Review: "Frightmare aka Cover Up" (1974, England)
Movies like this are why I love the Brits and, in particular, their 60's and 70's horror. I can recall seeing that poster art on the cover at the video store growing up and being intrigued by that batshit crazy looking Granny and her drill. The art was a little on the cheesy side but also genuinely unsettling. (Side note: thanks again, Amazon Prime, for having a lot of those "off the beaten path" kind of films)
Edmund and Dorothy Yates are sentenced to an insane asylum for "atrocious" crimes they committed. There are hints of murder and cannibalism. The judge tells you this at the beginning of the film, along with the admonishment that they should receive the death penalty....however they are both clearly insane. It's starkly done in black and white, flashback style. Very classy.
Now they're out and they're all better. Why don't I believe that? Their stepdaughter, Jackie, is visiting them regularly and bringing her disturbed mother (a chilling Sheila Keith, who is renowned in England as a genre legend) some kind of wrapped parcels on a regular schedule to "keep the sickness at bay". Her father is a chauffeur and Mum has a lot of free time on her hands. Once it's revealed that Mum has started bringing folks to the cottage for tarot readings you know this can't be going good places for these poor bastards.
Counterbalancing the story is Debbie, the biological daughter of Edmund and Cannibal Dorothy. She is a hot, young teen who is running with the wrong crowd and behaving very strangely. Jackie cannot control her, and (even worse) now she wants to know more about her parents!
I strive to keep my reviews fairly short and spoiler free, so I really must stop right there, but there is so much to love about this movie. The shock of the ending is fantastic. Sheila Keith is first-rate as the granny who's totally insane. There isn't one scene that she is in that she doesn't draw your eye....unless young Debbie is there. She's equally nutty and also quite pleasing to the eye. The Brits do know how to "do" sexy without being smutty in the slightest.
It's all just so crisp, well shot and damned proper that when the gore comes (and there is plenty there) it is made all the more shocking by contrast. It's never over the top, but it doesn't have to be. Therein lies the beauty of classic horror that so many folks today can't appreciate or even wrap their head around. I love gore, tits & ass, shitty dialogue, & questionable decisions as much as the next red-blooded American horror fan, but there is something to be said for subtlety and contrast. It's a lost art.
This isn't a Hammer Studios film, but you can feel the effect that Hammer had on all of British horror in the 60's and 70's. If your palate is a little more refined and you'd to try something vintage then step on up to Frightmare. It's a solid 8/10.