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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Fear in the Night (1972)
(2017 Restored Blu-Ray & DVD Doubleplay)


Starring: Judy Geeson, Joan Collins and Peter Cushing
Distributor: StudioCanal
RRP: £TBC (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 30 October 2017

In this, one of a number of Hammer Films being re-released in Doubleplay editions to celebrate 60 years of Hammer Horror, a young woman who has suffered a nervous breakdown and has been undergoing psychological counselling meets and marries a man who has secured a live-in job at a remote boys school. Having been attacked by an intruder with a prosthetic arm at her previous home, she is far from stable, but when her new husband is regularly sent away on errands by the headmaster she is left to her own devices. Attacked again, she suspects the creepy but gentlemanly headmaster, but is he the real enemy...?

It turns out the school suffered a serious fire in the past and was closed. The headmaster bought the building and restored it to its former glory, and now carries on as if nothing happened – except there are no children. He has electrical switches which activate recordings of the children in lessons or in the dining hall. Just that idea is bizarre. Peter Cushing, however, plays the part with formal aplomb (he really was an outstanding actor). He only makes a handful of appearances here, but it’s enough to make his mark. In fact, I believe he only filmed for two or three days.

Joan Collins is suitably snooty as the headmaster’s wife, Ralph Bates is solid enough, and Judy Gleeson spends the whole thing looking stunned and confused – which works well as the fragile victim of the piece. The final moment of the film confirms this is just the right characterisation.

Fear in the Night from 1972 works really well as a suspense thriller rather than out-and-out horror. It is one of only a small number of Hammer movies with a then-contemporary rather than period setting. It is undoubtedly the Jimmy Sangster show, as the regular writer turned in the screenplay as well as both producing and directing. It was his final contribution. Check out his great autobiography Do You Want It Good Or Tuesday? He connects the scenes in this film using linking dialogue – even halfway through a sentence – and in one case with a kiss. This gives the false impression of a fast-moving plot. It’s a neat trick.

I first reviewed this movie in 2006 but, as it was part of The Ultimate Hammer Collection Box Set (over 20 films), space and time prevented more than two or three lines. So it’s definitely nice to get this opportunity to review this one in its own right. There’s a short documentary wherein Hammer historians talk about the movie. I’m sure there was a Jimmy Sangster commentary on the disc included with the Collection Box Set, but for some reason it’s not included here.


Ty Power

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