It is a great pleasure to do the review for this British horror film. One goal I have in writing the reviews that I do is to share the excitement I feel upon watching something really good… and Frightmare is most certainly really good. If you were to look at the poster for this film, you would probably think it’s going to be a bad slasher-type film and you would be very wrong. I know I was.
Frightmare starts off in 1957 with a lonely man knocking on someone’s door and expressing his need for help from the person who answers. A few moments later, we see his head caved in. It’s not really shown, but the authorities catch up to the killers, and the next thing we see is the judge reading them the riot act for their heinous crimes. Turns out they murdered a half dozen people for cannibalism. They were also husband and wife. Instead of the death penalty, they are to be referred to an insane asylum, and the last scene we have of them is simply their hands reaching out to one another as the judge reads their sentence. A touching embrace from some monsters.
Fast forward to 1974. The film now changes from black and white to color, and we see an attractive but underage girl, Debbie, out with her friends at a bar. The bartender won’t serve her, which causes a stink, and they all get kicked out of the bar. Unfortunately for the bartender, her friends decide to attack him behind the bar on his way to grab more alcohol. Of course, the police are called, but mysteriously, the body is gone before they arrive. Only a pool of blood is left behind. The gang of kids have no idea that the little girl they were beating the bartender up for had very different ideas of what the bartender needed for retribution.
When Debbie returns home from the bar at two in the morning, her sister, Jackie, gets into a heated argument about the fifteen year old staying out all hours of the night. To which Debbie shouts back about Jackie leaving in the middle of the night to go who knows where. Turns out Jackie has been visiting her father and stepmother, you know, the ones convicted of cannibalism. They had recently been released from the asylum with a bill of health.
Jackie’s father was so devoted to her stepmother that he had faked his mental illness to stay with her during her time at the asylum. Once they were both released, he even convinced Jackie to start bringing animal brains out to the secluded farmhouse where they were living. The idea was to keep her weird tastes sated, but before long, she’s back murdering again. And Debbie may have inherited some tastes of her own…
This is one of those you need to see to fully appreciate. I watched this on Shudder, and I see some review comments complaining this was a bit too slow at the start, but I disagree very much. I would call this enthralling. Quite a bit of it was filmed like an art house film, and the story was superb. The dynamic between the children, husband and cannibal wife was very well done.
It’s pretty amazing this was never remade or rebooted in any way, shape, or form. Then again, this is one of those films that just stands well on its own. I doubt it could be modernized very well or with any sort of care. I don’t want to dive into spoilers, but I will say this story really has something to say beyond the bloodthirsty slasher poster. I’m going to dish out a 4/5 star review for this. For one, it has what I found to be an amazing story of love, but not the kind you’d typically find. This also manages to have some really cool scenes and does a pretty good job at pacing. Then there is the ending that you have to see for yourself.