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DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! ($25) is one in the series of gothic horror melodramas starring "over the hill" leading ladies, which came into vogue during mid-1960s, with such films as WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE and HUSH… HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE. However, what makes this particular outing unique is the fact that DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! was produced by in England by Hammer and features a slightly tongue-in-cheek screenplay by Richard Matheson (who was responsible for some of the best AIP horror outings). The screenplay has a definite cat and mouse psychological quality, plus Matheson has littered it with enough excesses that make it virtually impossible for audiences to take the proceedings too seriously.

DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! stars a wonderfully over-the-top Tallulah Bankhead as Mrs. Trefoile, who receives a visit from her deceased son’s former fiancée Pat Carroll (Stefanie Powers). Upon her arrival in Mrs. Trefoile’s home, Pat is at first bemused by her hostesses "holier than thou" attitude, but quickly becomes horrified by the elderly woman’s devotion to her departed son and religious fanaticism, which has left her mentally unhinged. Soon Pat finds herself a prisoner in Mrs. Trefoile’s home and fighting for her life against the madwoman’s desire to purify her, so she can be reunited with her virginal son in the afterlife. The cast of DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! also includes Peter Vaughan, Maurice Kaufmann, Yootha Joyce and Donald Sutherland, who definitely isn’t in one of his more memorable roles.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Considering the film’s age, and the fact DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! has not undergone any form of extensive restoration, the transfer looks pretty terrific. The image is fairly sharp and the level of detail is good for a modestly budgeted film from 1965. Colors generally offer nice saturation; although there are a few spots that do appear a bit drab. There are no signs of chroma noise or smearing, although flesh tones tend to have the uniformity best associated with a makeup man’s kit. Blacks appear reasonably accurate and shadow detail is decent during the day for night sequences. The film element used for the transfer does exhibit a few blemishes, but nothing too bothersome. Digital compression artifacts tend to be very well camouflaged.

DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! comes with a respectable sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. As one has to expect from nearly forty-year-old recordings, the fidelity isn’t particularly outstanding. The musical score has a playful quality that makes it worth amplifying, but it sounds a bit reedy, without any significant top or bottom end. Sound effects are a bit hollow sounding, especially gunshots, which lack the kind of oomph that make them particularly intimidating. Dialogue is always intelligible and Ms. Bankhead’s unmistakable voice never loses any of its distinct throaty character. No other language tracks are encoded onto the DVD, although English subtitles are provided. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as bonus trailers for the William Castle films HOMICIDAL and MR. SARDONICUS, plus a TV spot for STRAIT-JACKET.

DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! is a gothic horror melodrama with a definite campy bent, thanks to Tallulah Bankhead’s over-the-top portrayal. Columbia has done a good job with the DVD, offering a good-looking presentation that is certain to keep fans happy. Following on the heels of DIE! DIE! MY DARLING!, let’s hope that Columbia will continue to release other Hammer titles in their catalog starting with THE GORGON.



Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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