Directed by Peter Sykes
Network DVD, out now
Frankie Howerd is Foster Twelvetrees, a man caught up in the mad plans of his family as they try to find a lost fortune…
The asides to camera may be a bit muted compared with his big screen appearances in the Up Pompeii spin-off films, but this is undeniably a Frankie Howerd film, complete with his pompous, girl-chasing persona, and descent into lavatorial humour. It’s also a wonderful piece of odd British cinema, with Terry Nation returning to his comic roots in collaboration with his writing partner Clive Exton (whose version of Dick Barton, Special Agent for Southern in the late 1970s is another forgotten gem).
It’s very much in the mould of films like The Cat and the Canary, where a comic central character turns out to be the most normal one in the story. Ray Milland – apparently persuaded onto the film by Howerd himself – makes a great villain, and there are turns from a number of well-known British character actors of the period.
It has its distinctly odd moments: the human marionette dance, in particular, feels as if it’s dropped in from another movie that was shooting in the same location (a mainstay of horror films of the time).
But overall, it doesn’t outstay its 91 minute running time – and Network have provided the chance to see it in its original aspect ratio (full frame) as well as the cinema released version. Extras include Bill “Zor” Mitchell narrating the trailer, and a suite of music from Harry Robinson’s score.
Verdict: One of the first releases in Network’s new British Film Collection, The House in Nightmare Park deserves the wider audience it will hopefully now get. 7/10
For more details on the British Film Collection check out: