Britain's answer to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
finds its villain in a little old fortunetelling lady who likes to take an electric drill to the skulls of her customers. Sheila Keith is the seemingly dotty old woman recently released from an insane asylum with her doting husband (Rupert Davies). Brunette Deborah Fairfax's good-girl heroine helps stepmom through the transition with midnight visits and animal brains (yum!), while her thrill-killing delinquent half-sister (the appropriately named Kim Butcher) takes to the family business with a deliriously ferocious glee.
This is the film that gave British goremeister Pete Walker his notorious reputation, with its brain-munching matron and her gory murder spree (including a red-hot fireplace poker through the stomach--ouch!). The movie is tight and well acted, and Walker's usually blunt style rises to the occasion of David McGillivray's script, a sad and savage psychodrama that takes the blood in blood relations with a cruel literalness. Walker's grainy black-and-white prologue is startlingly visceral, and his penchant for numbing, nihilistic climaxes remains as strong as ever. This well-mounted splatter film is smarter than most of its ilk, with a strong subtext of family tensions, but it's definitely not for the squeamish.
Released uncut on home video for the first time by Image Entertainment, it's a sharp, colorful full-screen transfer of a good print, with only minor scratches. --Sean Axmaker
Years after being committed to an insane asylum for practicing cannibalism, a married couple (Rupert Davies and Sheila Keith) are let back into society...
Of all the grisly horrors directed by Pete Walker, Britain's chief specialist in shock cinema, Frightmare
is perhaps his best known work. Much of this has to do with the memorably lurid ad campaign, not to mention the indelible image of elderly Sheila Keith advancing towards the camera, wide-eyed and brandishing a power drill. Typical of Walker's films, Frightmare
abandons subtlety in favor of outright jabs at the establishment while embracing graphic gore and mayhem in a manner that makes the Hammer films of the period look positively quaint in comparison.