Fear in the Night Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by Studiocanal
Directed by Jimmy Sangster
Written by Jimmy Sangster, Michael Syson
1972, 94 minutes, Rated 12 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 30th October 2017
Judy Geeson as Peggy Heller
Joan Collins as Molly Carmichael
Ralph Bates as Robert Heller
Peter Cushing as Michael Carmichael
James Cossins as The Doctor
Gilian Lind as Mrs. Beamish
Relocating to a rural boarding school with her husband, troubled Peggy finds her woes increased when she is repeatedly attacked by an unseen, black-gloved assailant who nobody else believes exists. Female hysteria, eh? Choking her out in the big city, then following her out into the countryside to do the same again, this mysterious man sets into motion a very English, very Hammer version of a Giallo movie.
Dracula, Frankenstein and the usual suspects take the day off for this relatively unconventional (or at least less-remembered) 70s Hammer effort, set in a (then) modern era and forgoing much of the gore and sleaze that Hammer was beginning to thrive upon in their newer productions. This often resembles an episode of the television series Hammer House of Horror more than it does some of the movies fans might be accustomed to. Still, its constant torment of poor Peggy is very Hammer, and the iconic Peter Cushing is there too, as the sinister one-armed schoolmaster of the piece. Is it a spoiler to say that Cushing has rarely (if ever) been scarier? It's right there on the cover, after all.
What might be considered by some as an atypical Hammer movie makes for a more familiar European-style psycho-killer thriller, complete with black leather gloves and an atmosphere of confusion and uncertainty. The Female Hysteria card is played up as high as it will go too, with Judy Geeson making quite the impression as the frequently distressed damsel of the piece. Modern audiences brought up on years of slasher movies in which no-one believes the Final Girl might not be so impressed by the now-hackneyed story, but the film's stylishness makes it an enjoyable curio. Those after their 70s kicks will also enjoy Joan Collins popping up as Cushing's on-screen wife, completing one of the most unusual couplings of vintage Hammer cinema.
Fear in the Night is the third and final film for Hammer director Jimmy Sangster, and perhaps his finest. One expects stylishness from this era's Hammer, and Sangster doesn't disappoint – a terrified Geeson grabbed from behind with a gloved hand over her mouth going down in history as an image any self-respecting horror scholar will instantly recognise. The resultant movie is one of the weirder films of an already experimental time for the studio, bolstered by great performances and a fun twist. Some may be put off by the story not having aged so well, but fans of minor cult classics and vintage curiosities will lap up its kooky charms.
Video and Audio:
This brand new transfer –the film making its Blu-ray debut – loses none of that Jimmy Sangster style, and Cushing's country estate pops from the screen. It sounds lovely and clear too, the suspenseful score adding to a carefully cultivated atmosphere of suspense and dread.
Beyond the film's trailer, the only extra feature included on the disc is the fairly lengthy, illuminating documentary End of Term: Inside Fear in the Night. Providing historical context, analysis and fun behind-the-scenes tidbits, it's charmingly appreciative and appreciated.