6.7/10
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Nightmare (1964)

Not Rated | | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 17 June 1964 (USA)
Janet is a young student at a private school; her nights are troubled by horrible dreams in which she sees her mother, who is in fact locked in an insane asylum, haunting her. Expelled ... See full summary »

Director:

Freddie Francis

Writer:

Jimmy Sangster
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
David Knight David Knight ... Henry Baxter
Moira Redmond ... Grace Maddox
Jennie Linden ... Janet
Brenda Bruce ... Mary Lewis
George A. Cooper ... John
Clytie Jessop ... Woman in White
Irene Richmond Irene Richmond ... Mrs. Gibbs
John Welsh ... Doctor
Timothy Bateson ... Barman
Elizabeth Dear ... Janet as a Child
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Storyline

Janet is a young student at a private school; her nights are troubled by horrible dreams in which she sees her mother, who is in fact locked in an insane asylum, haunting her. Expelled because of her persistent nightmares, Janet is sent home where the nightmares continue. Written by Wheeler Winston Dixon

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

THREE SHOCKING MURDERS...did she DREAM them? ...or DO them? See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 June 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cilada Diabólica See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hammer Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The BFI has the only 35mm print in the UK. See more »

Connections

Remake of Pesadilla (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent Gothic horror!

British director Freddie Francis is nowadays best known for his excellent work as a cinematographer in films such as "Sons and Lovers" (1960), "The Elephant Man" (1980), "Glory" (1989) and "The Straight Story" (1999); but in the 60s, he directed several horror films for the two most important horror films production companies in the United Kingdom: Hammer and Amicus. While his career as a director looks uneven when compared to his successful work as a cinematographer, he managed to craft a few little gems for both companies that have slowly become cult classics. Among them, "Nightmare" comes up as one of his best, an elegant Gothic horror that tells a story about madness, death, and nightmares.

The film is the story of Janet (Jennie Linden), a young student at a private school, who by nights is haunted by horrible nightmares about her insane mother, who is currently locked in an asylum. As the nightmares become more constant, she is sent back home for the winter in order to rest a while. But the nightmares keep haunting Janet's dreams and soon she becomes more and more convinced that somehow she has inherited her mother's insanity despite the efforts of her guardian Henry (David Knight) and her nurse Grace (Moira Redmond) to help her.

Written by another Hammer regular, Jimmy Sangster (who wrote the Hammer classics "Curse of Frankenstein" and "Dracula"), the plot is a terrific thriller with horror elements that adds psychological themes to the story, always questioning reality as Janet watches it. The suspense and the mystery are the key factors of the plot and Sangster handles both elements with excellent care and the whole setting (an old house during a winter) enhances the feeling of paranoia and madness the characters suffer. Some critics have pointed out that the film somehow loses steam by the second half, and while in my opinion this is relatively true to an extent, I think this doesn't really do any harm and it's still a wonderfully developed mystery.

"Nightmare" is visually a Hammer film that went against the conceptions of the so-called "Hammer style" and modernized their concept of Gothic horror by setting the film in contemporary times. The claustrophobic location looks wonderful in the beautiful black and white photography (another move away the "Hammer style") and Francis shows why he has a reputation as cinematographer. His eye for the visual is perfect and gives a whole new dimension to the "old dark house" element so common in Gothic horror. The style of the film looks like an enhanced version of his previous "Paranoiac", as here the mix of suspense, Gothic horror and British melodrama works in a near-perfect way.

The cast is entirely made up of non-Hammer regulars, which gave the film a fresh face and it really works. Jennie Linden was a last-minute choice for the role of Janet, and we can say that they got lucky with her, as her performance is top-notch and frightening believable. Moira Redmon is also superb, giving her character, the nurse Grace an aura of mystery that is both appealing and haunting. David Knight is not as lucky although fortunately, he does not appear too much in the film. Totally the opposite are the cases of George A. Cooper and Irene Richmond, who give remarkable performances in such a sadly limited screen time.

"Nightmare" is an excellent thriller that suffers from some small minor flaws that hurt the film a bit. The sudden division of the film in two parts works very well as an interesting plot device, but the second part of the film is a bit harder to follow as the change comes a bit too sudden (although in general it's still pretty good). Another minor complain (well, not exactly a complain), is that Francis at times puts a lot of emphasis on the atmosphere and style over the plot, although this is never too distracting.

Certainly Hammer will always be known for their excellent versions of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Werewolf, but this little film is as good as those and maybe even more. "Nightmare" is part of that line of underrated classics that Hammer made and that hopefully will receive more appreciation now that they are finally available. 9/10. An excellent thriller!


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