22 January 2007 | The_Void
Late, but top quality Hammer suspense thriller!
This Hammer film has remained in the wilderness for years, but thanks to Optimum Releasing, it now has its long awaited DVD release. The back of the box proclaims this film to be the last of Hammer Horror's suspense films, and one of the best - and both of those statements are true! Many of the suspense films that Hammer produced are among the best that the studio had to offer - Taste of Fear and Paranoiac being among the finest of them. This film isn't your usual Hammer film or your usual Hammer suspense film and plays out a lot like a Hammer version of Italy's popular Giallo sub-genre. Hammer Horror would go on to make a lot of films that took influence from the more lurid Eurohorror imports in the seventies, and while this shift in focus didn't always serve them well - it certainly does here! The plot focuses on a boy's school. Peggy Heller is recovering from a nervous breakdown, and she goes to stay at the school with her teacher husband Robert. Upon arrival, she discovers that the school is run by headmaster Michael Carmichael, and she soon becomes the victim of murderous attacks by a one-armed man. However, nobody believes her...
It has to be said that the plot runs rather slowly for the first hour, with the hapless victim being attacked a couple of times and facing disbelief from both her husband and the wife of the headmaster. It's always interesting, however, and this slow burning first half soon gives way to a more furious final third, where revelations about the school and its headmaster become the forefront of the story and give way to a delicious double twist. The film features performances from three big stars of British horror - the sinister Ralph Bates is perfect as the husband, while the beautiful and deadly Joan Collins provides an extra dimension and things are topped off in style courtesy of a great performance from Hammer's main man Peter Cushing. Judy Geeson holds her own in the lead role also, and the film certainly doesn't come a cropper on the acting front. It has to be said that the final twist is somewhat predictable considering the film's genre, but it's carried off well and the way that the tale concludes is both clever and exciting. Overall, Fear in the Night might not have gained the same amount of praise as Hammer's more popular offerings - but it's a damn good film and I'm glad I saw it!