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Fright (1971)

Teenage hipster Amanda (Susan George) is babysitting for the Lloyds – Helen (Honor Blackman) and Jim (George Cole) – in their gloomy, secluded and rather spooky old house.

Once the Lloyds depart, leaving Amanda alone with their 3-year-old son, Tara (played by director Peter Collinson’s real-life son, Tara Collinson), every sound in the house takes on added menace – the dripping tap, a creaking door, a ticking clock, a mysterious tapping sound, footsteps – and of course, a sudden face at the window.

Everything is an assault on Amanda’s nerves.

The face at the window turns out to be Amanda’s boyfriend, Chris (Dennis Waterman), popping around for a spot of hows your father.

Meanwhile, Helen and Jim are at the pub with Dr Cordell (John Gregson), the doctor who is dealing with Helen’s ex-husband Brian (Ian Bannen) – Tara’s biological father and a certified homicidal maniac who is housed in a local sanitarium after previously attempting to kill Helen and her son.

Back at the house, young Chris has been turfed out and meets a particularly grizzly end on his way out. Looks like Brian is no longer in the sanitarium . . .

Fright is low on actual blood and gore but high on psychological horror, unseen menace and danger – which is often more terrifying – and well ahead of other bigger-name examples like Halloween, which came seven years later in 1978.

That said, the film narrowly misses out on being a Brit horror classic due to the drawn-out ending. The film actually has the perfect finale, but that turns out to be a false ending, with the actual end coming after a rather slow police stand-off.

Susan George
Helen Lloyd
Honor Blackman
Jim Lloyd
George Cole
Tara Collinson
Dennis Waterman
Brian Halston
Ian Bannen
Dr Cordell
John Gregson
Maurice Kaufmann
Michael Brennan
Roger Lloyd Pack

Peter Collinson