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"Judy Geeson ("TO SIR, WITH LOVE") is a newly married young woman who keeps getting attacked by a one-armed man and nobody believes her, probably because she just had a nervous breakdown. She and her hubby (RALPH BATES) move into a cottage at the country school where he is a teacher and more attacks occur. This is a well cast, well writen thriller and one of Hammer's better film's of the 70's. Geeson is very good as the jumpy heroine as is Peter Cushing as the odd headmaster of the school. Joan Collins (pregnant at the time) is also good as Cushing's wife in a small role. I liked the creepy atmosphere of the empty "school" and found the story and it's surprise ending very satisfying. The DVD is the usual fine disc I've come to expect from ANCHOR BAY. The anamorphic widescreen picture is crystal clear and the sound is very pleasing. A trailer, audio commentary with writer/producer/director Jimmy Sangster and liner notes are the extra's. If your looking for a fine, old-fashioned thriller, this is it. Highly recommended! Enjoy! -George Bauch."
Last Hammer thriller from writer/director Jimmy Sangster
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 06/02/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hammer referred to them as "mini-Hitchcock's". Fear in the Night is the last in a series of fine thrillers Hammer made during their long successful run. Director/writer Jimmy Sangster (screenwriter on Horror of Dracula, Curse and Revenge of Frankenstein among many others)creates a fine atmospheric thriller.The story centers around a young woman (Judi Geeson) who has recently had a nervous break down and a one armed man that may or may not be still stalking her. Her husband (Ralph Bates) is given a post at a new boy's school. The stalkings continue and she suspects at one point that the headmaster (nicely played by Peter Cushing in a glorified cameo)may have something to do with all that's going on. Joan Collins also appears as the flirty headmaster's wife.Adapted from a script that Sangster had sold to Universal years before, Fear in the Night has been seldom seen since its initial release in 1972. While it isn't the best thriller produced by Hammer, it recaptures some of the studio's more atmospheric productions from the early to mid-60's. The cinematography is evocative and helps create both the mood and tension of the piece. While Hammer puttered on for a number of years after Fear in the Night was produced, it was truly the last strong production from the studio. When it was released it was paired with another thriller Straight On Till Morning and the double bill failed to find an audience. Shortly after its release, Jimmy Sangster and Hammer severed their long partnership. It's a pity as Fear is an intelligent suspense thriller the type that Hollywood has forgotten how to produce. The DVD transfer is crisp althought I found the colors to be a little washed out. Given the stock used and the time when the film was produced, it's not that much of a surprise. Still, the print is clean and in almost prisitine condition all things considered. The DVD also has a running commentary by writer/director Jimmy Sangster that is most enlightening. He provides both the context within which the film was produced at Hammer and a good overview as to why it may have failed to find an audience. Given that it came out around the same time as Hitch's brutal Frenzy, it probably suffered in comparison."
Good cast given little to do.
Birthe Jrgensen | Odense, Denmark | 08/12/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of those early 70's thrillers, you always think could've been just a little bit better. The dialogue is dull and repetitive, but there are some good things, too. -A nice eerie and spooky tension, so typical for its day. (Something completely lacking in modern-day thrillers; more interested in entertaining their audience with action as stand-in for atmosphere.) The cast is another plus. Now, a movie featuring Peter Cushing, Ralph Bates and Judy Geeson can't be all that bad. -And it isn't, but one still can't help thinking, that a tiny bit more action would've been welcome in this case. The cast just isn't given much to do, especially the brilliant Bates. -No wonder he wanted out of the genre, making this his last film for "Hammer". Cushing has more of a cameo, but Geeson is superb as the wife in danger. All in all, an o.k. try, but..."
Wayne Klein | 01/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Overall I would rate this as a very good film. It's filled with a lot of tension and suspense and you expect things to jump out at every corner. The review of this film at the top gaves away the whole story so whatever you do, don't read it! I have read some negative reviews of this film from people who say that it's very slow moving, but that just adds to the suspense. And what Hammer film isn't slow moving?? Check it out for yourself. I was pleasantley surprised."
Later Hammer Thriller With Sterling Cast And Good Story
Simon Davis | 11/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've long wanted to see this little thriller which was produced in the "twilight" period of Hammer Productions highly successful run with horror and mystery tales. While not the greatest of that famous studios efforts it nevertheless is an intriguing tale that on first viewing does keep you guessing with it's surprise twists and great atmosphere. Written and directed by Hammer's Jimmy Sangster, he is none to flattering of it in his interesting book "Inside Hammer" however I feel this film is long due for a reappraisal.
Blessed with the usual Hammer Studios trademarks of a fine cast and great atmosphere "Fear in the Night", makes enjoyable viewing for thriller watchers without it ever creating "edge of the seat" suspense. In the early seventies Ralph Bates was being touted as the "new Christopher Lee" by Hammer Studios and here he has a good showcase for his excellent acting talents. The story is set in a mysterious school for boys hidden away in the English Countryside. But like so much else in this film as the story unfolds the school is not what it first seems to be. The opening shot of the school grounds with the boy's choir singing in the backgound with the camera panning onto a body hanging from a tree gives you some idea of the "mixed signals" this story gives off. "Fear in the Night", relates the story of Peggy Heller (Judy Geeson), a girl who has suffered a nervous breakdown but has recently married and plans to join her school teacher husband Robert (Ralph Bates) at his new teaching appointment at a boys school. Just before leaving she is attacked by a strange man with one arm and as no one will believe her she joins her husband and tries to put it out of her mind. Settling into a cottage on the campus grounds the school appears to have a strange funeral-like atmosphere to it which is not helped by the unsettling presence on campus of the headmaster Michael Carmichael (Peter Cushing in a smaller than usual role) and his seductive wife Molly (Joan Collins in a very effective performance). Left alone in their small cottage while Robert attends a conference in London Peggy is attacked again by the one armed man and the suspicion is placed on Michael who only has the one arm. As it turns out he is completely innocent of the crime and as the story progresses it is reveled that Robert and Molly are involved in an affair and are using Peggy and Michael in an elaborate scheme to get possession of Michael's property and money. Michael however turns the tables on the scheming pair and in an exciting climax to the story their murderous plans fall in a heap with both Robert and Molly getting their just desserts.
"Fear in the Night" is really one of the better later day efforts by Hammer Studios and what is an essentially 4 character story is acted with great polish by the four leads. Joan Collins is very effective in her small role of the scheming Molly and Judy Geeson displays just the right vulnerable qualities as the young bride who thinks she might or might not, be actually going insane. Ralph Bates delivers a first rate performance as the villian of the piece. His earlier scenes as the loving and concerned husband make way beautifully to reveal the deadly murderer he actually is. The surprise twist in the story while not totally unexpected does still deliver a jolt and the build up to the climax as Peggy now finds herself in danger from all quarters is first rate. One of this films great strengths is it's evocative atmosphere, from the eerie halls of the "fake" school to the shots on the somehow sinister grounds of the estate both during the day and night scenes. A genuine feeling of menace and apprehension is felt in particular in the earlier scenes as we are introduced to this school and its strange inhabitants. My one regret is that horror veterans Peter Cushing and Joan Collins as husband and wife never share any scenes as the combination of these two talents would have greatly benefited the story.
As a later day Hammer effort this film is essential viewing for all lovers of this studio's work. With a story deliberately unfolding at a slower pace and then building up to an exciting climax with numerous suitable red herrings thrown in along the way for good measure it makes enjoyable viewing for those that like good atmosphere and believable characters even in an unbelievable story such as this. Boasting seasoned talents such as Peter Cushing, long a star of many fine Hammer horror efforts, combining well with developing talent such as Ralph Bates, at that time seen as a future star of the studio's productions helps make "Fear in the Night", a great piece of mystery viewing. "