Terrifying British thriller written by the brilliant Brian Clemens
"File It Under Fear," a truly frightening and highly original British thriller penned for TV by the estimable (and underrated, if not unknown) Brian Clemens, made its U.S. debut as an entry in the ABC network's late-nite series of thrillers wherein, at 11:30 PM every weeknight, American viewers were treated to a 90-minute mystery designed to woo viewers away from NBC's the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Unfortunately, this brave, adventurous undertaking lasted only one season (low ratings and high-production costs spelled doom from the start). Nevertheless, I fondly re-call the high-quality and Grade-A sheen of the entire series, most of the tele-films British (though not all), and many of them written by Brian Clemens (an unsung "master of suspense" whose screenplays for such theatrically-released gems as "See No Evil" and "And Soon the Darkness" sent chills pulsating through movie-goers spines in the early '70s, the same era of "File it Under Fear"). The deceptively simple set-up involves an attractive young woman who spends her days working in the local library of an unnamed British village, and spends her evenings living with her crotchety mother whose taste for the macabre goes into overdrive when the village is plagued by the grisly murders of several young women. The suspects are plentiful, from the eccentric group of loners who congregate in the creepy Victorian library to while away the time, and chatter about the gruesome goings-on, and the lady-in-peril's circle of equally sinister acquaintances. Circumstantial evidence leads the heroine to fear that the killer is a handsome, enigmatic young American, but during a harrowing night when she is locked in the library, alone and defenseless and stalked by the unknown psychopath, the identity of the killer is at last revealed--amidst the crashing of bookshelves and screams of horror. This forgotten little gem is blessed with a superb cast, marvelously eerie settings, and, of course, Mr. Clemens deviously delicious screenplay. I taped this film on when the entire series was syndicated to American t.v. (in the late '70s). But my tape has long disappeared, as well as, I regret, has "File It Under Fear." As original and creepy as anything Hitchcock ever conjured up, "File It Under Fear" has stayed in my mind to this day. It is truly one of the most unsettling, nerve-needling and gleefully suspenseful thrillers ever made.
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