1958 would prove to be an eventful year for Hammer Film Productions. Having hit the early half of the year with the iconic Dracula aka The Horror of Dracula starring Christopher Lee in the titular role, and then releasing the sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein, equally projecting their franchise with Peter Cushing returning as Baron Frankenstein having escaped the guillotine in The Revenge of Frankenstein. To round out their trilogy of cinematic releases, Hammer would work with Columbia Pictures to distribute the feature as part of a double bill contract with wartime feature The Camp On Blood Island.
The Snorkel plays out like an Alfred Hitchcock feature with its elaborate murder and macabre dealings by the murderer himself, twisting and turning to achieve his goal in financial gain. There is an element of gaslighting at play too as Paul Decker (Peter Van Eyck) who is masterful in his manipulation, wields his power over his step-daughter Candy (Mandy Miller). Candy continuously questions Paul, convinced that he is responsible for the death of her mother. The issue is that all the evidence points to suicide, not homicide.
The writing by Hammer staple Jimmy Sangster and Paul Myers from a story by Anthony Dawson (Dial M For Murder – another Hitchcock connection) is cleverly played out for melodramatic purposes but lacks in dialogue in places.
It has some choice moments and hesitantly dangles the idea of a questionably dark ending before tying up loose ends. It also had a higher budget than Hammer had dealt with but this was primarily due to shooting on location in an Italian villa. This actually plays in the films favour and grounds the narrative.
The Snorkel has been a little forgotten over the years, masked by the Gothic features that Hammer released at the time, but warrants further attention as it’s a fun little tale of murder and suspense.
– Saul Muerte