In 1973 a year before Sally Hardesty ran screaming from the chainsaw wielding Leatherface, Australian film Maker Terry Bourke delivered the horror film titled Night of Fear.
The basic similarities between TCM and Night of Fear are quite striking, especially that of the leading ladies.
Night of Fear's leading lady, Carla Hoogeveen known quite simply as 'The Woman' in the credits, has an uncanny resemblance to that of TCM's Marilyn Burns who played Sally.
Night of Fear tells the story of an insane sadistic hermit and his pet rats, who stalks and captures those who get lost in his part of the woods. A young woman (Hoogeveen) whose car breaks down and is discovered by 'The Man' (Norman Yemm) absolutely terrified by the sight of him, she flees for her life only to barricade herself in his ramshackle home. What ensues is a "Night of Fear" with flesh hungry rats, rotting skulls and depravity.
Legend has it that some of the rats seen in the film escaped into other parts of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC)'s studio and bred there. It is said that staff would not go to certain parts of the studio in fear of the rats from this movie.
Night of Fear was initially banned in Australia, it was filmed over 12 days and has no dialogue and no character names!
Carla Hoogeveen was born in the Netherlands, and after moving to Australia became a regular on Australian television screens with appearances on series such as Blue Heelers, Homicide, A Country Practice and Cop Shop just to name a few. She is also well known for another Ozploitation classic film made in 1975 again by Bourke - Inn of the Damned, where she played the character of Beverley.
Night of Fear was Carla's first leading role, as her first feature film she stated it was one of the hardest things as an actor that she had been asked to do. As there was no dialogue in the film, everything was relying on her expressions and reactions to Norman Yemm prowling around the house. There was also no sound effects to rely on. The scene in the film when she is besieged by rats, she looked up to find the crew all up off the floor hanging onto the rafters.
Oh the glorious days before CGI!
So can we crown Carla Hoogeveen our first Oz Femme Fatale of Horror? She certainly played a part in the Ozploitation revival of Australian cinema and television. She was screaming and fleeing in terror from a crazed maniac long before Sally Hardesty.
If you say you are a lover of horror and haven't checked out Night of Fear, please do yourself a favour. Sure it is a rudimentary horror film, but it is part of our cinematic history. Also, if you look at what was involved or one would could say not involved (dialogue, sound effects) during the making of the film, you can really take stock of what the actors were up against whilst making this horror gem.
(Night of Fear Trailer)
(Press on cover to buy Night of Fear and Inn of the Damned)