Review of Revenge in Monthly Film Bulletin, October, 1971, p. 202-3
Great Britain, 1971 Director: Sidney Hayers
Cert: X. dist: Rank. p.c.: Peter Rogers Productions. exec. p: Peter Rogers. p: George H. Brown. p. manager--Tony Wallis. assistant d: Stuart Freeman. sc: John Kruse. ph: Ken Hodges. col: Eastman Colour. ed: Tony Palk. a.d.: Lionel Couch. set dec--Peter James Howitt. m/m.d--Eric Rogers. titles--G.S.E., Ltd. sd. ed--Bill Trent. sd. rec--J.W.N. Daniel, Ken Barker. l.p.: Joan Collins (Carol Radford), James Booth (Jim Radford), Ray Barrett (Harry), Sinead Cusack (Rose), Tom Marshall (Lee Radford), Kenneth Griffith (Seely), Zuleika Robson (Jill Radford), Donald Morley (Inspector), Barry Andrews (Sergeant), Geoffrey Hughes (Brewery Driver), Ronald Clarke (Brewery Driver's Mate), Angus Mackay (Priest), Patrick McAlinney (George), Artro Morris (Jacko), Martin Carroll (Undertaker), Richard Holden (Pub Customer), Basil Lord (Sales Representative), Nicola Crit6cher (Lucy). 8,010 ft. 89 mins.
When North Country publican Jim Radford's ten-year-old daughter is found raped and murdered, Jim's friend Harry--whose own daughter had met a similar death the year before--persuades him to kidnap Seely, a suspicious recluse whom the police have released after questioning, and force a confession from him. But once they have him locked up in the pub cellar, their violent hatred explodes and, with Jim's son Lee and second wife Carol to supplement the blows, Seely is soon presumed dead. Obliged to conceal the corpse, not just from the police but also from the daughter Jill and the barmaid Rose, the Radfords make plans to dispose of Seely's body, only to discover next day that he is still alive. They dare neither kill him in cold blood nor set him free to reveal what they have done to him; and Harry washes his hands of the problem and leaves for Manchester. But Seely's continuing presence affects the whole family: Jim takes to drink; Lee finds himself impotent with Rose and compensates by raping Carol on the cellar floor in front of their tortured captive; and Jill, finally discovering the family secret, is distracted from her exams. When Jim finds evidence of Lee's incestuous assault, Carol knocks him unconscious to prevent him killing Lee, with whom she then elopes. Shortly afterwards, news that the police are questioning another suspect convinces Jim that Seely is innocent and he brings him upstairs for tea and first-aid. Jim leaves to collect Jill, who has spent the night with neighbors, but on hearing that the police have released their man, he returns to find Seely assaulting Jill's schoolfriend Lucy. Without hesitation, he knifes Seely and then phones the police.
Peter Rogers owes his fame to the Carry On...series, and his reputation for making people laugh will doubtless be consolidated by this abortive melodrama. Its crude lighting and the high-gloss ugliness of the sets seems a fitting match for the crude psychology of its unappealing characters. John Kruse's script plays fitfully with the idea of the captive as a catalyst for evil and , in more mundane terms, with the Dreadful Consequences of ordinary people taking the law into their own hands; but Seely's guilt (heavily signalled in Kenneth Griffith's sweet-sucking performance) rather undermines the second idea, while the instant nastiness of the other characters confines the first to the most perfunctory development. The grotesque improbability of the relationships (Atreus' house was no match for this) is further highlighted by the matter-of-fact suburban dialogue, with characters seriously suggesting nice cups of tea as antidotes to every excess of grief, lust, and violence, and Joan Collins' put-upon housewife declaring, "I don't know what's come over us", as she eagerly submits to her stepson's rape.