FRIGHTMARE (1974)
posted 00/00/2011

Directed by:
Pete Walker

Starring:
Rupert Davies ... Edmund Yates
Sheila Keith ... Dorothy Yates
Deborah Fairfax ... Jackie
Paul Greenwood ... Graham

Country: UK
Runtime: 88 min
AKA: Cover Up
     
         
   

Believe it or not, not all cannibal films are set in the jungle. This one takes place in London and has nothing to do with half naked people, animal torture or nosy reporters. Pete Walker (Die Screaming, Marianne, House of Whipcord) gives us a simple, sober look into the life of an elderly woman, her lust for human flesh and the discord it creates within the family.

Dorothy Yates is sent to a mental institution in 1957, along with her husband Edmond, for having murdered and eaten a half dozen people. Her husband is madly in love with her and feigns insanity in order to be locked away with his wife. He had no real role in the grisly events and was more of an enabler for Dorothy. She worked in a carnival, as a fortune teller, but I’m afraid "your going to be hit over the head, chewed and digested" wasn’t exactly the type of news people wanted to hear.

The Yates had two children. Jackie was Edmond’s daughter from a previous marriage and Debbie was the couple’s biological child. Jackie knows the family’s fucked up secret. Deb was sent to an orphanage and knows nothing. Today she lives with Jackie, is 15 years old, and begins to inquire about her birth parents. Apparently the timing is perfect because Dorothy and her husband have just been certified sane (oh yeah right!) and released into society. Deb is quite a delinquent, spending her evenings with a biker gang, hanging around pubs, smoking and drinking. Jackie begins dating Graham, a psychiatrist, who wants to help in disciplining Deb but starts to also investigate the family’s less than pleasant past. Dorothy and her husband are now living in an out-of-the-way farm somewhere. Jackie drops by (always in the middle of the night, like 2:30am) from time to time and delivers her mother care packages of raw animal meat. I don’t understand the secrecy and why can’t Edmond just go to the butcher himself?

It is not long before Dorothy is up to her old games. While her husband is away she breaks out the tarot cards and kills her unsuspecting clients. She keeps bodies hidden under hay in the shed for meals and snack times. Her daughter Deb is up to no good, I mean she’s outright naughty. She beats a man to death and it’s implied she might be a cannibal too. Deb has somehow tracked down her parents and starts to hang with her mom. Come on now[!], she’s fifteen and Google hadn’t been invented yet. Jackie finds her sister’s bloody jacket and is lured to the Yates farmhouse after Deb runs away.

In the final act we have Edmond scratching his head in disbelief after finding his wife’s leftover meals. For God’s sake, they certified her sane I tell you “lol“! Graham’s snooping leads to the farmhouse and his death there. Jackie is lured to the place as well and the film ends when she’s trapped in a room with her mother and Deb harboring murderous thoughts. Graham’s bloody corpse on the table and the meat clever in Deb’s hand was a dead giveaway. Edmond has a face of "oh my god, here we go again".

The narrative is bloody simple and there wasn’t much thrill in the story to keep me entertained. Although not boring, the whole picture feels stale, like week old bread crumbs under the fridge. Dorothy is a scary old lady but her husband’s blind love for her, even over his own daughter’s life, is truly disturbing. These are the type of people (except Jackie) I can expect to be sitting in hell somewhere playing poker with Ed Gein and Charlie Manson. I highly suggest you find yourself the KINO/Redemption BluRay because it has some nice featuretes!

- Jorge Antonio Lopez

 

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