Paranoiac – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Back in 2016, Universal pleased us Hammer Horror fans with the 8-Film Collection set. Beggars could not be choosers in that time. So an incorrect aspect ratio, “good enough” picture quality and no extras had to just be accepted. In 2022, Scream Factory will have completed a full-on revamp of that entire set with Collector’s Editions of every single film. Significant improvements in every aspect have made these such wonderful releases and easy to double dip on and buy as individual titles. This year starts of the three remaining with the Oliver Reed starring Paranoiac. It includes a new transfer and some new interviews and commentary track. The release date is February 8th and you can pre-order it now using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review. Still to come are Nightmare in March and Night Creatures in April.



Nothing is quite what it seems in this riveting, complex tale of greed, dementia and deceit from Hammer Films, the experts in terror. Rescued from a suicide attempt by a man claiming to be her long-dead brother, a young heiress (Janette Scott, The Day Of The Triffids) finds a new reason to live. But her relatives have doubts. They think “Tony” (Alexander Davion) is an imposter who’s trying to get his hands on the family fortune. Everyone has their own secret reasons to suspect Tony, as well as their own designs on his vast inheritance – especially brother Simon (Oliver Reed, The Curse Of The Werewolf), a magnetic but devastatingly cruel wretch who’ll stop at nothing to thwart the supposed pretender.

Paranoiac is an interesting dive into the world of Psycho-sploitation from Hammer Films. It features one of the better and more juicy Oliver Reed performances as well as some interesting proto-slasher bits and the presentation of Hammer’s Gothic nature into something that takes place in the modern world. There’s a lot of things that feel like early reveals, but only to have things consistently continue to unravel and take turns that may or may not seem like they were coming for you.

Following the breakthrough of Psycho, there were some imitators. Paranoiac is probably one of the more high profile ones because its part of the Hammer vault, while others have been forgotten. There was a desire to explore and exploit on characters that would be like Norman Bates. With some kind of multiple personalities disorder or mental illness to distort reality and make them both and innocent and killer in the same vein.

This particular look flaunts Oliver Reed in the Norman Bates-y role and he really flourishes here. Portrayed mainly as a drunk, he’s both excellent at that and in his disturbed mental state having difficultly in the acceptance of both his brother’s death and his own hand in it. And in a bit of a reversal he has a (living) mother’s help to keep the façade going for him and encourage the denial. There’s also the introduction of a killer wearing a mask which isn’t the first time here, but its a big step in making that a “normal” in these kind of things and in some giallos of the era.

Hammer’s Paranoiac is a really fascinating look in something else going on that isn’t brought up in the film studies but is important to see how a film is birthed from another and how it adds to and continues an evolutions through a genre and many that would come after it. It contains some of Oliver Reed’s best work from the studio as well as a pretty chilling little mystery that’s fun to see unveil itself whether you’re guessing correctly or not. Definitely a curiosity not to be overlooked when talking things like Hammer Horror or looking at the importance of Psycho and its legacy.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scream Factory improves the transfer on Paranoiac in this Collector’s Edition with a new 2K scan from the interpositive. This new image is a bit crisper and finds more clarity and details running through a more textured frame. The saturation of the black/white/grays is more apparent. There might be room for even more improvement, but that’s not certain as it might be a thing to do with the film stock used for the film.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty strong and improved here. Spacing is more apparent and the pushback and scale is more impressive. Movement is smoother and confident with no distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks and deep and rich. They really help to shadow and accent a good many scenes. No real issues occur with information being lost in darkness and no crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a gray/white and find consistency with ease from opening to closing credits. Facial texture and detail come through pretty clean in the medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Paranoiac retains what is likely the same audio from the previous release. The mono track is plenty loud and really engaging regardless of the limitations of the format. The score comes through pretty strikingly and is balanced and woven in well with good audible vocals and solid effects foley work.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Paranoiac – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • with film historian Bruce Hallenbeck

Drink To Deception (HD, 14:48) – In this new interview, critic and historian Kim Newman gives a more colorful detailed account of the film as well as his analysis and anecdotes.

A Toast to Terror (HD, 25:23) – Historian/Author Jonathan Rigby gives his astute analysis of the film from many different thematic and social aspects for the film. He goes over gender roles both in front of and behind the camera and through other things Hammer was working on in relation to the time of Paranoiac and how it affected it.

The Making of PARANOIAC (HD, 27:57) – Wayne Kinsey guides through this detailed study on the film’s origins and production which features Jimmy Sangster, Don Mingaye, Alan Lavender, Pauline & Hugh Harlow and Oliver Reed via an archival audio recording to go along with many behind the scenes & productions stills and some behind the scenes video.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:35)

Still Gallery (HD, 5:56)


Paranoiac offers thrills in a less atmospheric but more mental type thriller. The Hammer film features a make-over with a nice new 2K scan for its presentation to go along with some lively audio. The new and old extras provided help to really bring a full sense of the production of the film, its players, the era which it released and its legacy in the whole canon of Hammer. This is definitely another upgrade from that Hammer set from Universal, but your upgrading will depend on whether you enjoy the film or not.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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