CONTAINS SOME PRETTY BIG SPOILERS, IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED ANY HORROR OR SUSPENSE MOVIES IN THE LAST FORTY YEARS
Funny thing, history. These days, a horror movie about a babysitter terrorised by an escaped psychopath in a spooky country house sounds unbelievably hokey as we've seen it all before, so often and not always particularly well. But as a shiny new X-rated release in 1971, it must have seemed as innovative and shockingly effective as the original King Kong's stop-motion effects work or the rubber monster suits from Patrick Troughton's tenure as Doctor Who.
Peter Collinson's Fright is now getting on for forty years old but only in the last few weeks has it received a British DVD release, and it's got a fantastic cast which not only includes George Cole AND Dennis Waterman but more importantly is headed by Susan George, turning up at the scary old house of Cole and Honor Blackman on a dark and stormy night to babysit a boy called Tara (incidentally the director's own son). There's someone prowling around outside, strange noises coming from the garden - could it be Dennis Waterman as her idiot boyfriend desperate for some action and armed with a single-minded obsessesion with divesting her of her virginity? She chucks him out (is there someone else out there?) and sits watching Hammer's Plague Of The Zombies on TV. Meanwhile, there's been an escape at the institution.....
Yes, we have now seen it all before but we hadn't back then - we wouldn't see John Carpenter's Halloween and the subsequent rash of slasher pictures for several years yet. The first half is fairly slow-burning (see last year's The House Of The Devil by Ti West) and the second half becomes a siege movie with the nutter indoors and the police (including Trigger from Only Fools And Horses!) outside. Seeing it now, almost as a historical document but in the light of a hundred other movies from When A Stranger Calls to Babysitter Wanted, it's almost quaint. Still, it's interesting and I rather enjoyed it. But I believe I'd have absolutely loved it at the time (except I wouldn't have been allowed to see it, what with it being an X and me being seven years old).