Nightmare – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

We are at the penultimate Blu-ray release in Scream Factory’s crusade to fully upgrade the Universal Hammer Horror 8-Film collection from year’s back. Nightmare, from 1964, is given the Collector’s Edition treatment. This mental terror of horrific dreams and sadistic dreamscapes will be seeing a brand new 2K transfer from the interpositive as well as housing a slew of new and classic extras where it was once void of them before. You’ll be able to snag this one when it releases on the format on March 15. Pre-order links are currently available, so you can get yours in to have it on release day using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review. Only Night Creatures (Known by many as Captain Clegg) will cap off this run when it also receives a Collector’s Edition next month. Details on that should be not too far around the corner.


As a child, Janet (Jennie Linden, Old Dracula) witnessed an unbearable horror – her insane mother stabbing her father to death. Now a young woman, Janet suffers from recurring nightmares that have her convinced that she’ll follow her mother to the asylum. Accompanied by her schoolteacher, Miss Lewis (Brenda Bruce, Peeping Tom), Janet retreats to the home of her guardian (David Knight, The Devil’s Agent), who has hired lovely Grace (Moira Redmond, A Shot In The Dark) as a companion to help calm his troubled ward. But Janet’s nightly terrors, magnified by the eerie, creaky old house, bring all her fears chillingly to life. Are Janet’s problems all in her head … or is there a sinister force at work?

Nightmare is a rather overlooked piece of paranoia terror. Its delivered by one of Hammer’s top directors in Freddie Francis, which helps it loom large over their catalog. Its a film that offers conspiracy as well as nightmare scenescapes to carve up scares, intrigue and mystery throughout the picture. It doesn’t contain any of Hammer’s iconic monsters or go full on supernatural or period, but it certainly houses some of its best horrors, imagery and chills.

Francis’ film feels like its paving the way for many films that come after. A lot of his dream sequences are the things that would inspire stuff I’ve seen in later horror movies and a lot of television. Its not even just the imagery and staging, its the camera movements, lighting and lensing used to portray evens. Yes, I’ll acknowledge that there’s a lot of Robert Wise’s The Haunting in this movie, which came out the year prior. Its an obvious influence, but Freddie Francis takes that stuff, runs with it and finds some evolutions, inspirations and goes in other directions with what he was obviously taken with in Wise’s film.

The film also features some terrific performances to boot. Much of the insanity, edginess and psychotic nature of some of the leads is all in for the kill. None of it is over the top, which could be a danger, but instead ramps up intensity and discomfort for the viewer, by design. Both Jennie Linden and Moira Redmond pump up their craziness to such high levels it adds a giant layer of unpredictability to the film by the sheer power of performance. You are on edge, just never quite knowing how a scene is going to end. And that’s absolutely lovely and a huge factor of why this film works so well.

In the Hammer canon, everyone always remembers fondly on the monsters, mainly Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein, as well as the period stories of horror and gothic romance. The films that take place in modern times rarely get their fare shake, but Nightmare is one that stands above all and is one of Hammer’s finest hours in their history. Sure, you can look and find appreciation but this is one that should easily be finding conversation in horror history outside of its context within the studio it was released by.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scream Factory unveils Nightmare for the second time on Blu-ray in this Collector’s Edition with a new 2K scan from the interpositive. This image is pretty well rounded, featuring lovely darkened shadow work with its haunting black and white film stock. There’s a rampant depth that really livens up the film and is improved in this new transfer. Details are quite strong, especially on many of the garments worn, from the patterns and stitching on blazers to the intricacies of some of the dresses, it has a really terrific look going on.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty strong and improved here. Spacing is more apparent and the pushback and scale is more impressive. Movement is smoother and confident with no distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks and deep and rich. They really help to shadow and accent a good many scenes. No real issues occur with information being lost in darkness and no crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a gray/white and find consistency with ease from opening to closing credits. Facial texture and detail come through pretty clean in the medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Nightmare has a rock solid and wonderful sounding original theatrical mix. It has as slight analog hiss at its bass. There is a hair of peaking at times with high pitched voices, which likely is in the source, but overall runs rather smooth. Having the proper expectations for a film of this age and quality, nothing should be of the bother and majority will find it rather more than enjoyable.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Nightmare – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With Bruce Hallenbeck

Sleepless Nights: Reflecting on a Nightmare Movie (HD, 16:14) – Author, film historian and regular on Hammer bonus materials, Kim Newman reflects on the film. His usual bubbly self to the degree of where I wonder if he enjoys the Hammer movies or just knows a lot about them.

Slice and Fright: Jonathan Rigby Remembers Nightmare (HD, 16:12) – Another author and film historian, Jonathan Rigby also looks back on the film. Rigby has the more straightforward, historic and matter of fact approach to counter how Newman likes to talk about these movies.

Nightmare in the Making (HD, 27:14) – This documentary is ported over from another release and including interviews with actress Jennie Linden, writer Jimmy Sangster and art director Don Mingaye, hosted by author Wayne Kinsey. This is in line with a series of them that have been found on other Scream Factory releases.

Jennie Linden Memories (HD, 14:16) – A full interview with Jennie Linden. This video comes from something else, but its a sit down with an interviewer with Jennie from, what I’m guessing is her home (She has quite the collection of gardening magazines on her coffee table). Its a career spanning interview with good vibes.

Madhouse: Inside Hammer’s Nightmare (HD, 14:12) – This retrospective is told from interviews with film historians Jonathan Rigby, Kevin Lyons, Alan Barnes and John J. Johnson which comes from a previous release.

Reliving the Nightmare (HD, 16:12) – This new retrospective includes interviews with actress Julie Samuel, continuity person Pauline Wise and focus puller Geoff Glover. There’s mention that Julie Christie was original the lead but asked out of the film to have a role in a bigger film which is a neat factoid. Glover said it was his most difficult film he did, “Freddie Francis really pushed it”. This is a fun recollection from people still around to give their stories and take on the film.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, :55) – Encoded in HD, but this is sourced from a VHS tape judging by the video and audio quality.

Sill Gallery (HD, 2:53)


Hammer’s Nightmare is one its more “adult” fare films that delivers mystery, intrigue and well…nightmare! Scream Factory gives it a fully loaded Blu-ray with a stock of quality extras. The new transfer looks pretty wonderful to go with its natural, original audio. This is one of the stronger films in the Hammer catalog in terms of holding up without nostalgia or understanding of period context. A different pick up for those beyond collectors who are curious.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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