Frightmare (1974)

cover up 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Mother likes eating humans.

After 15 years of being locked up in an asylum Dorothy and Edmund Yates (Sheila Keith, Rupert Davies) are freed, Dorothy was in there for killing 6 people and eating their flesh while Edmund helped cover it up from authorities. Now that they are deemed sane they are free to start their lives over. Jackie (Deborah Fairfax) is their oldest daughter and she secretly visits them on the side, but their youngest daughter Debbie (Kim Butcher) was just an infant when they were put away and does not know that they are out. Jackie tries to keep their parents past from her, but this proves difficult when Dorothy starts killing again and Debbie begins showing the same homicidal traits.

On the technical end this British made horror isn’t too bad. Director Pete Walker makes the most of his limited budget by keeping the story moving and never allowing it to get bogged down with endless dialogue. There is a surprising amount of gore that looks relatively realistic and the recent Kino Lorber Blu-ray transfer is excellent with sharp color and no graininess.

However, it’s not scary at all. Yes, the subject matter is a bit unsettling, but there are no shocks or surprises and no atmosphere or tension either. The twist ending might’ve been effective had the script not telegraphed it, so by the time that it does occur it’s a letdown since the viewer had already been anticipating it for quite a while.

The idea that anyone could ever be considered ‘sane’ after killing and eating 6 people is absurd as mental illness isn’t something that can be ‘cured’ and freeing anyone at any time after committing such a heinous crime is illogical. It made me wonder what test was given to see if Dorothy no longer had cannibalistic urges and had therefore ‘earned’ her freedom. Did they throw a human body in front of her and if she didn’t jump up and bite into it was she then deemed ‘normal’?

Although she doesn’t look anything like the drawing on the film’s promotional poster I did enjoy Keith in the lead especially the way she could quickly go from menacing to child-like. I also liked Butcher, who despite looking like she was way over 15, which was the supposed age of her character is fun as the rebellious teen particularly the scenes where she challenges the authority of her older sister.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: November 6, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 22Minutes

Rated R

Director: Pete Walker

Studio: Miracle

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

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