Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Moral Obscenity

'Frightmare' is an absolute corker: described on release as 'trash' by, oh the irony, 'The Sun', this film is gory, ridiculous, massively entertaining, and has a towering central performance from veteran character actor Sheila Keith.

Jackie is a normal, healthy woman from a very odd family. Her sadistic fifteen year old half-sister is out of control and running with a slightly crappy biker gang, and her father is a pathetic doormat, obsessed with his wife Dorothy's well-being. Dorothy, Jackie's step mother and biggest problem, is a psychotic cannibal / driller killer who entices lonely people to her deserted farmhouse on the pretext of giving them a Tarot reading, then kills them horribly and eats their brains. You might want to read that sentence again.

Hardly any of this makes sense when you stop and think about it, but it works brilliantly. The murders are full on enough to elicit that 'eew' noise when the knife / pitchfork / drill / red hot poker goes in, Deborah Fairfax is a rather fetching leading lady (wasted on speccy know it all Paul Greenwood) and Sheila Keith plays Dorothy to absolute perfection: genteel, vulnerable lady one moment, dribbling lunatic killer the next, but retaining enough of both to keep the audience guessing what she's going to do next. The scene where she cackles uncontrollably as she drills into a skull and is spattered with blood is unforgettable - it's hard to think of any other middle aged British actress ever going this far in a performance - it's a grand guignol tour de force, if that's not mixing my pretentious foreign descriptors.

Directed by the lovely Pete Walker, the last few minutes cop out a bit in terms of plot, but, in the end analysis, that's a small price to pay for such an entertaining and joyfully daft eighty odd minutes of dysfunctional family fun.


  1. The whole thing is on youtube...

  2. Best British horror film of the 1970's. And a happy ending for all the family.

    Worship at the altar of Sheila Keith.