FEAR IN THE NIGHT - DYNASTY OF FEAR

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Fear in the Night (1972) Cover Quite some time ago I had a very good friend who was very scared of the night. Granted, maybe this had something to do with him being an actual werewolf. Plus I'm pretty damn sure that this was also unswervingly linked with this film, Directed by: Jimmy Sangster; and Starring: Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Judy Geeson, with Ralph Bates. It was made in 1972, and lasted for a whole 94 minutes.


Fear in the Night (1972)


THE STORY:
So there she was, pretty Peggy Heller (Judy Geeson), packing her bags and getting ready to live her new life in the country with her fresh-faced husband, Robert (Ralph Bates). When suddenly -- SLAP! -- for no reason whatsoever she's attacked from behind by a madman with a false arm.

But don't you worry folks! Peggy does survive this assault. Damn straight she does. And once she's back on her feet again, she spends some quality time with Robert, leisurely walking around the school he's currently working in, and talking about their new life together amongst other things.

Furthermore, later that same day, Peggy gets to meet the Headmaster of this school too. Michael Carmichael (Peter Cushing). And apart from being a very astute academic by nature, with a nice sideline in tying knots, he also has something surprising up his sleeve he's doesn't want Peggy to know about.

Pssst! I give you a clue. One of his limbs is made of plastic.  

Still, that's most probably why what next transpires all takes a hit on the head when Peggy meets Michael's wife, Molly, (Joan Collins), after she gets attacked yet again by a madman with a false arm. As a wife takes her best shot - a husband wants to know what's what - past tragedies come to light - and I kid you not; the end of this film is kind of alright!




THE REVIEW:
Picture the scene. You're a very-very hungry person, and after waiting for a very-very long time in a restaurant for a meal you've just ordered, you swiftly notice a napkin from the corner of your eye.  So in haste, you pick up this napkin and start chewing upon it, just so you can fill the void for the time being. However, once you've finally digested this small paper-based towelette, the waiter arrives' and then serves you something so smashing, you literally feel out of this world.

Fear in the Night Film Poster
OK. I hope you've got all of that, pal. Because without putting too finer point on it. This is how I feel about watching 'Fear in the Night'.

Well, I spent a long time feeling somewhat undernourished whilst viewing this film. And then, when I had to digest quite a lot of the cardboard-like acting -- BANG! -- it served up one hell of a treat with only thirty minutes to spare.

Yeah. Straight up! The first hour was rather long-winded and tiresome. As I had a hard time trying to engage with the plot, and figure out what the hell was going on. Fair enough. I did have a rough idea it was about why Peggy was attacked. Yet, whilst saying that, I did have to sit through an unreasonable amount of 'exposition like' scenes explaining the who's who, and the what's what, without touching upon the why's why.

Moreover, I didn't really connect with the Peggy character either. By in large she just came across too wooden and too stiff. Plus she never really had any form of congenial charm I would've expected for someone in this role to have.


Joan Collins in Fear in the Night


In contrast to this, though, when the twist in this movie did eventually occur, I have to give kudos to Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, and Ralph Bates, for really bringing this thriller back to life. Honestly. All of them really brought something I initially thought was as dead as a dead duck that died many-many years ago.

'But how did they do this?' you may ask. Well, they just gave this flick some much needed substance by relaying back-story, character, and plot, which made the first chunk of the film seem very pale in comparison. Also, another thing they provided was that grass-roots 'Hammer' charm, with its grainy yet lavish spender they always used to have.


Fear in the Night (1972) Double Bill


Fear in the Night (1972) Poster
Anyway, before I get too esoteric about this matter; let's have some filmic-facts, shall we? (1) 'Hammer Film Productions' first released this £141,000 pound picture on the same date Paul McCartney and Wings did their first international tour -- the 9th of July, 1972. (2) This thriller was the last of three feature-films directed by the Welsh screenwriter / producer, Jimmy Sangster, who was with Hammer since the early sixties. (3) Whilst most of the internal scenes were shot at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, the external scenes were shot throughout the said same county, such as: Aldenham Country Park, Letchmore Heath, plus Tykes Water Lake. (4) Originally this project went by the name of 'Brainstorm', and was going to be developed by 'Universal' in 1963. But after numerous failed attempts at making this flick -- first in 1964, and second in 1965 -- the writer, Jimmy, and his co-writer, Michael Syson, decided to take matters into their own hands. (5) DeForest Kelley -- who was the actor that played Doctor McCoy in the sci-fi television show, 'Star Trek' -- starred in a 1947 American movie which shares the same name as this one. (6) When this movie was released in America -- on October, 1974 -- not only did they change its title to 'Dynasty Of Fear', but it also shared a double-bill with another Hammer film, 'Demons of the Mind', starring Patrick Magee. (7) 'Time Out' magazine once said that this was 'one of those neatly constructed -- but slightly mechanical -- psycho-thrillers, which can make you feel as if someone is pushing buttons connected to electrodes in your brain'. Whatever that means. (8) It has been alleged that the plot of this piece was taken directly from another script Jimmy Sangster wrote in 1961, entitled 'A Taste of Fear'.


Peter Cushing in Fear in the Night (1972)


All in all 'Fear in the Night' was a pretty bi-polar thriller. The first two-third's of this flick was as dynamic as a dead duck. Where as the last third of this flick was as dynamic as a stick of dynamite exploding in a dynamite factory.

Ka-POW! Nuff said.

THE RATING: B-