Review – Fright (1971)
Fright is a British thriller made in 1971, and i think it’s fair to say, it’s nothing short of an exercise in pure terror. It was directed by Peter Collinson, who also helmed the 1968 movie adaption of Up The Junction, but most famously he directed the classic Michael Caine crime caper, The Italian Job, a year later in 1969.
It’s set in a small English village, where Amanda, played by Susan George, earns extra money to pay for her childcare course, at the local college by babysitting. As the opening credits roll we hear the main theme, Ladybird Ladybird, an eerie little tune, which nicely sets up the atmosphere for what’s to come. Amanda is walking through the woods, on her way to babysit for a fairly well off couple, the Lloyds, Helen and Jim, played by Honor Blackman and George Cole.
From the minute she arrives at the Lloyds sizeable country house, situated just off a remote country lane, we can tell all is not as it seems. The amount of bolts and locks on the front door, coupled with the nervous disposition of the Lloyds, should have set alarm bells ringing immediately. Then to find out they are going out to celebrate a “kind of” anniversary, which neither of them seem to want to talk about, you just know that from this point on, something is very wrong.
The Lloyds then head off into town to the local pub, and from this moment on things begin to turn distinctly creepy. As Amanda begins to make herself at home, she begins to realise just how quiet and secluded the house is, the silence only being broken by the sounds of leaking taps, and a clothes line tapping against the branch of a tree in the back yard. We also have someone creeping around outside. Without giving too much away, we later find out that Jim Lloyd is Helen’s second husband. Her first husband, Brian, is locked up in an insane asylum, for trying to murder her and their child. So who is it that’s lurking outside, watching Amanda ??? I’m sure you can see where this is going. There are some genuinely unnerving moments in the first half of the film, and that feeling of creeping dread, is hard to shake, as we move into the final shocking act.
Fright is a superior thriller with a brilliant cast. Supporting the main players, we have Dennis Waterman as Chris, Amanda’s neanderthal boyfriend, Ian Bannen as Brian the, “mad as a box of frogs”, ex husband, and John Gregson, who most of us remember from the classic British comedy of 1955, Genevieive, who turns in a nice performance as a friend of the Lloyds who’s also Brians psychiatrist.
Fright does exactly what it says on the tin, and is a worthy precursor to movies like Halloween, and When A Stranger Calls, which took up the baton of the “babysitter in peril” genre later in the decade, and truly ran with it.
There were quite a few, exceptional British movies with a similar feel to Fright, released in the early 70s including Assault starring Suzy Kendall and Frank Finlay, And Soon The Darkness with Michelle Dotrice and Pamela Franklin and Revenge starring Joan Collins. If you like your movies scary as hell, well acted and with a side serving of mild 70s sleaze, then Fright will definetely tick all of your boxes. Yes it’s a little bit predictable, and it doesn’t exactly break new ground as far as horror/thrillers go, but it’s a highly enjoyable, creepy thrillride, you won’t forget in a hurry.