AVAILABLE ON DVD
RUNNING TIME: 74 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Arms dealer Fouracada arrives in England and soon attracts the attention of Dick Barton, who is captured but manages to escape. Learning that the population of an entire village has been wiped out, he suspects Fouracada and, with his companion Snowey, journeys to the village, which is entirely deserted except for another agent and a mysterious foreign woman. Dick then hears a wailing sound in the middle of the night….
Hammer were definitely right about this being the best out of the three Dick Barton films. While there are a few things which are evidence of its rushed production, it’s considerably better than the other two movies, and one almost wonders why. They were all made as quota quickies, rush jobs so that Britain was making a certain percentage of films. Dick Barton Strikes Back wastes no time in getting into the action immediately, and, while you shouldn’t expect much in the way of big set pieces, it moves quite quickly and certainly holds the interest with an intriguing plot. The lengthy sequence taking place in the deserted village has a surprisingly dark, moody atmosphere about it, similar to that in Quatermass 2 and Village Of The Damned, and it’s genuinely intriguing as to what on earth is going on, after which it speeds up to finish with a strong climax atop Blackpool Tower. There’s a rather good fight in a lift, and our hero staggering bloodily about shot in the arm but still clambering all over the tower to stop the main villain destroying Blackpool is amazingly tense.
The baddies here have a deadly sonic beam which can wipe out whole towns. The chief villain, whom Sebastian Cabot gives one of the greatest of all villainous laughs, seems to control it the beam from his suitcase and it looks like he’s using a laptop! Of course we don’t see the dehydrated brains or even the masses of dead bodies, while there are a few plot holes and one subplot where people seem to be controlled by the bad guys which doesn’t lead anywhere and seems just thrown in. The humour is relegated to Snowey constantly wanting a pint, but this works just fine. And it’s good to know that even back then villains were refusing to shoot the hero when he was in their grasp, preferring to have him killed off in a more creative way from which he can then escape. Jean Lodge makes an impression as Tina, who may or may not be working for the bad guys, though there’s no femme fatale stuff or even romantic tension here. Both heroes and villains do act with amazing stupidity at times, so much so that it’s a wonder they ever get anything done. Still, this is a solid ‘B’ thriller that is good fun from beginning to end and sometimes even grips. While I would say that only one of the Dick Barton films is actually any good, they’re all interesting to watch for the obvious influence they had on later TV series like Danger Man and The Avengers, as well as of course the great 007.