FORGOTTEN TV DRAMA: THE FRIGHTENERS. (1972) ITV STUDIOS LIMITED. A LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION PRODUCTION. AVAILABLE FROM NETWORK. STARRING TOM BELL, JENNIE LINDEN, ROBIN ELLIS, JOHN THAW, IAN HOLM, IAN HENDRY, CLIVE SWIFT, JOHN STANDING AND JOE LYNCH.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘No cops and robbers…
No clanking chains…
No well-worn horror themes…
… (just) ordinary people threatened by situations that slide startlingly, menacingly out of control…’
I knew I’d happened upon something special when I picked up this box-set in my local DVD and record store. Then, when I played it and saw the old London Weekend Television logo come up on the screen, I got actual shivers down my spine, lol.
What this is, exactly, is an anthology of thirteen (unlucky for some!) stories of roughly twenty-five minutes in length each. They’re not horror stories, per se, but rather ‘haunting tales of malice and manipulation, vengeance and mounting terror,’ as it says on the DVD box.
They won’t leave you lying wide-eyed and awake in your bed till the early hours, trembling with terror at each imagined creak on the stair or rattle of the doorknob, but you might be left with a nasty taste in your mouth and the words, Hmmm, that was unpleasant! on your lips…
I’ve chosen a few of the thirteen for special mention. THE NIGHT OF THE STAG features Jennie Linden (WOMEN IN LOVE) and Robin Ellis (POLDARK, FAWLTY TOWERS) as a couple who are breaking up because he- the bastard!- is marrying someone else in the morning. It’s the ultimate betrayal for Ginnie, the scorned girlfriend, because Mike, the rat, never bothered to propose to her during their time together, much as she might have wanted him to.
Ginny was never the kind of woman who was going to go quietly. Watching this, I was torn between yelling ‘Good for you, missus!’ at the screen when she was bullying him into revealing his plans for the future, and cringing behind a cushion because she doesn’t display any dignity when she’s begging him not to throw away everything they had together.
She manipulates, badgers and browbeats him into spending ‘just one more night together.’ His brain might be screaming no, but his willy is already in the bed, stripped and preparing for penetration, lol. God, men are so predictable.
And in the house where he’s going to be living with his new bride, as well! How could he disrespect either woman like that? Oh yeah, right. Because he’s on a promise of free sex, the bastard. Will the morning find him bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take his matrimonial vows, or will it find him at all…? This is a really superior vignette, from the pen of Andrea A BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE Newman.
MISS MOUSE is a torrid little tale of an unhappy marriage that comes to a sudden, shocking conclusion when the hubby does what he’s probably fantasised about doing for years… He accidentally strangles his gobby missus to death.
No-one knows his horrid little secret… except for the titular Miss Mouse, the downstairs tenant, who’s heard everything on the baby monitor. Can Miss Mouse turn this nasty situation to her own advantage, or is there a third person listening in on Miss Mouse’s attempts at enriching her own life through the blackmailing of a wife-killer…?
BED AND BREAKFAST is the most ingenious and also the nastiest of the stories, for my money. Ian Hendry and Wendy Gifford play Anthony and Olive Ashworth, a married couple who seek accommodation for the night in a Scottish country guest-house that’s not really a guest-house at all. Yes, I’m being deliberately mysterious here, heh-heh-heh.
The younger couple unsettle the sweet elderly couple who own the house, the Cartwrights, to the point where we’re feeling terribly sorry for the two old folks, but then the Ashworths play their trump card… a third, even more elderly person whose identity, when it’s revealed to the Cartwrights, will bear all the hallmarks of chickens coming home to roost…
THE CLASSROOM, aka THE SCHOOLROOM, written by Irish writer William Trevor, features Clive Swift (Richard from KEEPING UP APPEARANCES) as a grown-up former pupil of a Miss Smith’s, who turns up unexpectedly to Miss Smith’s retirement party. And let’s just say that he hasn’t been polishing any apples for Teacher, either; rather, he’s been tenderly nurturing some mighty fine grudges, and tonight they might just be coming to fruition…
Finally, HAVE A NICE TIME AT THE ZOO, DARLING is a deeply disturbing story that sees an old man stalking a pretty, thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Filmed in black-and-white, with some scenes set in Chessington Zoo, this one has the viewer asking themselves: Who is this old man? Is he a paedophile? Why else would he be following this child around the zoo and reaching out to touch her hair…? I must warn you, this one might leave you hanging…
These stories are the most unusual I’ve come across in a while, and this little box-set is my new pride and joy. If you should happen across it yourself, I heartily recommend that you buy it. It’ll give you the creeps for Christmas, and we all like a creep at Christmas. Don’t we…?
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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