Night of Fear (1972)

This, Inn of the Damned and Razorback are the only films out of the whole Ozploitation series I’ve seen before; I see no need for a fresh review of the latter, but will consider the other two, neither of which I’ve seen in a few years. This began life as a pilot for a TV series called Fright (which title it retains in the opening credits. Curious too about it being in colour when we didn’t actually have colour TV here then; I presume overseas sales were envisaged). Instead of TV, it went to cinemas (DVD widescreen framing suggests it might even have been made with cinema showing in mind) despite the best efforts of the film board, who banned it before grudgingly giving it an R rating on appeal. What we have is almost certainly Australia’s first psycho killer movie (think of it as Kuringai National Park Axe Massacre or something, there’s a surprisingly similar vibe though it predates Leatherface by two years), in which a woman crashes her car and is pursued by said psycho killer, a chap with a fondness for rats. That really is about it (the thing is almost totally dialogue-free too). Interesting that the film wasn’t padded out to feature length for cinemas (it’s only 54 minutes long) but it probably wouldn’t stand up to it anyway. Director Terry Bourke is remembered in the DVD commentary with somewhat mixed affection; not all of his stunts (particularly where the rats were involved in the climax) were appreciated by cast and crew. But he produced an effective enough bit of work here on what must’ve been a piss-poor budget, with a weirdly unpleasant feel hanging over the whole thing. Fucked if I can envisage how Bourke ever imagined this would actually play on TV here in 1972, though.

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