Jimmy Sangster (director)
30 October 2017 (released)
30 October 2017
This lesser known Hammer film from 1976 was originally released as part of a double-bill and now, 41 years later, it is released in double-play format. The plot of this psychological horror is certainly unusual if not bonkers altogether and the film sees Judy Geeson, Ralph Bates and Peter Cushing in the leads.
Peggy (Judy Geeson), a fragile young caregiver who still recovers from the effects of a nervous breakdown has just married teacher Robert Heller (Ralph Bates) and soon she will be moving in with him to a secluded boarding school south of London. The night before her departure she is attacked by a mysterious man with a prosthetic hand but when she frantically tries to explain what happens no one, including the investigating policeman nor her husband, really believe her and put it all down to her disturbed mental condition.
The following day Peggy and Robert arrive at the boarding school where they settle into the cosy chalet opposite the main school building and soon after Robert informs her that his boss – schoolmaster Mr. Carmichael (Peter Cushing) and his wife Molly (Joan Collins) expecte the couple for dinner. However, Peggy finds herself attacked again by the mysterious figure with the prosthetic hand and suffers another breakdown. Robert cancels dinner with the Carmichaels under the pretence that his wife suffers from a severe headache. The next day Peggy decides to explore the school building and hears voices of its male pupils chatting away but cannot see as much as one pupil in the entire building. Instead, she makes the acquaintance of schoolmaster Carmichael who shows her about the building. During an outing to massive park-land which belongs to the Carmichaels, Robert and Peggy bump into Molly – straight away Peggy senses that Molly doesn’t really like her despite Robert assuring her otherwise. When Robert is called away to a meeting in central London he leaves a loaded rifle for Peggy in the case of another attack and sure enough that very same evening the strange intruder arrives again – only this time perfectly normally through the front door and in the shape of schoolmaster Michael, who happens to have a prosthetic arm! It would be too easy to conclude that he is Peggy’s assailant and it’s from here on that the plot takes a rather barmy if not entirely unexpected twist… Some things don’t quite add up but it doesn’t distract from the overall entertaining suspense.
This really is Judy Geeson’s film who gives a fine performance as the disturbed young woman, while Peter Cushing is Peter Cushing: always worth his salt! Joan Collins doesn’t have that much of a part though in her few scenes she is her usual bitchy self while Ralph Bates is a fine counterpart to Geeson.
Once again the disc offers interesting bonus material.