Nightmare (1964)

Freddy Francis directs another superb for Hammer psycho-thriller written by Jimmy Sangster. From Universal R1 Hammer boxset.

The Film

Hammer's meteoric success with their gothic horror titles in the late 1950s, had somewhat petered out by the early 1960s with the big budget failure of Phantom of the Opera (1962). To save the studio from extinction, a quick pair of psychological thrillers was commissioned from writer Jimmy Sangster, following the same formula as their earlier, and very popular Taste of Fear (1961). The films, Paranoiac (1963) and Maniac (1963) had proven a success, and a third quickly followed, Nightmare...

At age eleven, on her birthday, Janet saw her father brutally killed by her mother, and she was committed to an insane asylum for life. The young Janet, now 17, is still suffering from horrific nightmares and delusions, convinced that she is going insane like her mother did. Sent home from school to live at her old home, she begins to have even stranger and more terrible dreams, but is she going insane or is there something else happening? Like all of Jimmy Sangster's thrillers, Nightmare is full of twists and turns and is best enjoyed with no prior knowledge of the storyline at all (hence the very brief synopsis). Fortunately, unlike a lot of similar films, Sangster manages to make Nightmare scary, confusing and unexpected, but wraps it all up perfectly at the end, with a very good climax, and good pacing throughout.
Freddy Francis returns to direct after his success with Paranoiac, and gives another superb turn behind the camera, demonstrating the cinematography skills that won him two Oscars - effectively switching between the "dreams" and the "reality" such that the audience (like Janet herself) have difficulty working out which is which. Hammer regular Don Banks provides a light but very menacing orchestral soundtrack, but many of the scariest scenes play out in silence, which works well. There are no big names in the cast this time around, although most of them had long careers in British television and cinema, so might be recognisable. Fortunately, the standard of acting is high all round, especially from Jennie Linden as Janet.
Boasting a great script and strong direction, with some good performances all round, Nightmare is an effective thriller and fans of the Hammer psycho-thrillers should certainly enjoy it, as should fans of the genre as a whole. Recommended.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? No big names.
Directed by anyone interesting? Freddie Francis - went on to direct a variety of British horror films, from Hammer's Evil of Frankenstein (1964), to the Amicus anthology Torture Garden (1967), and Tyburn's impoverished Legend of the Werewolf (1975).
Is it scary?There are a few quite scary and shocking scenes.
Any violence? Some blood, but nothing too bad.
Any sex? No
Who is it for?
Fans of psychological thrillers should enjoy this well written film, especially fans of the Hammer thrillers.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Black & White.
A strong print with good detail, almost no print damage and only light grain.
Audio Original English mono - Dolby Digital - sounds fine.
Subtitles English HOH, Spanish and French.
Extras None.
      AvailabilityOnly available as part of the Hammer Horror Series boxset.
      Region Region 1 - NTSC
      Other regions? None known.
      Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is English language.



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      All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 4th July 2007.
      Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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