Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on July 9th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1970
Director: Freddie Francis
Writer: Brian Comport
Cast: Vanessa Howard, Michael Bryant, Ursula Howells, Pat Heywood, Howard Trevor, Robert Swann, Imogen Hassall, Michael Ripper, Hugh Armstrong
DVD released: July 12th, 2010
Approximate running time: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Odeon Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £14.99
Meet Sonny (Howard Trevor) and Girly (Vanessa Howard) a pair of sociopathic siblings that enjoy dressing up younger than their years, in school uniform, and enticing down-on-their-luck strangers to come back home with them to meet their equally unbalanced Mumsy (Ursula Howells) and Nanny (Pat Heywood). These ‘new friends’ are welcomed into the family’s sprawling, decaying mansion estate with open arms and all the cakes they can eat – but they have to abide by the rules and play the games otherwise they get ‘sent to the angels’. The latest ‘new friend’ (Michael Bryant) is on the run from the police after the accidental death of his girlfriend and thus has no choice but to try and conform to the rules of the family for fear they might have him arrested. The longer he stays however the more he discovers just how lethally loopy this particular family are and he decides to start playing Mumsy, Nanny and Girly off one another in his own little game of seduction and jealousy. A game which turns out to be more dangerous than he could have anticipated.
Directed by Freddie Francis, a veteran of several Hammer flicks and an Academy Award-winning cinematographer to boot, this is a forgotten little classic of British horror/thriller cinema. Adapted from a play by Maisie Mosco and as such it’s a well written, unpredictable, blackly comic affair that satirizes upper class traditional English society as well as the horror genre itself. Playing deftly with the subjectivity of morality and the fragility of sanity it’s also great fun to watch and that’s quite an achievement given it’s subject matter. Almost pioneering in it’s portrayal of a family of psychopaths that lure victims into their home with murderous intentions. Look out for a ‘Heeeeere’s Sonny’ axe through the door moment that surely must have inspired Kubrick’s scene in The Shining a decade later! For all it’s originality however one can’t help but think of Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, especially with the ‘new friends’ forced to wear the school blazer. Despite it’s grisly subject matter it’s not a gory affair, the horrors are kept offscreen for the most part and the film is all the better for it. The acting is excellent throughout with Ursula Howells the standout as the batshit crazy matriarch of the family and Vanessa Howard coming a close second as wide-eyed lolita-like Girly – it’s sad to see that she didn’t pursue a career in acting after this movie.
‘Digitally Remastered’ 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen picture (transferred in HD from the original negative) looks excellent despite some minimal print damage. Good detail, colors are strong and vivid, excellent contrast levels. The ‘Restored Original’ mono audio track is clean and clear, with the odd little soundtrack coming through perfectly.
Extras include an original theatrical trailer, Spanish trailer, TV spot, alternate US title sequence, stills gallery and bonus trailers for Goodbye Gemini, Say Hello To Yesterday, The Asphyx, Blood On Satan’s Claw, Repulsion and Cul-de-sac.