The House in Nightmare Park (1973) | Revisiting the British horror spoof starring comedy legend Frankie Howerd

House in Nightmare Park

Yoo-hoo! I’m here… the entertainment’s arrived!
In 1907, vain stage actor Foster Twelvetrees (Frankie Howerd) is invited to give a dramatic reading at a stately country house and discovers that he is heir to the family fortune and could provide a clue to the whereabouts of a stash of diamonds. But Foster’s newfound relatives are a bunch of crazy eccentrics, and one of them is a killer out to claim the diamonds for their own. Will the hammy Twelvetrees run out of one-liners before its too late?

House in Nightmare Park (1973)

I’ve played empty houses before, but blimey…
Drawing on the 1939 Bob Hope comedy The Cat and the Canary and the popular Carry On’s of the day, 1973’s The House in Nightmare Park from director Peter Sykes (best known for the superior Hammer chiller Demons of the Mind) and writers Clive Exton (Jeeves & Wooster) and Terry Nation (Doctor Who) was a film vehicle for British comedy legend Frankie Howerd.

House in Nightmare Park (1973)

It’s a riot of quotable dialogue (‘Do you play by ear? No, I use my fingers’), where Howerd gets to do his trademark vaudeville shtick on the big screen for a change. The film’s Old Dark House premise might be dated, but Howerd’s one-of-a-kind delivery really grabs the attention, as does the film’s setting – the gothic Oakley Court in Windsor, which was a popular choice of location for horror films of the period.

House in Nightmare Park (1973)

Ray Milland is the other big name here, playing one of the sinister brothers out to claim the family fortune for his own. He doesn’t do much here, and is really only truly sinister when he gets made up as a Raggedy Ann doll in a bizarre scene involving a weird musical act.

House in Nightmare Park (1973)

The Network Distributing DVD release, part of The British Film collection, includes a brand-new transfer from original film elements in its as-exhibited cinema aspect ratio, original theatrical trailer, London TV spot (an odd choice as its mute), and image gallery. A real bonus is the 30-minute music suite from Hammer horror composer Harry Robinson.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on January 3, 2015, in British Film, Comedy, Horror, Might See, Might-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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