Carolyn Weston, which featured different lead characters. Wagner is the chief suspect as the slimy lawyer who became involved with the dead girl (played in flashback by Darby). Dobkin also gives a notable performance as an eccentric former movie star. The material is handled a little flatly by Graumann but is tightly edited and contains a memorable theme from composer Williams. Followed twenty years later by BACK TO THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO (1992).

Film Review – GUNSMOKE: RETURN TO DODGE (TV) (1987)

Download Gunsmoke, Return to Dodge (Western 1987) James Arness 720p Torrent | 1337xGUNSMOKE: RETURN TO DODGE (TV) (1987, USA) ***
Western
dist. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); pr co. CBS Entertainment Production; d. Vincent McEveety; w. Jim Byrnes; pr. John Mantley, Stanley Hough; ph. Charles Correll (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Jerrold Immel; m sup. Robert Drasnin; ed. Ray Daniels; pd. Albert Heschong; set d. Bruce Sinski; cos. Frances Harrison Hays; m/up. Al Magallon, Iloe Flewelling, Byrd Holland; sd. G. Michael Graham (Mono); st. Billy Burton, Brent Woolsey; rel. 26 September 1987 (USA); cert: 15; r/t. 100m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Buck Taylor (Newly), Fran Ryan (Hannah), Earl Holliman (Jake Flagg), Ken Olandt (Lt. Dexter), William Morgan Sheppard (Digger McCloud), Patrice Martinez (Bright Water), Tantoo Cardinal (Little Doe), Steve Forrest (Will Mannon), Mickey Jones (Oakum), Frank Totino (Logan), Robert Koons (Warden Amos Brown), Walter Kaasa (Judge Collins), Georgie Collins (Mrs. Collins), Tony Epper (Farnum McCloud), Louie Elias (Bubba), Ken Kirzinger (Potts), Denny Arnold (Clyman), Alex Green (The Flogger).

Will Mannon (Forrest) is released from a frontier prison and promptly goes in search of the people who put him there some 12 years ago — Matt Dillon (Arness) and Kitty Russell (Blake). This TV movie plays heavily on nostalgia with a few references to episodes from the latter stages of the series’ original twenty year run. This is a sequel to the episode “Mannon”, which aired in January 1969. Forrest picks up where he left off from that show as the villain sworn on revenge and who has no redeeming characteristics. He shares screen time with a secondary plot line involving Holliman, who escapes prison in an attempt to warn Arness, but become embroiled with former gang members looking to chase him down for the bounty. Arness gives a mean and gritty performance and is briefly reunited with Blake, who slips easily back into her role as Kitty. The finale is an inevitable showdown on the streets of Dodge City which harks back to the early days of the show. Filmed not in the wilds of Kansas but in the picturesque Alberta, Canada. Followed by GUNSMOKE: THE LAST APACHE (1990).

Film Review – CANNON (TV) (1971)

Cannon: Season One, Volume One : DVD Talk Review of the DVD VideoCANNON (TV) (1971, USA) ***
Action, Crime, Mystery, Drama
dist. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); pr co. Quinn Martin Productions / Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); d. George McCowan; w. Edward Hume; exec pr. Quinn Martin; pr. Arthur Fellows, Adrian Samish; ass pr. Howard P. Alston; ph. John A. Alonzo (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. John Carl Parker; ed. Jerry Young; ad. Philip Barber; set d. Ray Molyneaux; cos. Dorothy H. Rodgers, Eric Seelig; m/up. Richard Cobos, Gloria Montemayor; sd. Robert J. Miller (Mono (Westrex Recording System)); rel. 26 March 1971 (USA), 21 October 1972 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 98m.

cast: William Conrad (Frank Cannon), J.D. Cannon (Lt. Kelly Redfield), Lynda Day George (Christie Redfield), Murray Hamilton (Virgil Holley), Earl Holliman (Magruder), Vera Miles (Diana Langston), Barry Sullivan (Calhoun), Keenan Wynn (Eddie), Lynne Marta (Trudy Hewett), Norman Alden (Mitchell), Ellen Corby (Teacher), John Fiedler (Jake), Lawrence Pressman (Herb Mayer), Ross Hagen (Red Dunleavy), Robert Sorrells (Tough in Blue Moon bar), Pamela Dunlap (Laverne Holley), Jimmy Lydon (Betting Clerk), William Joyce (Ken Langston), Wayne McLaren (Jackie / T.J.).

William Conrad stars as portly private detective Frank Cannon who investigates the murder of his ex-girlfriend (Miles)’s husband and gets entangled in small-town corruption. This is the pilot for the long-running series, which ran for five seasons from 1972-76. The story may be a standard mystery, but Conrad’s colourful performance and a strong guest cast make it an enjoyable movie. McCowan directs with some flair and adds a gritty realism through his frequent use of hand-held camera. A reunion movie THE RETURN OF FRANK CANNON (1980) appeared later.

Film Review – THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: THE FIFTEEN YEARS LATER AFFAIR (1983)

THE RETURN OF THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: THE FIFTEEN YEARS LATER AFFAIR (TV) (1983, USA) **½
Action, Crime, Thriller
dist. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); pr co. Richard Sloan Productions / Viacom Productions; d. Ray Austin; w. Michael Sloan (based on the TV series created by Sam Rolfe); exec pr. Michael Sloan; pr. Nigel Watts; ph. Fred J. Koenekamp (DeLuxe. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Gerald Fried; th m. Jerry Goldsmith; ed. George Jay Nicholson; ad. Herman F. Zimmerman; set d. Charles Pierce; cos. Robert B. Harris, Barbara Siebert; m/up. Mike Moschella, Jean Austin; sd. Dale Johnson, William Randall, Jim Cook (Mono (Glen Glenn Sound)); sfx. Cliff Wenger; st. Ben Jensen; rel. 5 April 1983 (USA), 21 April 1984 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 96m.

cast: Robert Vaughn (Napoleon Solo), David McCallum (Illya Kuryakin), Patrick Macnee (Sir John Raleigh), Tom Mason (Benjamin Kowalski), Gayle Hunnicutt (Andrea Markovitch), Geoffrey Lewis (Janus), Anthony Zerbe (Justin Sepheran), Keenan Wynn (Piers Castillian), Simon Williams (Nigel Pennington-Smythe), John Harkins (Alexi Kemp), Jan Tríska (Vaselievich), Susan Woollen (Janice Friday), Carolyn Seymour (Actress), George Lazenby (J.B.), Judith Chapman (Z-65), Dick Durock (Guiedo), Lois De Banzie (Delquist), Randi Brooks (The Model), Jack Somack (The Tailor), Eddie Baker (Salesman).

The criminal organization THRUSH steals the A-bomb H957 and demands $350,000,000 to be delivered within 72 hours by their former antagonist Solo. So U.N.C.L.E. has to reactivate the super agents Solo (Vaughn) and Kuryakin (McCallum) after they were 15 years out of business. Equipped in the usual 007 fashion they start to seek the villains. This is a reunion with tongue firmly placed in cheek. The movie seems to push more into James Bond territory with its references (including Lazenby’s cameo as “J.B.” driving an Aston Martin DB5) and its big finale (which is well-staged for a TV budget). Vaughn and McCallum slip back easily into their roles and although the film gets off to a fairly ropey and hammy start (notably Hunnicutt’s overly forced Russian accent), it settles down into a slick, but light entertainment. the script is a mix of awful dialogue, in-jokes and knowing winks at the audience. A true guilty pleasure.

TV Review – STRIKE: LETHAL WHITE (2020)

What is Strike: Lethal White on BBC One tonight and how many episodes are  there?STRIKE: LETHAL WHITE (2020, UK) ***½
Crime, Drama. Mystery
net. British Broadcasting Corportation (BBC); pr co. Bronte Film and TV; d. Susan Tully; w. Tom Edge (based on the novel by J.K. Rowling (as Robert Galbraith)); exec pr. Neil Blair, Tommy Bulfin, Tom Edge, Ruth Kenley-Letts, J.K. Rowling; pr. Jackie Larkin; ph. Tomasz Naumiuk (Colour. 1.78:1); m. Adrian Johnston; m sup. Phil Canning; ed. Steve Singleton; pd. Alison Riva; ad. Abbie Bellwood; set d. Sophia Millar; cos. Henrietta Nieper; m/up. Caroline Greenough, Karen Scott; sd. John Rodda (Dolby Digital); st. Crispin Layfield; tr. 30 August – 13 September 2020; r/t. 4 x 60m.

cast: Tom Burke (Cormoran Strike), Holliday Grainger (Robin Ellacott), Kerr Logan (Matthew Cunliffe), Nick Blood (Jimmy Knight), Robert Glenister (Jasper Chiswell), Joseph Quinn (Billy Knight), Sophie Winkleman (Kinvara Chiswell), Christina Cole (Izzy Chiswell), Adam Long (Raff Chiswell), Natalie Gumede (Lorelei Bevan), Saffron Coomber (Flick Purdue), Danny Ashok (Aamir Malik), Robert Pugh (Geraint Ifon Winn), Jack Greenlees (Sam Barclay), Natasha O’Keeffe (Charlotte Campbell), Ann Akin (Vanessa Ekwensi), Anna Cannings (Della Winn), Robyn Holdaway (Hayley), Kathleen Cranham (Shanice), Bronagh Waugh (Dawn Clancy), Silas Carson (Henry Drummond), Sophie Colquhoun (Sarah Shadlock), Suzanne Burden (Linda Ellacott), Paul Butterworth (Michael Ellacott), Joe Johnsey (Martin Ellacott), Nicholas Agnew (Tom Turvey), Judi Kenley (Robin’s Aunt), Suzanne Toase (Denise), James Mellish (Freddie), Jamie Ankrah (Alfie), Joel Gillman (Digby), Ruth Lass (Dr. Elspeth Curtis-Lacey), Jacqueline Boatswain (Claire Morbury), Julie Morgan Price (Georgina).

Cormoran Strike (Burke) and Robin Ellacott (Grainger) are back, and at odds following Robin’s wedding to Matthew (Logan). But there is no time to mull on the new distance within their professional relationship, as a frightening visit from a potential client puts a new case on the table – and Robin and Strike set to work looking into reports of a strangled child. With the detective agency thriving, the duo is also recruited to investigate the blackmail of a Government Minister (Glenister) and Robin is tasked with going undercover in the House of Commons. Rowling’s fourth hefty Cormoran Strike novel (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) is faithfully adapted in this long and complex mystery. Technical credits are top class and the performances of the cast are uniformly excellent. Burke and Grainger have established a great rapport as the lead detectives. This is ultimately a well-written and traditional mystery thriller with continuing personal arcs from earlier stories, which casual viewers may find difficult to follow. However, fans of the books and demanding mysteries will not be disappointed.

Film Review – ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1975)

BBC Two - All Creatures Great and SmallALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1975, UK/USA) ***½
Biography, Drama
dist. EMI Film Distributors ; pr co. EMI Film Distributors / Venedon Ltd.; d. Claude Whatham; w. Hugh Whitemore (based on the books by James Herriot); exec pr. Nat Cohen; pr. Duane Bogie, David Susskind; ass pr. Cecil F. Ford; ph. Peter Suschitzky (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.66:1); m. Wilfred Josephs; ed. Ralph Sheldon; pd. Geoffrey Drake; set d. Fred Carter; cos. Yvonne Blake; m/up. Alan Brownie, Ronnie Cogan; sd. Ken Barker, Anthony Jackson, John Poyner, Clive Smith (Mono); rel. 4 February 1975 (USA), 8 May 1975 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 92m.

cast: Simon Ward (James), Anthony Hopkins (Siegfried), Lisa Harrow (Helen), Brian Stirner (Tristan), Freddie Jones (Cranford), T.P. McKenna (Soames), Daphne Oxenford (Mrs. Pumphrey), Jane Collins (Connie), Glynne Geldart (Joyce), Brenda Bruce (Miss Harbottle), Christine Buckley (Mrs. Hall), John Collin (Mr. Alderson), Jane Solo (Brenda), Harold Goodwin (Dinsdale’s Uncle), Doreen Mantle (Mrs. Seaton), John Nettleton (Head Waiter), Bert Palmer (Mr. Dean (as Burt Palmer)), John Rees (Geoff Mallock), Jenny Runacre (Pamela), Fred Feast (Farmer in Cinema).

Charming pre-WWII story of a young vet (Ward) who joins the practice of the eccentric Hopkins in the Yorkshire Dales. There he meets and courts Harrow and encounters tight-fisted farmers as he comes to terms with life in the country. Whilst the film is largely episodic and inconsequential, the warmth of the characters, the often funny situations they find themselves in and the performances of an enthusiastic cast prove to be a winning mixture. Hopkins is splendid in a role tailor-made for him. There is also great use of the Yorkshire locations. Part-funded by and debuted on NBC TV in the USA as part of Hallmark Hall of Fame. Followed by IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN TO A VET (1976) and a hugely popular TV series running for 90 episodes over 7 seasons from 1978-90 before resurfacing again as a remake in 2020.

Film Review (re-watch): STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI (2017)

Here's your full-length 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' trailer | EngadgetSTAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI (2017, USA) ***½
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
dist. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; pr co. Walt Disney Pictures / Lucasfilm / Ram Bergman Productions; d. Rian Johnson; w. Rian Johnson; exec pr. J.J. Abrams, Tom Karnowski, Jason D. McGatlin; pr. Ram Bergman, Kathleen Kennedy; ass pr. Jamie Christopher, Nour Dardari, Leopold Hughes, Nikos Karamigios; ph. Steve Yedlin (Colour. 70 mm (horizontal) (IMAX DMR blow-up) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema (also 3-D version). Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format), Dolby Vision. 2.39:1); m. John Williams; ed. Bob Ducsay; pd. Rick Heinrichs; ad. Todd Cherniawsky, Chris Lowe; set d. Richard Roberts; cos. Michael Kaplan; m/up. Peter King (makeup), Kristyan Mallett (prosthetics); sd. Bonnie Wild (DTS (DTS: X) | Dolby Surround 7.1 | Dolby Atmos | Dolby Digital | 12-Track Digital Sound (IMAX 12 track) | IMAX 6-Track); sfx. Chris Corbould, Branko Repalust; vfx. Hybride Technologies / Important Looking Pirates (ILPvfx) / Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) / Jellyfish Pictures / Mark Roberts Motion Control / Rodeo FX; rel. 9 December 2017 (USA), 12 December 2017 (UK); cert: 12; r/t. 152m.

cast: Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker / Dobbu Scay), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Andy Serkis (Snoke), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Laura Dern (Vice Admiral Holdo), Benicio Del Toro (DJ), Frank Oz (Yoda (voice)), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Amanda Lawrence (Commander D’Acy), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Adrian Edmondson (Captain Peavey).

Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past. An entertaining and action-packed addition to the saga, which revisits many of the themes explored earlier in the series and as such may seem overly familiar. It also suggests a new direction as the series moves toward its final instalment, which may upset die-hard fans. The basic chase plot is stretched a little thinly with some lazy plot progressions, but despite its over-length the film does not stand still for long and doesn’t outstay its welcome. Hamill and Fisher feature more heavily and there are some new twists along the way, but its mid-trilogy position inevitably leaves certain issues unresolved. The visual effects and location work are exemplary, and Johnson’s direction is energetic. The script and dialogue lack the wit of THE FORCE AWAKENS, substituting even more dynamic action instead. Also shot in 3-D.

AAN: Best Achievement in Visual Effects (Ben Morris, Michael Mulholland, Neal Scanlan, Chris Corbould); Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) (John Williams); Best Achievement in Sound Editing (Matthew Wood, Ren Klyce); Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (Michael Semanick, David Parker, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce)

Book Review – WRONG LIGHT (2018) by Matt Coyle

WRONG LIGHT (2018) ***½
by Matt Coyle
This paperback edition published by Oceanview Publishing, 2018, 338pp
© Matt Coyle, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-60809-329-8

Blurb: Naomi Hendrix’s sexy voice hovering over the radio waves isn’t the only thing haunting the Southern California nights. A demented soul is stalking Naomi, hiding in the shadows of the night, waiting for the right moment to snatch her and fulfill a twisted fantasy. When Naomi’s radio station hires PI Rick Cahill to protect Naomi and track down the stalker, he discovers that Naomi is hiding secrets about her past that could help unmask the man. However, before Rick can extract the truth from Naomi, he is thrust into a missing person’s case–an abduction he may have unwittingly caused. The investigating detective questions Rick’s motives for getting involved and pressures him to stop meddling. While Rick pursues Naomi’s stalker and battles the police, evil ricochets from his own past and embroils Rick in a race to find the truth about an old nemesis. Is settling the score worth losing everything?

Comment:  This is the fifth book in Matt Coyle’s Rick Cahill series, but it is the first that I have read. It is a dark noir-ish novel which gives Private detective Cahill two unconnected cases to juggle – an unusual, but not unique, approach in a first-person PI novel. Coyle actually juggles the two stories pretty well, blending the action and key characters without confusing the reader. The primary case, concerning a female DJ being stalked is the more traditional, whilst the secondary case – involving the Russian Mafia and a hold they have over Cahill – refers back to events from previous books and readers would perhaps benefit in approaching this series from the beginning. That said, there is enough background provided to ensure you can also approach the book as a standalone. Cahill is a flawed hero and his manipulation of the few friends he has leaves him as something of a loner. The novel moves at a cracking pace and remains engaging throughout with many twists and turns – some that can be foreseen others that shock. As such the book challenges the reader at every turn. This can be both a positive and a negative in that it feels at times that Coyle is trying to be too clever and by doing so the reader can occasionally anticipate his next twist because they know not to take things at face value. The two plots run at different paces. The stalker plot line is almost text book mystery right up until its shocking conclusion. The Russian Mafia subsidiary plot line mixes the mystery element of the nature of the Russian Mob’s operation, in which they embroil Cahill, with action thriller elements of many a big screen crime thriller. Taken separately both would make for a very readable book. Blended together they at times make for an overly frenetic narrative that stretches credulity – not in the nature of the situations but in the way in which the police and FBI deal with them and Cahill seemingly can operate for days without much sleep. All said and done, I really enjoyed the book despite its over-ambition and look forward to seeing where Coyle takes Cahill next.

Film Review – LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971)

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971, UK) **
Horror
dist. Anglo-EMI Film Distributors; pr co. Hammer Films; d. Jimmy Sangster; w. Tudor Gates (based on characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu); pr. Harry Fine, Michael Style; ph. David Muir (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1, 1.66:1 (Blu-Ray release)); m. Harry Robertson (as Harry Robinson); m sup. Philip Martell; s. “Strange Love” m/l. Harry Robertson (as Harry Robinson), Frank Godwin (performed by Tracy); ed. Spencer Reeve; ad. Don Mingaye; cos. Laura Nightingale; m/up. George Blackler, Pearl Tipaldi; sd. Terry Poulton, Ron Barron (Mono (RCA Sound System)); rel. 17 January 1971 (UK), 2 September 1971 (USA); cert: 18; r/t. 95m.

cast: Barbara Jefford (Countess Herritzen), Ralph Bates (Giles Barton), Suzanna Leigh (Janet Playfair), Yutte Stensgaard (Mircalla / Carmilla Karnstein), Michael Johnson (Richard Lestrange), Helen Christie (Miss Simpson), Mike Raven (Count Karnstein), Christopher Cunningham (Coachman), Harvey Hall (Inspector Heinrich), Michael Brennan (Landlord), Pippa Steel (Susan Pelley), Judy Matheson (Amanda McBride), Caryl Little (Isabel Courtney), David Healy (Raymond Pelley), Jonathan Cecil (Arthur Biggs), Erik Chitty (Professor Herz), Jack Melford (Bishop), Christopher Neame (Hans), Kirsten Lindholm (Peasant Girl), Luan Peters (Trudi).

This is the second in Hammer’s Karnstein trilogy following 1970’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. It is 1830 and the vampire Carmilla (Stensgaard) is re-incarnated by her heirs (Jefford and Raven). Stensgaard (who has cunningly changed her name to Mircalla) joins the finishing school for girls run by Christie, at which Bates is a schoolmaster who becomes smitten with her. So to does Johnson, as an author assigned to the school. When Stensgaard returns Johnson’s advances a conflict arises between her feelings and her thirst for blood. This is the weakest of the trilogy, flatly handled by Sangster – who generates little in the way of thrills and shocks, which are here substituted by a heightened eroticism. One scene where Stensgaard seduces Matheson is accompanied by an appalling pop song, which destroys any sense of threat. The script is poor, with little wit and a by-the-numbers approach to its plot, merely replaying themes already visited in the first film with little new to offer. We even descend into a cliched angry mob finale. The acting is adequate at best, although Leigh deserves some plaudits for adding a sense of dignity to her schoolteacher character, who becomes suspicious of Stensgaard. Peter Cushing was initially cast in the Bates role, but had to drop out due to his wife’s illness. Sangster too replaced Terence Fisher who was originally slated to direct. US version runs 91m. Followed by TWINS OF EVIL (1971).