Movie Review: Fear in the Night (1972)

If you want to know what the Fear in the Night (1972) DVD cover looks like, this is it. If you want to know if the movie is any good, you need to read my Fear in the Night movie review.Fear in the Night is a British horror movie made by Hammer Films and released in 1972. If you are looking for information about Dynasty of Fear, this Fear in the Night review will tell you what you need to know. Dynasty of Fear is an alternative name for the same movie. It’s also known as Honeymoon of Fear.

Judy Geeson stars as Peggy Heller, a 22-year-old woman who—after a brief four-month romance—has just married the man of her dreams. His name is Robert (Ralph Bates) and he’s a teacher who works at a private school for boys.

In the first scene Peggy, who works as a housekeeper, is busy packing her bags and getting ready to leave the home of her employer, Mrs Beamish. Robert will be picking her up the following morning. He can’t come sooner because he has to supervise the school’s end of term feast. Busy as he is, Robert still manages to find time to make a quick phone call to his new bride.

After Peggy hangs up the phone she decides to take a bath and is attacked from behind by an unseen assailant. She puts up a struggle and manages to rip off her attacker’s prosthetic arm. The arm falls to the floor. It’s the last thing she sees before passing out.

When Peggy awakes she finds Mrs Beamish and a doctor at her bedside, but neither of them believes she has been attacked. Peggy has recently recovered from a mental breakdown so they think the incident was a figment of her imagination. Even if nobody believes her story, Peggy consoles herself with the thought that she will be gone in the morning and can leave her troubles behind her. Dream on Peg.

Alan Bates and Judy Geeson Star in Fear in the Night(1972)

The school is situated in remote location in the countryside and the headmaster Mr Carmichael (Peter Cushing) has given the Hellers a nice little cottage next to the school. The headmaster and his wife live in a private wing behind the main building but, with all the boys on holiday and Robert spending so much of his time running errands for the headmaster, poor Peggy has to spend a lot of time on her own.

A nice little cottage, singing birds, and plenty of fresh air; it doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Peggy has always dreamed of a life in the country. Unfortunately, the dream soon turns into a nightmare. On her first night at the cottage, Peggy notices a strange figure lurking outside the school. Robert assures her there is nobody there but explains that, if she did see anyone, it was probably only the headmaster, who has a habit of wandering around the school at night.

On her second day at the School, Peggy decides to do a little exploring on her own and runs into the headmaster, who offers to give her a guided tour. Carmichael is a stern-looking man, but he seems to be amicable enough. A little creepy perhaps, but harmless. He is also armless, but Peggy fails to notice that.

Judy Geeson and Peter Cushing in Fear in the Night(1972)

Later the same day, Peggy meets the headmaster’s wife Molly (Joan Collins) for the first time. It doesn’t take Jenny long to realise Molly is a Grade-A bitch and it’s apparent right from the start that, although they may be willing to go through the motions, these two ladies are never going to be friends.

Peggy has other things to worry about though. The one-armed man has already attacked her again. This time in the cottage. Sadly, Robert fails to offer her much in the way of support. He’s aware of her previous condition and, just like Mrs Beamish, he thinks the attack was just a figment of Peggy’s imagination. Not surprisingly given the circumstances, it’s not long before the poor girl appears to be headed for another breakdown.

Fear in the Night probably contains more of the elements associated with a thriller than a horror movie, but the school is a suitably creepy setting and it becomes apparent fairly early on in the movie that there is something not quite right about the school and its headmaster. Even for non-term-time, the school is unusually clean and the boys—if there are any boys—have left behind very little evidence of their residence at the school.

Judy Geeson and Joan Collins in a scene from Fear in the Night(1972)

Peter Cushing was a good choice for the role of the headmaster, and Joan Collins displays her natural talent for playing the bitch, but you might be surprised to learn neither one of them has much screen time. Ralph Bates gets to spend a little more time in front of the camera but, all in all, Fear in the Night is a movie for Judy Geeson fans and she does a good job of bringing her character to life. She probably shines her brightest though, in the scenes were Peggy seems to be bordering on another breakdown.

If this review has piqued your curiosity and you decide to watch Fear in the Night, you’ll feel plenty of suspense, and possibly a few chills. However, if you are looking for high action and plenty of thrills you will probably be disappointed. Fear in the Night has a much slower pace than modern movies and, it has to be said, it ends with more of a fizzle than a bang. All the loose ends are tied up, though, and everything makes sense. Fear in the Night is a good movie and I’m going to end this review by saying I would happily watch it again. Give it a chance and you may find you enjoy it enough to watch it more than once too. Especially if you are a Judy Geeson Fan.

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