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Nightmare (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Nightmare (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: March 15th, 2022.
    Director: Freddie Francis
    Cast: David Knight, Moira Redmond, Jennie Linden, Brenda Bruce
    Year: 1964
    Purchase From Amazon

    Nightmare – Movie Review:

    Directed by Freddie Francis from a script by Jimmy Sangster, Hammer Films’ 1964 psychological thriller, Nightmare, introduces us to a young woman named Janet (Jennie Linden) who, as a child, was witness to her mother snapping and murdering her father in cold blood. As you’d imagine, this left a scar on Janet, and six years later, as she’s grown into an teenager, she’s been plagued by horrible nightmares, bad dreams so strong that they’ve got her questioning her own sanity and wondering if she’ll wind up institutionalized like her mother was.

    Janet’s guardian growing up was kindly Henry Baxter (David Knight) and when Janet’s mental state starts to fray, she and her teacher, Miss Lewis (Brenda Bruce) head to Henry’s home to relax. Concerned about his ward, Henry hires a woman named Grace (Moira Redmond) to help out and try to ease her mind. Henry’s chauffer, John (George A. Cooper) and his maid, Mrs. Gibbs (Irene Richmond) are around as well. After some times at Henry’s, however, Janet’s mental state goes from bad to worse and she starts having very vivid dreams about a woman in white (Clytie Jessop) with a nasty scar on her face roaming the antiquated home. Is it the massive, eerie old home having this effect on her, is she really starting to snap just as her mother did or is there something else entirely responsible for this?

    There’s quite a bit more to the story than that but we’ll leave the synopsis as is, because the film is a lot more enjoyable as a first time watch if you don’t know the different twists and turns that it takes in its later half. Beautifully shot in stark black and white by cinematographer John Wilcox and set to a pretty decent score from composer Don Banks, this, like most Hammer Films productions, was made on a modest budget but it looks great on the screen. The black and white cinematography enhances the eerie, shadowy interiors of Henry’s creepy old house and Nightmare winds up being a very atmospheric looking film with pretty solid production values.

    As to the acting, Jennie Linden does a pretty nice job in the lead. We like her character and we feel for her, especially given what she went through as a child. Her performance is generally pretty convincing, if a few steps away from perfect, and the role is a good one for that she seems to take full advantage of. She’s also very good at acting frightened, and we have no problem at all buying her character as being legitimately scared of what she goes through. The supporting players also do solid work, with David Knight also doing fine work here. Redmond, Cooper and Richmond also delivery good performances, and Clytie Jessop does a really nice job of playing the mysterious scarred woman in white, creating a really interesting screen presence without the advantage of having a whole lot of dialogue in the movie.

    Francis’ direction is good, he paces the film well and keeps things moving at a good clip. The film holds our attention throughout and while some may see some of the twists in Sangster’s script coming before they hit the screen, Nightmare still turns out to be well worth a watch for fans of the genre.

    Nightmare – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory offers up Nightmare on a 50GB Blu-ray with the transfer using up just over 24Gbs of space in its proper aspect ratio of 2.35.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation that looks quite excellent. The black and white image, taken from a new 2k scan of the interpositive, shows great contrast, strong detail and nice depth. It retains a filmic texture throughout, showing natural looking film grain but very little actual print damage outside of a white speck now and again. Black levels are nice and deep and the picture is free of any obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts.

    The disc contains a 24-bit English language DTS HD-MA 2.0 Mono audio option with removable subtitles provided in English only. The track on the disc sounds fine. It’s properly balanced, clean and quite clear. The dialogue is easy to understand and there are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion to note. There’s even some surprising depth to the score in places where you might not expect it.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary with Author/Film Historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck, author of the book 'The Hammer Thriller.' Hallenbeck knows his stuff and does a nice job of exploring the origins of the picture, going into quite a bit of detail about the careers of both Jimmy Sangster and Freddie Francis, going over the details of the different cast members that appear in the film, comparing the picture to other psychological thrillers made around the same time both by Hammer and other studios, detailing the cinematography and the score and quite a bit more.

    There are also a few interviews included on the disc. Slice and Fright is a twenty-five minute interview with Author/Film Historian Jonathan Rigby that covers the film’s pre-production process, the writing of the script, the different titles that were considered for the feature and more. Sleepless Nights interviews Author/Film Historian/Bowtie Aficionado Kim Newman for seventeen minutes about his appreciation of the film, what he feels works well for the picture, thoughts on Sangster’s screenplay and how the film compares to other, similar pictures.

    Reliving the Nightmare is a sixteen minute archival featurette made up of interviews with Actress Julie Samuel, Continuity Person Pauline Wise, and Focus Puller Geoff Glover that goes over what it was like on set, how everyone got along with Director Freddie Francis and what he was like to work for, some interesting original casting choices and more. The archival Nightmare…In the Making is made up of interviews with Actress Jennie Linden, Writer Jimmy Sangster, and Art Director Don Mingaye, Hosted by Author Wayne Kinsey and it runs for twenty-seven minutes, detailing some of what inspired the film, the studio’s involvement in making psychological thrillers at the time, casting the movie, Francis’ directing style, sets and locations and more. Jennie Linden Memories interviews the Actress for fourteen minutes and serves as a quick career overview with some thoughts on what it was like working on Nightmare. Madhouse: Inside Hammer's Nightmare features interviews with Film Historians Jonathan Rigby, Kevin Lyons, Alan Barnes and John J. Johnson and is a fourteen minute talk about the behind the scenes happenings and thoughts on the film’s finished version.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are the original theatrical trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As to the packaging, Shout! Factory offers up a slipcover and some nice reversible cover art with their newly created art on one side and the original one sheet art on the reverse.

    Nightmare - The Final Word:

    Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release of Hammer Films’ Nightmare offers up Hammer’s solid psychological thriller in a very nice presentation and with a host of interesting and informative extra features, making for a very nice package overall. Recommended!

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Nightmare Blu-ray screen caps!

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