Together, They Head… – Straight On till Morning (1972)

Straight On till Morning borrows its name from Peter Pan, but unlike that family-friendly film and stage play, this movie is probably as far away from that description as can be. This fairly disturbing thriller/horror from Hammer Studios is a very strange beast when you compare it to all of their other output during the time and there are moments when you can hardly believe that the studio really had anything to do with it. It is not the greatest film that Hammer has ever had a hand in making as there are some definite faults, but if you let the film take you along for the ride, it manages to end up being a picture that sticks with you for a bit as the ending is so disconcerting.

straight_on_till_morning4Starring Shane Briant as the evildoer of the film, a man who would go on to be featured in a number of movies by the studio, he is a very unassuming man, not a person who you would expect to be a killer whatsoever and yet he is and his charm and good looks make him perfectly suited to be so. He is polite and women love him, really love him and he might be fine with it if they did not try to look beautiful for him. Whatever happened to him as a child has made him hate beauty in all its forms and it drives him mad, mad enough to kill. It is with good fortune then that Brenda arrives in his life for she is as plain as can be. Of course, the idyllic life the two think they will have with each other does not last for very long.

The film is as much about Brenda as it is about Briant’s character Peter, both needing something from the world and being unable to find it and both for different reasons. The fact that they end up together is a bit of a miracle, yet sometimes things are just meant to be. Brenda is single and wants a baby and yet no man will have her, more than likely due to her unattractive appearance and annoying personality. straight_on_till_morning3Briant is the opposite, he is what everyone wants in a mate and yet the man has some deeply-rooted problems that he is unable to overcome. When he meets her and talks with her, he discovers that she might be the cure for what ails him and vice versa. It is here that the suspense starts to slowly build as it can only be a matter of time before the bomb that Peter is, explodes.

The horror in the film builds up slowly, the tension increasing after each kill perpetrated by Peter. He tries to be a good guy, but it is almost impossible and though you know what is coming, the film still manages to surprise you albeit, in a slightly different manner when that moment arrives. The most dreadful part of the film is when Peter kills the dog. It was sad and disgusting in many ways and that is when you really start to hate his character. The main problem with the film is the pace. Though it is only ninety-odd minutes, it takes forever to get through them as so little happens in this film. The performances from Rita Tushingham and Briant are good and they do keep you captivated like a train wreck waiting to happen, but thirty minutes could have been cut from the movie and it still would have worked just fine.

Out of Hammer’s many films, Straight On till Morning is a definite curiosity, a movie that is unlike the other horrors and thrillers they had previously released. It is worth watching for that simple fact, but it is not a film you would ever want to see twice for even though it is disturbing in some respects, against other films of its ilk, it is a little underwhelming.

3 out of 5
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