I’ve seen my share of cannibal films over the years, but none seemed to play out quite like this one. Although it started out like a confusing mess, Pete Walker’s Frightmare ultimately turned out to be a rather cohesive, well-thought-out story.
The film starts off in black and white, in 1957, where two individuals are being sentenced to time in a mental institution. Fast forward a bit, now in color, we meet the rest of the cast that makes up the meat of the story… no pun intended. Deborah Fairfax has a good performance as Jackie, the older sister and guardian of the teenage rebel, Debbie. Kim Butcher’s Debbie is a 15 year old who loves causing trouble any chance she gets. As psychologist, Graham (Paul Greenwood), begins dating Jackie and learning more about Debbie, he learns that there is more to Debbie’s outbursts than just teenage angst.
Instead of the savage jungle people us horror fans have become accustomed to in films like Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox, the pathological cannibal in Pete Walker’s 1974 British film is an old woman who has a rather motherly appearance about her. The heinous crimes performed by motherly figure, Dorothy, may not seem like much compared to today’s gore standards, but I can imagine them causing quite a ruckus when the film was original released.
Although Frightmare plays out rather slowly, it is still an enjoyable watch. If you are looking for a film that takes some time to connect all the dots, but still has some shock value, give this one a shot. I give it 3 tarot cards out of 5.