(director: Richard Fleischer; screenwriter: Brian Clemens; cinematographer: Gerry Fisher; editor: Thelma Connell; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Mia Farrow (Sarah), Brian Rawlinson (Barker, gardener), Norman Eshley (Steve Redding), Dorothy Allison (Betty Rexton), Robin Bailey (George Rexton), Diane Grayson (Sandy Rexton), Paul Nicholas (Jacko), Lila Kaye (Gypsy Mother), Barrie Houghton (Gypsy Jack), Michael Elphick(Gypsy Tom); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: GP; producers: Leslie Linder/Martin Ransohoff; Columbia; 1971-UK)

“It had at least one coincidence too many to be believable.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The American Richard Fleischer (The Clay Pigeon”/”The Boston Strangler”/”The Narrow Margin”) directs this suspenseful damsel-in-distress thriller that’s a British production shot in Berkshire, England. It’s written by Brian Clemens, a Britisher. It seems to have the same setup as the Audrey Hepburn-Alan Arkin thriller Wait Until Dark (1967).

Sarah (Mia Farrow) recently became blinded after a horse riding spill and for her recovery is staying in the English countryside manor home of her Uncle George and Aunt Betty, and their teenage daughter Sandy. While Sarah is visiting her former boyfriend Steve’s nearby farm and is given as a present a horse called Dandy Star, her relatives are murdered by a cowboy boot wearing maniac who took umbrage that George accidentally splattered his boots with mud while driving his car to bring Sarah home. She eerily discovers their bodies after sleeping in the same room with her cousin. This scene, of locating all the dead bodies, takes about 30 minutes and is the centerpiece of the film, providing its most earned thrills–that is cheap thrills, which is all that this cheesy thriller can muster (besides a pretty good performance by Mia).

Sarah when confronted by the murderer escapes by horse, but gets knocked off by a tree branch in the woods and when seeking help is taken prisoner and locked in a farmhouse by a gypsy family who believe one of them might have done it when she shows them a bracelet found in her house she believes was taken off the murderer. She manages to also escape from here and is found in the woods by Steve, alarmed that the horse returned alone. Steve keeps her in his house while he and his farm hands go out to question the gypsies. But the trouble is not over for Sarah, as the murderer attacks her while she’s taking a bath in order to get the bracelet back that has his name on it. This climactic scene stands out because it seemed unnecessary and the unmasking of the killer in this crude manner lacked not only imagination but greatly lowered the film’s value.

It had at least one coincidence too many to be believable. But for a B-film it has good production values and provides some frightening scare scenes even if it’s heavy-handed in making a point that someone vulnerable has to learn whom to trust.