DEMONS OF THE MIND is, bluntly, a madcap movie from Hammer Film Productions. This 1972 outing is directed by Peter Sykes, with a screenplay by Christopher Wicking. It is sometimes a rebellious tale of psychological profundity and inner sanctum horror, but it is also a hare-brained piece of work beset by breath-taking accents and thick overacting. Stringing the plot together, such as it is, remains an exercise in futility.
Nevertheless, the tale begins and ends with Baron Zorn (Robert Hardy). He’s living with his two adult children. His daughter is Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) and she keeps running off, only to be brought back to the manor and drugged. His son is Emil (Shane Briant), who remains at the house but trudges around in a daze. Baron Zorn is infatuated with the idea that something is wrong with the blood of his line, so he calls Dr. Falkenberg (Patrick Magee). Also, people keep getting murdered in the forest.
When the film begins, Elizabeth is returned home after yet another jaunt and Baron Zorn is overheard reading Psalm 38. The passage finds David contending with God’s fury, so its suitability in DEMONS OF THE MIND is compelling. Baron Zorn is bathed in guilt and he is as obsessed with blood purity as certain modern polo shirt fanatics, which puts him in a rather unsteady mental state. What’s more, he buries the odd body in the water.
How the elements come together is the weakness of DEMONS OF THE MIND, but it also sets up the ornate and nutty conclusion. For all its talk about blood, virginity, incest, impotence, and suicide, Sykes’ turn for the worst involves some hypnosis and an ill-advised game of dress-up. There’s an angry mob to head things off at the pass, too. Hammer kind of recovers this endeavour with its commitment to mania and Arthur Grant’s lush lensing, but there really is no soundness in the flesh. At all.