Fear in the Night (1972 film)

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Fear in the Night
Fear in the Night poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jimmy Sangster
Produced by Jimmy Sangster
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Michael Syson
Starring Judy Geeson
Joan Collins
Peter Cushing
Music by John McCabe
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Edited by Peter Weatherly
Release dates
  • July 9, 1972 (1972-07-09) (UK)
  • October 18, 1974 (1974-10-18) (US)
Running time
94 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget ₤141,000[1]

Fear in the Night (also known as Dynasty of Fear and Honeymoon of Fear[2]) is a 1972 British horror and thriller film directed by Jimmy Sangster and produced by Hammer Film Productions. It was written by Sangster and Michael Syston, produced by Sangster and stars Judy Geeson, Joan Collins and Peter Cushing. In the United States it was released as part of a double bill with Demons of the Mind.[3]


Peggy (Judy Geeson), an unassuming twenty-two year old caregiver, has recently married Robert Heller (Ralph Bates), and is scheduled to move with him to a secluded boys' boarding school south of London for his work. The night before she is to meet Robert to leave the city, she is attacked in her home by a one-armed man with a prosthetic hand who strangles her until she falls unconscious. Rattled by the attack, she leaves with Robert the following morning to the boarding school, which is run by headmaster Michael Carmichael (Peter Cushing).

Robert and Peggy arrive at the school, and settle into their chalet across the road from the main school building. They make plans to meet the Carmichaels for dinner that evening, but Peggy is again attacked inside the chalet, and Robert worries for her mental state. The next day, as Peggy explores the empty school, she hears the voices of boys chatting, but finds the classrooms to be mysteriously empty. She runs into the headmaster Michael, who shows her the building.

Later, Peggy and Robert go for a drive around the sprawling property, where they meet the headmaster's wife, Molly (Joan Collins), who is standoffish toward Peggy. That evening, Robert leaves for a meeting in London, and Peggy becomes nervous that someone else is in the chalet, hearing odd noises, and she arms herself with a shotgun. She descends the staircase, and sees Michael entering through the front door, and notices that he has a prosthetic arm; panicked, she shoots him, and flees the chalet, but he continues to pursue her. She runs into the school, where she hears a chorus of racket and boys' voices echoing through the halls. Michael corners her in an upstairs dormitory, and she shoots at him again, but he is unresponsive to the gunfire. He approaches her, and she faints.

The following day, Robert returns, finding Peggy in a nearly catatonic state inside the school, and a pool of blood in the hallway. He questions her about what happened, but she says she cannot remember. Robert explains to Peggy that he had originally met Michael when he was working in a hospital as a medical student; the boarding school had nearly burned to the ground in an accident years prior, and, devastated, Michael returned to the property, setting up recordings of boys' laughter and classroom lectures over the building's intercoms to recreate the feeling of the school's former glory days.

That night, Robert meets with Molly; it is revealed that the two are having an affair, and that Robert married the mentally-fragile Peggy in order to coax her into murdering Michael out of fear for her life. Peggy stumbles in on their meeting, and Robert demands she reveal where Michael's body is. Molly goes to search for him, and shortly after the sound of bells echoes throughout the school. Robert binds Peggy's arms and brings her into the main hall of the school, where Michael's voice comes over the intercom. He reveals that he knew of Robert and Molly's plot to have him killed, and that he had loaded the shotgun in the chalet with blanks. Robert loads the shotgun with bullets, and shoots at what he believes to be Michael hiding under a sheet covering a couch. When he lifts the sheet, however, he reveals Molly's dead body, bound and gagged.

Robert storms out of the school with Peggy, and attempts to hang her from the tree outside in a staged suicide, but is attacked by Michael. The next morning, two policeman arrive, saying they received a call from Michael. Peggy tells them he's inside the school, and that a new term is beginning. One of the police officers tells her that the school has been shut down for years, and suddenly the sound of a boys' choir begins emanating from the building. In the tree behind the school, Robert's dead body hangs from a noose.



Fear in the Night derived from a script written by Jimmy Sangster called Brainstorm that was originally developed for Universal Pictures in 1963.[4] The film had been scheduled to go into production several times: first in Autumn 1964, then "tentatively" in 1965.[4] In 1967 he retitled the film The Claw.[4] It was not until 1971 that the script was altered by Sangster and co-writer Michael Syson and turned into Fear in the Night.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Time Out called the film "one of those neatly constructed but slightly mechanical psycho-thrillers which make you feel as if someone is pushing buttons connected to electrodes in your brain", but that "Hammer fans will soon recognise the plot as a thinly disguised reworking of A Taste of Fear (sic)".[5]


  1. ^ Tom Johnson and Deborah Del Vecchio, Hammer Films: An Exhaustive Filmography, McFarland, 1996 p355
  2. ^ Neame, Christopher. Rungs on a Ladder: Hammer Films Seen Through a Soft Gauze. The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series 1. Scarecrow Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0810847354. 
  3. ^ McFarlane 2005, p. 172–173.
  4. ^ a b c d Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 65.
  5. ^ "Fear in the Night Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Time Out. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  • McFarlane, Brian (2005). The Cinema of Britain and Ireland. Wallflower Press. 
  • Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (September 2007). "Taste of Fear". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films (Limited ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 1 84576 185 5. 

External links[edit]