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Home | Film Review: Frightmare (1974)

Film Review: Frightmare (1974)


Jackie’s father and stepmother have just been released from the insane asylum after a fifteen year stint there. It seems that Dorothy (the stepmother) has the bad habit of killing people and eating them while her husband did his best to hide her actions from others. The asylum claims that they are both “cured” of their mental problems, so why is it Dorothy continues on with her murderous and cannibalistic ways? As the bodies begin to pile up Jackie must decide if she should stop her stepmother before she kills again or look the other way like her father does.


I wasn’t familiar with this movie at all so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I started watching it. It starts out very slow (maybe a little too slow for my taste) but picks up a little bit (but not much) toward the middle. It is more of a thriller in the same vein as Die Sister, Die!, Blood Mania, Night of Bloody Terror, and countless other films that were released in the 60’s and 70’s, and isn’t exactly what I would consider a horror film. Some people out there (like my mom, for example) prefer movies like this one over your typical all-out horror film as they are a little more realistic, but I am not one of them. While I wouldn’t say that Frightmare was a bad movie and will admit that it did have a few moments that I enjoyed, overall I just wasn’t that impressed by it. I found it to be pretty forgettable and there wasn’t really anything special about it that made it stand out from a ton of other similar movies.

The majority of the time that I was watching it I couldn’t help but just feel bored to tears. As I said earlier, it moves at a snail’s pace and there isn’t a great deal of action taking place for over half of the movie. There are way too many scenes of people talking going on and when things finally do start happening it is nothing to get excited about. We know that Dorothy is batsh*t crazy, so why does the movie feel the need to keep telling us this instead of showing her chopping people up and eating them? I think that the plot is actually quite awesome and had potential to rule, but it is bogged down by too many scenes filled with excessive dialogue where nothing important or relevant takes place. I think that if the filmmakers had taken out some of the more redundant scenes (and there are a lot of them) where Jackie and her father or Jackie and her boyfriend discuss Dorothy’s past and replaced them with ones that were more action-oriented (such as some good, gory death scenes) this movie would have turned out a lot better (and more interesting) than it did.

I also had a hard time caring about any of the characters. Jackie (Debra Fairfax) is hot and is fun to look at, but she is also incredibly stupid as well. Her stepsister Debbie is also easy on the eyes but is annoying as hell (her voice could shatter glass and her constant chomping on her gum grated on my nerves). Edmund is probably the worst father in the history of film as not only does he keep covering up the murders Dorothy keeps committing, but he puts Jackie in danger at one point and ultimately sides with his deranged wife over his own daughter. Dorothy is an okay character but I had a lot of trouble accepting that such a frail older woman could easily overpower and kill people half her age (then again there is one character that basically just stands there and lets her impale her with a red-hot poker while she watches, putting up no fight whatsoever in the process). She is a creepy old broad but I really didn’t find her to be intimidating at all. Overall the movie suffers from a lack of good characters and I didn’t care if any of them lived or died to be honest.

While some people may love it, Frightmare just wasn’t for me. It had a couple of things going for it (such as a slight twist at one point and a very cool downer ending) but I had a lot of trouble getting into it. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great at the same time. Check it out if you are in the mood for a suspense/thriller, but keep in mind that it moves at an incredibly slow pace at times and none of the death scenes are anything special. Give it a shot and make up your own mind about it though, you may end up really enjoying it.

Frightmare (1974)

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