Fear in the Night (1972)

Fear in the Night (1972)
  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Horror | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Jimmy Sangster
  • Cast: Judy Geeson, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Ralph Bates


A young woman recovering from a nervous breakdown moves with her husband to a boys’ school, but finds herself being terrorized by a mysterious one-armed man – and nobody believes her.

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  • Peggy (Judy Geeson), a recently married young woman, plans to move with her new beau Robert (Ralph Bates) to a secluded boy’s school near London where he is set to teach. The night before they travel, she is attacked from behind by a man with a prosthetic arm, who strangles her but leaves her alive. Awakening in a panic, the attack is put down to her recent mental health issues and they later arrive at the deserted school. There she meets the ghoulish headteacher Michael Carmichael (Peter Cushing), a one-armed man with a shadowy demeanour, and his bitch wife Molly (Joan Collins).

    Directed and co-written by one of Hammer’s driving forces, Jimmy Sangster, Fear in the Night sees Hammer at the very end of their life (before their recent resurgence), when they were struggling at the box-office and failing to bring in their young target audience. Interestingly, the film favours the slow-build, creeping atmosphere of their early thrillers, and not the blood and guts approach they adopted during their most prolific years. Sadly, Fear in the Night’s ponderous narrative is not saved by it’s more European approach, and the film is a pretty dull affair for the most part.

    The notable lack of red-herrings means that it doesn’t take long for the audience to figure it all out, and there’s plenty of time to piece it together given the length of time dedicated to Peggy plodding around investigating her strange experiences. The performances are as solid as you would expect however, with Cushing managing to steal the film with a relatively small amount of screen time, and Geeson is perfectly charming as the unassuming lead, which makes it all the more tragic that the ensemble weren’t handed more to run with. Notably lacking in the gothic atmosphere that audiences used to flock to experience, or any atmosphere at all really, this was one of Hammer’s final whimpers before tragically folding.

    Rating: 2/5

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