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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Susan George, Honor Blackman, Ian Bannen and Dennis Waterman
Optimum Classic
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 18 January 2010

A young woman called Amanda agrees to babysit at a remote country house. Helen and Jim are new to the area, and are going out to celebrate an anniversary 'of sorts'. However, the moment they leave the house seems to adopt an immediate oppressive atmosphere. Every little sound in the house increases Amanda's anxiety, culminating in the shock of catching a glimpse of a face through the window. When her wannabe boyfriend knocks on the door she is both relieved and angry - but he insists he hasn't looked through the window. Meanwhile, Helen and Jim are having a meal and drinks with Dr Cordell, who is trying to calm Helen's paranoia about her violent psychotic ex-husband. But he's safely locked-up - or is he? A phone call to the house reveals the line has been cut...

It's not too much of a spoiler to reveal the true cause for concern at the house, because that's exactly what the film does less than a third of the way through the running time, thereby dispelling any suspense which might have built up prior to that moment. In fact, up until that 'reveal' the unspoken factor regarding the house proves quite intriguing. I was made to wonder: Is there a mad old woman in the attic? A torture chamber in the cellar? A wild, genetically altered, beast in the grounds? Or is there something strange about the baby? I was more than a little disappointed that it turned out to be something infinitely more mundane; although no doubt just as frightening if it happened for real.

A couple of observations: At one stage Amanda turns on the TV, and the film The Plague of the Zombies is showing (unfortunately in black and white, because the film is colour), a good example of the Hammer horror output from the years before Fright. Also, the music being played while Helen and Jim are drinking is keyboard heavy and very reminiscent of Barry Gray's incidental music for Gerry Anderson's UFO series from 1970.

Fright is most notable for it's who's who of British TV stars and the then up and coming names. Jim is played by George Cole, veteran of many an Ealing comedy and star of TV's Minder. Helen is Honor Blackman, Avenger girl and sidekick to Patrick MacNee. Amanda is Susan George, a regular face on TV around this time. The boyfriend is played by Dennis Waterman, later to find fame in The Sweeney and alongside George Cole in Minder. There are also roles from Ian Bannen, Maurice Kaufmann, and an early appearance by Roger Lloyd Pack, 'Trigger' from Only Fools and Horses.

Director David Swift also helmed one of my all-time favourite films, The Italian Job. This is nowhere near as good, but it is a polished achievement which undoubtedly had more impact than it has today.


Ty Power

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