Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Nightmare (1964)

Nightmare is one of Hammer’s lesser known movies, a 1964 black-and-white contemporary chiller about madness. A girl, Janet, has witnessed her insane mother’s murder of her father, and fears she will inherit her mother’s madness. She is sent home from boarding school when her nightmares start to get out of control. Her guardian has found a nurse/companion for her, but the nightmares keep getting worse, and she starts seeing disturbing visions when she’s awake as well. To say anything more would be to risk spoilers. Freddie Francis does a terrific job as director (as always), and the movie looks sensational. The cast does not include the usual familiar faces from Hammer films, but they do a fine job. Jennie Linden is extremely good as Janet. The screenplay (by Jimmy Sangster) has as many twists and turns as you could possibly hope for. And although at times it’s far-fetched the movie is so well done that it’s not difficult to maintain the suspension of disbelief. There’s very little gore, but this is quite a chilling movie and delivers the goods without any need for gore. It’s impossible not to share the protagonist’s growing terror and the awful fear of madness. In all it’s a thoroughly enjoyable superbly crafted film. Definitely one of Hammer’s forgotten gems, and highly recommended.

The transfer on the Universal Franchise Collection Hammer Horror boxed set is magnificent. If you don’t have this set, buy it now. No extras, just eight great movies at a ridiculously cheap price.

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