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Frightmare – 6

Director – Pete Walker

Cast – Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax, Paul Greenwood, Kim Butcher, Fiona Curzon, Jon Yule

Release Year – 1974

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Frightmare, later titled Cover Up, is an exploitation film that I expected good results from given its R rating and my love for 70s horror. Cannibal films are one of my most-enjoyed horror sub-genres thanks to the additional taboo elements that play into such flicks, and Frightmare gives us a pretty haunting cannibal tale for its time. With good horror here and there this effort does provide some good exploitation madness, but in the end I expected much more for a film with its R rating and the potential it harnessed.

After being deemed “cured” of their cannibalistic ways, Edmund and Dorothy Yates are released after spending 15 years in an insane asylum. Despite their treatments and the reassurances from officials that they would not be released with any doubts of them being cured, Dorothy succumbs to her old demons and gains the attention of an investigating psychologist close to breaking the secret hidden within the Yates family.

From the get-go this piece bleeds “exploitation”, giving me a sense early on that I would enjoy this effort. The film opens with the original sentencing of the Yates couple for their cannibalistic crimes, then fast forwarding 15 years later and introducing more characters. The story equally follows Jackie, Edmund’s daughter from a previous marriage, and the troubled teen Debbie, Dorothy’s daughter, who is now beginning to feel the same murderous demons her mother is going through. Jackie finds herself covering for her younger stepsister’s crimes, crimes that Jackie is not fully informed on the severity of, and as tensions between the two grow a psychologist, Graham, is brought in to try and counsel the troubled daughter. It is Graham’s investigation into the cause Debbie’s delinquency that leads him to Dorothy Yates (the main cause of the family’s cannibalism) and a shocking conclusion to the story. I really felt that this storyline could have provided more to the audience. Often times I found the story a bit bland and too simple for its subject matter, rarely giving us worthwhile scenes of cannibalism and only a few murders as well. Given the film’s R rating I really did expect more in regards to the horror, which ultimately came on only a few occasions aside from the flick’s shocking climax sure to leave a sour taste in the mouths of those seeking a happy ending.

Director Peter Walker did an OK job executing this one, giving us good atmosphere but suffering in his execution of the horror at times. It could have been that the story held his horror back, but with what little horror we were given I felt that the gore and brutality should have been upped a few levels. He gets good performances from his main actors, especially the from Rupert Davies and Sheila Keith as the Yates couple, but ultimately he could not do enough to save this effort from a storyline that not only held it back but did not give us much to indulge into in the first place.

Overall, Frightmare is a decent exploitation piece that should have given more and been much better than it was. The horror is good at times but comes too seldom for someone seeking an exciting experience, so this is one watch I would reserve for a night when nothing better is available.

Rating: 6/10

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