Greeted as something of a misfire upon its original release, Hammer’s The Anniversary has ripened in the vaults into a volatile cocktail of high style, overwrought melodrama and obsidian comedy.
Based on a successful play by Bill MacIlwraith, it’s a nearly perfect evening’s divertissement for these more savage times. The indomitable Bette Davis stars as Mrs. Taggart, the one-eyed, acid-tongued matriarch of a family of sons in the construction business, none of whom has learned anything from their parents about building a solid foundation, literal or metaphorical. Yet they all come to honour her on the occasion of what would have been her 40th wedding anniversary.
Even if the siblings can survive the festivities unscathed, does the biggest mother of them all have a shocking final surprise for everyone? Christian Roberts and Sheila Hancock co-star in this deranged black comedy written and produced by Jimmy Sangster and directed by Roy Ward Baker (Don’t Bother to Knock, a Night to Remember) that Bette Davis fans still call one of her most outrageous performances ever!