Monday 27 November 2017


Directed by: Jimmy Sangster, Starring: Judy Geeson, Ralph Bates, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing. Horror, UK 1972, Cert 12.

"I'm going to find something that will mark her a little, and hurt her a lot."

Originally enlisted as the supporting half of a 1972 Hammer double-bill alongside STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING (accompanied by the lurid poster tagline: ‘Women in terror!’), Jimmy Sangster’s moderately effective little thriller has now been treated to a HD restoration.

The script, known under various guises, was originally conceived by Sangster back in 1963 before it finally saw the light of day (and fear in the night – ha!) with some alterations and a bit of spit and polish by co-writer Michael Syson. Recently married 22 year old Peggy (Judy Geeson) is still recovering from a nervous breakdown when she comes to live with her ‘schoolteacher’ husband Robert (Ralph Bates) in a cottage on the grounds of a remote boy’s school. Having already survived an attempted strangulation in her former bedsit at the (gloved) hands of an unseen assailant with a prosthetic arm, things don’t bode well for Peggy’s psychological recovery when the headmaster at the school, Michael Carmichael (Peter Cushing) just so happens to also have a prosthetic arm...

A relatively by the numbers rift on LES DIABOLIQUES (1955), director Sangster compensates for the minimalist script by wringing every last possible drop of atmosphere out of prowling through the deserted classrooms, dormitories and across the windswept school grounds after woman-in-terror Peggy.  

Peter Cushing only appears in a couple of scenes, but he lends his customary consummate excellence in conveying the nuanced character of Carmichael, and his presence permeates throughout the film.

Ralph Bates struggles to convince in a role that requires a lot in order to sell the plot twists, but Joan Collins’ unblinking dispatch by rifle of a rabbit unsubtly sketches in her cold calculation as the wife of the headmaster.

There’s a strikingly effective use of school sound recordings which play at the flick of a switch and which rise to a shrieking cacophony during the film’s finale – mirroring the spiralling madness infecting the proceedings. The opening credit sequence cyclically foreshadows events to come, as does a scene in the gymnasium with a display of rope knots carefully framed behind headmaster Carmichael, and an unexpectedly open-ended conclusion helps negate the somewhat implausible and mechanical plotting preceding it, delivering if not quite fear in the night then certainly a shiver in the morning.          

***(out of 5*)

Paul Worts

This review was originally published on the FrighFest website.

Friday 10 November 2017


1 point
2 points
2 points
So, with Freddy Krueger's incinerated ashes still still not re-resurrected (to date), that only leaves these two titans of terror left to slug and slash it out for their respective franchises.
You can read my review of Halloween (2018) HERE.

My initial feeling after watching Friday the 13th (2009) on opening day was one of overwhelming disappointment. Given the potential to finally unshackle Jason from the censoriously snippy choppy inclinations of both the MPAA and the BBFC I found the majority of the kills largely unimpressive and lacking the visceral punch of the early 80's Savini latex heydays. The characters were easily some of the most hateful and unsympathetic creations ever to (dis)grace the franchise. The cinematography and scoring were uninspiring and bland, the limp jump scares failed to land, and the blink-or-you'll-miss-it tokenistically grudging monochrome flashback prologue with Nana Visitor's Mrs Voorhees foreshadowed the overall throwaway complacency of the production. Just to be clear here, none of the above criticism is directed towards Derek Mears' portrayal of Jason - which was kinetically excellent in itself - both in the cloth sack and hockey mask - and frankly deserved a better showcase.   

But, as both these lumbering sultans of slash are heavy-breathing down the back of my neck, and despite Jamie Lee Curtis' return to the retconned (with the emphasis on 'con') Halloween franchise, I am awarding 2 points to Jason and 1 to Michael. (Neither warrant the 3 maximum points).

Final score after 11 rounds (and whilst acknowledging the last 2 rounds were sans Freddy altogether): 
Friday the 13th 22
Halloween 20 & 
Nightmare on Elm Street 20

“Yes, yes, well done, Jason...’ pronounced Dumbledore. ‘However, recent events must be taken into account...”

Well, by virtue numerically of subsequent installments alone, Michael technically takes the crown from Jason, given that Mr. M from Haddonfield has now notched up both Halloween Kills (2021), and Halloween Ends (2022). Full disclosure, I thought Kills was garbage and can't bring myself to actually pay to see Ends. 

Will we ever see Jason or Freddy on the big screen again? Perhaps now that the legal tug of war between Victor Miller and Sean Cunningham appears to be finally resolved we can maybe look forward to a return to Crystal Lake. As to whether a trip to Elm Street will ever be on the cards again...

(This blog entry was updated on 16th October 2022).

Paul Worts


Wednesday 1 November 2017


3 points
2 points
For 'Round 10', Freddy is unfortunately out of the running as the 2010 reboot represents (currently) the last screen outing for the bladed-gloved dream fiend...

So should I end the comparisons there? Hell no, fortune favours the brave, so... I award 3 points  UNRESERVEDLY to
one of my absolute favourite F13 instalments (outside the original quad). Todd Farmer's audacious script placed Jason in space, and Jason (Jim) Isaacs, who sadly passed away on May 6th, 2012, directed the hell out of it. Bold, audacious, visually impressive, with a cameo from David Cronenberg, the awesome 'Uber Jason', one of the franchise's very best kills (death by liquid nitrogen) and a holographic Camp Crystal Lake!  

And 2 points to the equally much maligned Halloween II from Rob Zombie. Sorry (not sorry), but I really took to this ultra-violent retelling, and crushing the original sequel's entire premise into an opening nightmare? Bravo! 

Running scores after 10 rounds:  
Nightmare on Elm Street 20
Friday the 13th 20
Halloween 19