It All Happens In The Dark

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He knows you’re not alone.

Fright (1971)

I like the alternate title better – I’m Alone and I’m Scared! OK, I added the exclamation point. But doesn’t it make you think of I Want To Live! that old Susan Hayward movie, when I do it that way? Unfortunately no one in the film ever says, “I’m alone and I’m scared.” If it was said, it would come from Susan George who plays a babysitter – and it wouldn’t make any sense because she is never alone. Her horny pal drops by hoping to get in her pants, a lunatic pays her a visit, and even when they aren’t there the precious little angel she is in charge of for the night is upstairs sleeping. Though, he isn’t much help in terms of comfort or protection. Too bad he isn’t the spawn of Satan… but that is another babysitter movie.

So Susan George plays Amanda, who is watching Helen’s (Honor Blackman) baby so she can go out with her new hubby. Before the two leave, they offer the babysitter some Sherry. Good idea, get the girl who is going to be taking care of your kid nice and drunk

As Honor Blackman and new hubby are driving away they make some cryptic remarks like “Do you think she knows?”

Well, she doesn’t but I do. Helen’s “extremely paranoid and homicidal” ex-husband, Brian (Ian Bannen) tried to kill both Helen, their son and then himself and now he is in the nuthatch. Only, being the fateful night it is, he has escaped, and found his way to Helen’s abode.

Amanda’s horny pal Chris (Dennis Waterman) shows up and tries to get fresh with her. It half works, until they are interrupted by the phone and as is a woman’s prerogative Amanda changes her mind about getting all naked and kicks him out. Creepy Chris decides not to leave however, and to instead sneak around outside, where he hears what sounds like a really pissed off feline. We get a P.O.V. shot of something approaching Chris and he looks astounded by all of this and until I saw a human hand reach for his throat, I thought some giant jungle cat was prowling around the property.

Amanda hears a shout outside and decides to turn on the T.V. Before she was scared of someone knocking at the door and screamed when she saw clothes hanging on a line, but I guess someone being strangled doesn’t bother her too much.

Through all of the shouting and fighting with Chris, the phone ringing, the doorbell going off, the scary movie on T.V. blaring – the little kid upstairs doesn’t make a peep. I don’t know how he is getting any sleep.

Amanda sees someone peering in a window at her and in a panic tries to call Helen. But before they can be connected the phone line is cut. Amanda hears a strange noise and going to investigate sees someone trying to pry open an upstairs window. That is it for her – she’s out of there! She puts on her coat and opens the front door, and there is Chris his face a bloody mess. She screams, he falls into the foyer, and all of a sudden someone appears from outside. “Are you all right, I heard a scream?” the stranger asks. Now, could this possibly be the same person who was looking in the window and trying to break in? He says he’s a neighbor. Oh, Susan, don’t fall for it!

Of course it is Brian and he starts calling Susan “Helen.”And Amanda, having already shared that she is studing psychology implements it here and pretends she is Helen!

There is a really disturbing scene where Brian lays a terrorized Susan on the bed and kisses his way down her chest, and we see Honor Blackman enjoying this and moaning in pleasure, intercut with Susan George, whimpering and sweaty and horrified.

Helen and her new hubby were having dinner with a pal, who is a doctor, and we find out, the Brian’s doctor. Helen is worried about the call she missed and she thinks it is Amanda and something bad is happening. You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie! The doctor calls the hospital where Brian is was committed just to reassure Helen, but finds out that nutty made a break for it. Honor and the new hubby make a mad dash for the car and speed towards Helen’s house while the doctor goes to speak to the police.

Back at the house, Brian has fallen asleep on the bed, and I’m not sure if he raped Amanda or not, but it seems that way. She is sitting in a corner, looking a mess and crying. Oh, Jesus, get a damn frying pan and bash his head! Is she going to get hazard pay for this?

Amanda takes the baby and attempts to escape – she could have gotten away several times by now, but she keeps fucking it up. The police arrive, and while Brian is yelling at them through the front door, she runs into another room – but of course does not lock herself, just stands with the baby in her arms, shaking and mumbling “Please God, please God.” So of course Brian proceeds to come into the room and lock them all in.

The police on the scene do not have guns. There is only ONE GUN! and the inspector is on his way with it. Brian has thrown a chair through one of the windows and keeps sticking his face in the opening shrieking at the police. Even after the gun arrives, they do not shoot at him when he does this, though he practically has EASY TARGET in lights on his forehead.

Oh,  Ian Bannen is so over the top. With all his scenery chewing I’m surprised he didn’t chew a hole through one of the walls that Amanda could slip out of with the baby.

Amanda isn’t doing what Brian wants so he breaks a mirror and threatens her with a deadly looking shard of glass. He just wants to talk to Helen. After much fretting and debating she says she will go in if he releases Amanda and the baby in exchange. She goes in, he doesn’t hold up his part of the bargain, a tussle ensues. Amanda gets her hand on the piece of glass and what does she do? She doesn’t stab him in the back or the neck or any place effectual. She just slices the side of one of his cheeks. Jee-sus.

Amanda manages to escape, Brian tries to strangle Helen and then grabs the kid and the glass and walks out the front door. And what does the inspector do? He puts the gun away in the car.

Finally, thank God, Amanda somehow gets her hands on the pistol and shoots Brian right in the head.

Oh, this one was tough. The police are worthless, the characters are nitwits, the acting is all over the place, the story (even though this film preceded Black Christmas and Halloween and When A Stranger Calls – which draws heavily from Fright) feels stale – more likely due to the way it was executed and perhaps not so much the framework of the film itself, which now is old news but hadn’t been done to death yet when Fright was released.

Was anyone more terrorized than Susan George in 1971? We have this, and Straw Dogs and Die Screaming, Marianne! If you’re a fan of Susan George or Honor Blackman check it out, but beyond those two there is nothing to see here. C


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