The Man Who Haunted Himself – UK, 1970

‘Stalked by fear and terror… day and night!’

The Man Who Haunted Himself is a 1970 British horror thriller film written and directed by Basil Dearden (Dead of Night; The Halfway House) from a screenplay co-written with producer Michael Relph and [uncredited] Bryan Forbes (The Stepford Wives).

The film was based on the 1957 novel The Strange Case of Mr. Pelham by Anthony Armstrong, initially written as a 1955 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It stars Roger Moore (who cited as his favourite of his own films), Hildegarde Neil and Alastair Mackenzie.

Whilst driving his Rover P5B, uptight City of London worker Harold Pelham appears to become possessed and has a serious high-speed accident.

On the operating table, he briefly suffers clinical death, after which there appear to be two heartbeats on the monitor. When he awakes, Pelham finds his life has been turned upside-down; in his job as a director of a marine technology company he learns that he now supports a merger that he once opposed, and that he apparently is having an affair.

Friends, colleagues and acquaintances claim to have seen him in places where he has never been, and Pelham starts being followed by a mysterious silver car: a Lamborghini Islero. Does Pelham have a doppelgänger or is he actually going insane?

Buy Blu-ray + DVD: Amazon.co.uk

Reviews:

” …though perhaps somewhat middle-of-the-road compared to other British horrors of the time such as The Wicker Man or Don’t Look Now, it had an unforgettable power. It is very skillfully directed by Basil Dearden […] The cinematography is mostly workmanlike, but occasional inspired. The editing, in key sequences, is outstanding. Michael J. Lewis’ score is compelling, the jaunty main theme becoming a haunting element in the narrative itself.” Gary Dalkin, To the Last Word

“It’s an “A” certificate film, though, so don’t be expecting Hammer or Amicus style horror. This is more akin to a big budget version of an episode of Brian Clemen’s Thriller or Tales of the Unexpected, which in no way is meant as a negative. As a macabre and ironic footnote, director Dearden died in a car accident not too long after the film’s release.” The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

” …somewhat tediously plotted, but it still manages to remain an interesting and well-made swan song from Dearden. For Roger Moore (who was Ian Fleming’s ideal James Bond), it’s a very atypical role, but he does an excellent job and it’s one of his finest hours in terms of acting. Hammer fans will recognize a lot of familiar character actors in smaller roles…” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

“The manner of his realization depends largely upon the hero’s personality, and since he is a man of regular, dull habits, the realization follows a regular, dull process—which is finally the shape of the movie. Any number of directors might have found in this a logical development of terror, but Dearden has merely found in it a poorly developed logic, and nothing even partly interesting happens to enliven its progress.” Roger Greenspun, The New York Times, September 4, 1971

Disc releases:

The film was released on DVD format in 2005 with a PG rating. The DVD includes special features including a commentary by Roger Moore and Bryan Forbes.

A new HD restoration from the original film elements was released in a dual-format package on 24 June 2013 by Network Distributing. The Blu-Ray disc is in 16:9 aspect ratio. Special features include – 34 minute music suite of Michael J. Lewis’s original score; a commentary track recorded in 2005, featuring Roger Moore and Bryan Forbes; the original theatrical trailer; four image galleries, including storyboards; and promotional material in PDF format.

Cast and characters:

  • Roger Moore as Harold Pelham
  • Hildegarde Neil as Eve Pelham
  • Alastair Mackenzie as Michael Pelham
  • Hugh Mackenzie as James Pelham
  • Kevork Malikyan as Luigi
  • Thorley Walters as Frank Bellamy
  • Anton Rodgers as Tony Alexander
  • Olga Georges-Picot as Julie Anderson
  • Freddie Jones as Dr. Harris, a psychiatrist
  • John Welsh as Sir Charles Freeman
  • Edward Chapman as Barton
  • Laurence Hardy as Mason
  • Charles Lloyd-Pack as Jameson
  • Gerald Sim as Morrison
  • Ruth Trouncer as Miss Bird, Pelham’s secretary
  • Aubrey Richards as Research Scientist
  • Anthony Nicholls as Sir Arthur Richardson
  • John Carson as Ashton

Wikipedia | IMDb | Image credits: The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

Posted in tribute to the late Roger Moore.

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