CASH ON DEMAND (1961) Movie Review – The Harrowing House of Hammer

Well, well. That’s something I didn’t think I’d ever see.

As fans will likely know, Hammer Films shaped their infamous legacy by cranking out a wide array of low-budget films of varying genres. There were crime dramas, comedies, swashbuckling adventure stories, and of course, the horror films that proved to be the company’s claim to prominence.

But who would’ve ever guessed that there would be a Hammer Christmas movie?

Believe it or not, one does exist in Cash on Demand – a loose and selective take on the classic A Christmas Carol story with Peter Cushing starring as the film’s proverbial Ebenezer Scrooge.

Instead of the three ghosts visiting our main character however, Cash on Demand summons a charismatic thief in the shape of Andre Morell who comes to rob Cushing’s bank and raise an unsettling mirror that unravels his strict, tightly-woven, and emotionless way of life.

To this point, the movie possesses a brilliantly powerful cast with Cushing and Morell stealing the show. Cushing is both ideally stuffy and neurotic when the central conflict comes into play with a character portrayal that often harkens back to his previous role as Winston Smith in the BBC teleplay of 1984. Fittingly, Morell walks a fine line that hovers between menace and enigmatic charm – a trait that reminds one of the crime thrillers of Hitchcock.

And this is a quality that runs through the whole of Cash on Demand. With a great deal of suspense, solid writing, and wonderful acting, it is certainly one of the best-made Hammer flicks one could find. With that in mind, it’s somewhat surprising that not many people are aware of it.

Of course, the Hammer movies that modern audiences will be more likely to look back on will be their legendary run of horror tales, and this is obviously a well-deserved namesake.

However, while most of these pictures focus on scares, effects, and gothic landscapes, Cash on Demand is a rare specimen that plays with our emotions.

Sure, the ending might feel a bit convenient in how the plot is ultimately tied up with a nice bow of a happy ending, but, lest we forget, it is a Christmas movie, so it is a move that feels deserved.

For fans of Hammer Horror that also have a love for suspenseful crime thrillers and movies with a bit of heart, you might be surprised with this unexpected holiday flick.

~ Stephen

Vía Letterboxd – The Paper Masque blog