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Demons of the Mind (1972) Peter Sykes

Demons of the Mind (1972)
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Country: UK | Director: Peter Sykes
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: Widescreen 1.85:1 | Length: 89mn
Dvdrip H264 Mkv - 768x416 - 23.976fps - 1.53gb
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066982/

Includes Audio Commentary with Peter Sykes,
Christopher Wicking and Virginia Sothcott
(Second Audio Track)

A physician discovers that two children are being kept virtually imprisoned in their house by their father. He investigates, and discovers a web of sex, incest and satanic possession. 

This is an astonishing film, a success in every way, a truly thoughtful horror film. The story concerns an aristocrat who believes his family line is infested with bad blood. He had married a peasant woman to offset this, but has instead infected the peasantry as well. He has locked up his son and daughter, and is bleeding them, to stop the rot. Meanwhile, peasant women are being raped and murdered throughout his estate.

From such a scenario, ripe for exploitation, is weaved a remarkable series of themes and variations. The film's first image is of a horse and carriage rushing through a forest, a white hand groping outside, only to be pulled back. Like THE AVENGERS, the best Hammer films revealed the horrors and insanities lurking behind placid, heritage, British rural life. On the surface is a gorgeous idyll - a beautiful Big House, a forest, grassy rivers. Beneath is incest, madness, hysteria, paganism, murder.

The house, like most horror films, is a metaphor for the mind. It is literally a prison, but also a labyrinth, mirroring the maze created by the disjointed gazes of the occupants. There are some amazing long shots of the house's inside, haunting, vastly empty, tilted - a mind off balance. The family is no longer a site of continuity and order, but discontinuity, inbreeding, misery and chaos.

But the house also shares the literary association as a figure for the state, and the poisonous madness within affects the peasantry too. They partake in pagan rituals, follow mad, gibbering priests, who offer destruction, not redemption, and become a terrifying, cross-burning lynch mob, roaming the country.

Ironically, the film is set at the beginning of the century, and Freud's contemporary attempts to throw light on the darkness of the mind is alluded to, and compared to the descent into medieval dank of the film's characters. BARRY LYNDON shares many of this film's themes, and it's hard to believe Kubrick never saw it - both feature Michael Hordern and Patrick Magee.

The creation of an actual world mirroring a psychological world is superbly realised. The two levels co-exist, intertwine, and some of the film's most extraordinary and beautiful images are visualisations of Freudian symbals and ideas. Like many great horror films, this is a family saga, but a very mature one. Its refusal to demonise adds greatly to the helplessness of the terrors. Its 'closure' is as bleak as ever Hammer dared. A masterpiece.
 Demons of the Mind (1972) 



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