Demons of the Mind

They came to torture an agonised mind.

Horror Thriller
89 min     5.1     1972     United Kingdom

Overview

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.

Reviews

John Chard wrote:
There is a heritage of disorder in our blood. An unhinged Baron keeps his children as prisoners in the family mansion for fear they will inherit the family illness - insanity! It's one of Hammer Films' most divisive productions, some laud it as a Gothic horror with art house veneers, others say it's simply pretentious tripe! The truth is that it's a bold and ambitious picture, a tricky narrative of mental health, incest and brutal patriarch pressure, all cloaked in the Hammer traits so prevalent in their 70s productions. Cue blood and nudity, hammy acting, good acting, splendid costumes, vivid colour and a mansion setting of some distinction. Unfortunately the story remains too vague for too long, it never settles into a rhythm to unsettle the viewer, while the poor acting from the principals playing the family (Robert Hardy, Shane Briant and Gillian Hills) destracts from what is on paper a fascinating screenplay. There's something for every horror fan in here, even though it's not explicitly a horror film, so roll the dice and take your chance. I'll sit on the fence like a Swiss politician and rate it 5/10
Wuchak wrote:
_**Gothic Hammer with muddled story and unsympathetic characters**_ A Baron in 1835 (Robert Hardy) keeps his adult son & daughter locked-up and drugged because he thinks they're insane, like his dead wife. He hires a dubious doctor known for mesmerism (Patrick Magee) to assist him, along with his assistant (Kenneth J. Warren). Meanwhile there are murders in the local area and a priest meanders around babbling about the evils of the Baron and this or that, which incites the villagers. "Demons of the Mind" (1972) is an obscure Hammer film featuring many of the positives of Hammer horror, such as haunting Gothic atmosphere, serious characters/story, stunningly gorgeous women and a quality score. The character of Falkenberg (Magee) was patterned after Franz Mesmer, who theorized the existence of a natural energy transference that he called "animal magnetism,” sometimes later referred to as mesmerism. That’s all good, but the story is told in a confusing way and there are no characters to sympathize with, except maybe the Baron's daughter (the beautiful Gillian Hills) and the guy who comes to the castle to aid her (Paul Jones). Unfortunately, Elizabeth is too zoned-out to care about and the hero is a secondary character. As beautiful as Gillian Hills is (who’s a little reminiscent of Emily Browning), Virginia Wetherell outshines her as Inge. You might remember Virginia from “The Crimson Cult” (1968). In any case, she has a tasteful nude sequence for those who care. Deirdre Costello is also on hand as Magda. Another plus is the fanatical priest who rings true, but the character isn't given enough screen time or dimension. Although "Demons of the Mind" is a decent Gothic horror flick from Hammer, it’s pretty much a misfire despite the highlights. It's not as good as most of their vampire, Frankenstein or werewolf flicks. The problem isn’t just the befuddled storytelling and lack of sympathetic characters; it’s hard to relate to the topic of generational "insanity.” I put that in quotes because I don’t believe the son & daughter are truly insane, but rather that the father causes their condition through his misguided leadership and “treatments.” The film runs 1 hour, 25 minutes, and was shot in England as follows: Bolney, West Sussex (the Zorn manor), which is 20 miles due south of London; Black Park (the forest scenes), which is just west of London; and Elstree Studios, which is just northwest of London. GRADE: C

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