Three young Cockney louts – Mickey (John Malcolm) Ginger (Ray Armstrong) and Tim (a youthful John Challis who would go on to play Boycie in Only Fools and Horses) – are ejected from a London nightclub for rowdiness and meet up outside with the posher Kip (Christopher Robbie) who was also thrown out because the bouncers thought he was with them.
Seeing shopkeeper Emilio Dinelli (Warren Mitchell) working late in his business (a shop that sells carnival and fairground novelties), the four lads decide to break in.
They barge in, rob his cash box and tie him up, then proceed to and torment him while playing around in the shop, becoming increasingly boisterous and breaking a “Ballerama” pinball-style football game.
Discovering the old Italian shopkeeper used to be a stage magician called “The Great Emilio”, they bully him into giving them a show.
Emilio introduces a flimsy curtained cabinet. He takes a couple of things from the lads, places them in the cabinet, closes the curtains, and moments later the curtains open to reveal the items have gone.
He invites one of the boys to try the cabinet and Kip agrees. Stepping behind the curtain, Emilio recites a few magic words and when the curtain opens, Kip has gone. He then invites Ginger to try.
The lad nervously agrees and once again the curtains close and – after the magic words – the curtains open to reveal an empty box.
Finally, Mickey agrees to go into the cabinet and the same thing happens once more.
Tim makes a run for it and returns with the police. Emilio explains that the boys “were here but they have gone”, and everyone leaves.
Emilio then starts to lock up his shop for the night and breaks into hysterical laughter. The twist ending is clever and satisfying, and still spine-chilling today.
Set in a single location, this independent film was clearly made on a very limited budget and is slow-paced and talky like a prototype episode of Tales of the Unexpected. But it juggles the thriller and horror genres nicely and, at 59 minutes, doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Future Rocky Horror Picture Show star Patricia Quinn appears in a bit part in her feature film debut.