Jimmy Sangster, 1972, UK
‘Fear in the Night’ is a pretty rudimentary thriller with a “twist”, conceived to go along with a Hammer Studio's “Women in Peril” double-bill with ‘Straight on till Morning’. A woman recovering from a breakdown is going to live with her husband in a boy’s school far out in the country, but just before she leaves she is attacked by someone with an artificial arm. What the film does offer is some excellent direction by Jimmy Sangster and solid acting. Sangster delivers a gripping opening sequence, a school setting which is both eerie and slightly surreal, some framing that rivals Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’, some excellent segues, and a taut attack-chase sequence that verges on the dream-like. Ellipses manage to muddy the otherwise obvious ‘Diabolique’ plot and characterisation with some fine performances from Peter Cushing, Judy Gleeson, Ralph Bates and Joan Collins that gives the procedure weight. Hammer was frequently about plot standards invigorated with excellent details. ‘Fear in the Night’ also gives a great iconic image of the wonderful Cushing wearing a pair of shattered glasses, and it is his back-story alone that provides the genuine chills right up to the end and after.