Four Sided Triangle (1953)

Posted: November 21, 2022 in Uncategorized

It’s been on my shelf for years and years, but I finally got around to watching the hyphen-free Four Sided Triangle, Hammer’s first full-on plunge into SF (not their first horror film — that was 1935’s Mystery of the Mary Celeste). It’s an interesting film, with many embryonic elements that would achieve their full flowering in later films. It’s also much less lurid than the poster would suggest.

As with the Frankenstein films, we have a lab, not in a Gothic castle, but in rather more ordinary surroundings, such an attic, a basement, or, as in this case, a barn.

And then there’s the horror of mad science tampering with identity. The plot has our obsessed scientist duplicating the woman he loves in the hopes that this version will love him back, while completely ignoring the fact that he is duplicating her history, memories and emotions along with her body, with tragic results. This anticipates the themes to be explored in the likes of Frankenstein Created Woman and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.

Meanwhile, Barbara Payton, in one of two films she would star in for Hammer, does very well in a somewhat underwritten dual role. She conveys the suicidal agony of the duplicate with hearbreaking poignancy, and the Mid-Atlantic accent she adopts works well in suggesting a character whose upbringing has been split between England and the US.

The overemphasis on the lab scenes (which really do go on and on) unfortunately results in the relationship tragedy being underdeveloped, with Payton in particular barely being given the chance to show what she can do, but as a first draft of what was shortly to come, this remains intriguing.


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