The House In Nightmare Park (1973) (DVD review).

What has Frankie Howerd and ‘Doctor Who’ in common? To my knowledge, the comedian was never in the Time Lord adventures but the connection is that this movie and some of the episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ were written by Terry Nation. From 40 years ago, here we have an old Frankie Howerd movie released for the general public! This camp comedian can’t be pushed to the side however much we try.


I liked some of his Roman ‘Up Pompeii’ comedies but not much else. This was much the same and I’m afraid, by the time 20 minutes had passed, I was looking for the remote control. It’s tedious stuff which grinds out ad nauseam but, in saying that, there are thousands of fans out there who love this comedian passionately and, for them, this DVD will be absolutely great.

Frankie Howerd plays Foster Twelvetrees, a struggling tragic actor down on his luck with thinly populated audiences and an over-inflated opinion of his own abilities. Unexpectedly, he is hired by Stewart Henderson (Ray Milland) to entertain a family over the weekend at a country house, a house which turns out to be a creaky, ghostly gothic mansion. Every stereotype you can imagine is displayed in this black comedy horror, from spooky Indian butlers to raving mad old women with axes. This isn’t ‘Brideshead Revisited’ or even ‘Downton Abbey’ but you get a mad woman who feeds cute little bunny rabbits to nasty snakes, much to Foster’s alarm. Also, the unfortunate comedian doesn’t have much luck when it comes to drinks or meals because they always seem to evade him. Basically, everyone in the house is stark raving mad!

Seemingly unaware of the threats against him, Foster blunders his way through a family argument taking place amongst very weird people fighting over the delivery of a will. Exactly what his true purpose is in visiting the house remains to be seen. We only know nothing will be straightforward. Will he come to a sticky end? There’s lots to consider in this classic Frankie Howerd comedy horror.

As said, he is not for all tastes but with lots of fans still remaining out there, even though he has been dead for some years, there is a big market for his work. Undoubtedly, this DVD will get good sales. To make matters more interesting for Frankie aficionados, there are plenty of extra bits and pieces coming along with the DVD. There is a full frame 4:3 version of the main feature, lots of music from the original score, images, brochure and trailer. Quite a feast, in fact!

Great stuff if you like it and why not!

Rod MacDonald

October 2013

(region 2 DVD: pub: Network. 1 DVD  minute film with extras. ASIN: B00B1PT9XW. Price: £ 5.50 (UK))

cast: Frankie Howerd, Hugh Burden, Ray Milland, Rosalie Crutchley and Kenneth Griffith

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