FRIGHTMARE – The Dungeon Review!
Look at that fun cover! It was practically screaming at me to rent it. I quite enjoyed Pete Walker’s ‘House of Whipcord’ so picking up ‘Frightmare’ was an easy decision.
After committing a series of horrific murders and engaging in cannibalism, a woman is committed to a mental hospital. Fifteen years later she is released into the care of her husband, who was also briefly institutionalized as an accessory to her crimes. The couple move to a home in the country to start a new life. It’s not long before hubby suspects his wife may have fallen into her old habits.
I could have easily watched an entire film with just the couple. Sheila Keith is absolutely fascinating as the cannibalistic wife, Dorothy Yates. Keith goes back and forth between fragile and confused to completely deranged. When I use the word fragile, I am specifically speaking of her state of mind. The woman’s appearance is actually pretty intimidating. Rupert Davies was also excellent as the manic husband, Edmund Yates. Davies gives a real hand-wringing performance as the man who loves but fears his wife. I just can’t conceive these two actually fornicating, but apparently they did at least once. They have two children, Debbie and Jackie. Debbie is the result of their union and Jackie is Edmund’s child from a previous marriage. Jackie has been charged with the care of her fifteen year old sister Debbie. She has been making late-night visits to deliver a special package to her parents, whose identity and whereabouts she has kept from her sister. Jackie has just started dating psychiatrist Graham, whom she met at a friend’s dinner party. He involves himself in the sisters relationship much to Jackie’s chagrin. Debbie is a frustrated, confrontational fifteen year old with a tendency towards violence. She is dating a guy who thinks he is a real badass, but Debbie gives him a lesson in what badass really is.
The addition of the daughters works quite well. It adds a disturbing angle to the plot. The story moves well, flowing in and out through the plotlines of the mother and father and the two sisters. Occasionally intersecting, until it comes to its brilliantly nasty conclusion. An ending well worth sticking around for. The mood is suitably dreary and the farmhouse where the parents reside is the epitome of bleak. The perfect setting for late night visits to deliver mysterious packages or having your tarot cards read. If Dorothy Yates wants to read your tarot cards, just say no and walk away. The gore factor is fairly low, but it is a lot spicier than other British films I’ve seen from the early 70’s. Performances by the other cast members are all pretty decent; particularly notable is Kim Butcher who plays the younger sister Debbie. But Keith and Davies really steal the show. They really do a hell of a job and they have a strong story to back them up. My only real complaint is that I would have liked to have seen a lot more of Dorothy and Edmund Yates and less of the Jackie and Graham characters. I loved ‘Frightmare’ and I will definitely be checking out more Pete Walker films! Highest of recommendations!
Dungeon Rating: 5/5
Directed By: Pete Walker
Starring: Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax, Paul Greenwood, Kim Butcher, Fiona Curzon, Jon Yule, Trisha Mortimer