Nightmare (1964)

nightmare poster 1964 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice thriller with a good mystery

Works out a bit too well

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Nightmare

Studio:  Hammer Films

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  April 16, 1964

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

nightmare father murdered stabbed

Damn it, Mom! He was going to buy me a pony!

Janet (Jennie Linden) is a troubled young woman.  As a child she saw her mother murder her father and now she is plagued by chronic nightmares.  Returning home, Janet finds the nightmares increasing, and as she begins to the a woman with a scar plaguing her, she questions if she is awake or asleep.  The pressure on Janet is rising and an explosion is inevitable…but who is manipulating whom and revenge could be sweet.

Directed by Freddie Francis, Nightmare was released on April 19, 1964.  The script was penned by regular Hammer writer Jimmy Sangster (who also was a prolific TV writer) and shot in black-and-white.  The film received relatively positive reviews.

I have seen Nightmare a few times now and the movie holds up.  It is like a cheaper version of a Hitchcock film (more along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and has a bit of a Vertigo feel.  With a nice twisting plot, Nightmare is a fun ride.   Due to the film’s structure, a *****Spoiler Alert***** remains throughout the review.

nightmare wife killed jennie linden

There’s a lot of stabbin’ going on

The story for Nightmare is essentially in two parts.  The first part involves Janet and her crazed past.  She keeps seeing vision and a woman plaguing her nightmares.  Pushed to the breaking point, she snaps and kills the woman from her visions…only to turn out that it was a gaslighting plot by Henry and Grace to kill Henry’s wife (it was Grace in disguise in the visions).  The second half is Grace going mad which it turns out is a result of the servants getting revenge for Janet.

The twisting story is fun and decently plotted.  As I mentioned, it is like Vertigo in that you can’t imagine that an intricate plot to kill a wife would work, but this movie doesn’t take itself as serious as Vertigo.  It is more a slasher film and gets a little more leeway on my half as a result.

The cast is rather bland, but typical for a film of this nature.  David Knight and Moira Redmond end up essentially being the stars of the film, and Jennie Linden only appears in the first half.  Jennie Linden was a last second replacement and owes Oscar winner Julie Christie thanks.  Christie was lined up to play Janet but dropped out for Billy Liar.

nightmare david knight moira redmond

So…this means the honeymoon period is over?

The black-and-white style of the film makes it more gothic and classic.  It resembles Psycho in that nature and it gives the film more style.  I don’t know that the movie would have worked in color and choosing to keep it black-and-white adds to the suspense and horror since the visuals aren’t that astounding…it becomes a noire piece and looks better as a result.

Nightmare is a good little thriller.  Hammer Horror often pumped out a lot of quick and cheap films, but many of them were quality and Nightmare falls in as one of those quality films.  If you’ve watched all your Hitchcock films over and over again and you want something new watch Nightmare.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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