Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)
Review by Jude Felton
When you think of the film output of Hammer studios, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Dracula. Or, more specifically, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and gory, sexually charged gothic horror, and that would be quite reasonable. However, over the years the studio made many differing styles of horror, or thriller, flicks. Now, thanks to Sony Pictures Choice Collection, which is their manufacturing on demand imprint, you can now get your grubby little mitts on this little gem.
Die! Die! My Darling! was also known as Fanatic, for good reason, and is a quaint little movie set in rural England. It follows Patricia (a sexy young Stephanie Powers) as a young woman who visits the mother of her deceased former boyfriend. It’s a visit that starts off okay, but soon the mother, Mrs. Trefoile (Tallulah Bankhead) shows off her religious fanaticism, as well as her detachment issues from her son.
The long and short of it is that Patricia gets taken prisoner by the mad-as-hell Mrs. Trefoile, and does her best to escape; a feat made incredibly difficult by Mrs. Trefoile’s staff and her penchant for firearms.
It’s a simple tale, but one that is told incredibly well, with some great lead, and supporting, roles. The great Donald Sutherland turns up as Joseph, the gardener, and Peter Vaughn is wonderful as the sleazy Harry. However, the real star of the show is Tallulah Bankhead, in just about her last starring film role, as the demented Mrs. Trefoile. She is quite wonderful, and carries off the performance with great aplomb. Stephanie Powers does her best opposite her, but quite frankly it is a losing battle, and that’s not to say that Powers gives a poor performance; she is just overshadowed.
If Die! Die! My Darling! was made in todays’ age, it would no doubt feature copious amounts of graphic gore, and end up being a shadow of this film. It is the script and performances that elevate this film, a film that veers between pitch-black thriller and a camp English oddity. The balance, however, is incredibly good, with director Silvio Narizzano seemingly being well aware of the tone of the material he is directing.
Truthfully, it’s not often one gets to see films like this; certainly not ones this obscure, so it was a really pleasant treat to be able to sit down and soak it all in. The English scenery and village life that was portrayed was wonderful, and something that I am sure Edgar Wright had in mind when making Hot Fuzz.
Due to Die! Die! My Darling! being a manufactured on demand title there are no extras. However, the front cover does feature the terrifically lurid and eye-catching original artwork, and quite honestly the film itself is more than enough reason to add this wonderful slice of old school charm.
Die! Die! My Darling is available now, and can be purchased Amazon, TCM.com and Warner Archives.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s (SPHE) manufacture-on-demand service “Sony Pictures Choice Collection” features never-before-released on DVD titles from more than 75 years of the Columbia Pictures film library.