Color, 1971, 89 mins. 11 secs.
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Starring Mia Farrow, Dorothy Alison, Robin Bailey, Diane Grayson, Norman Eshley, Paul Nicholas, Brian Rawlinson, Christopher Matthews
Indicator (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK R0 HD/PAL), Carlotta (Blu-ray & DVD) (France RB/R2 HD/PAL), Sony (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)

A See No Eviltense, chillingly See No Evileffective thriller, See No Evil occupies an interesting place in the careers of both its director, Richard Fleischer (who was in the midst of a remarkable crime film run with The Boston Strangler, 10 Rillington Place, and The New Centurions), and screenwriter Brian Clemens. Though he'd been writing for the big and small screens for years, Clemens didn't really hit it big until he wrote many of the most exceptional episodes of The Avengers (from the Emma Peel and Tara King era), which he parlayed into writing such films as And Soon the Darkness, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and The Watcher in the Woods, not to mention a brief spell at Hammer with Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (which he also directed) and Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde. This film shows off Clemens at his best, using a can't-miss central hook (in this case, a blind girl slowly realizing she's trapped in a house with multiple corpses and a serial killer) as a springboard for clever plotting and simple but sympathetic characters. In fact, the concept worked so well Clemens tweaked it two years later for "The Eyes Have It," an episode of his excellent horror-mystery anthology series for ITV, Thriller, with a school for the blind as the backdrop for a murder plot.

When a passing car splashes mud on the boots of a psychotic pedestrian, he targets the family responsible, the Rextons, at their remote country home. A guest staying with them, niece Sarah (Farrow), has been blinded in a See No EvilSee No Evilhorse-riding accident, but she's coping well enough and even has a budding romance with neighbor Steve (The Confessional's Eshley, also seen in another standout Clemens episode of Thriller, "The Color of Blood"). After spending an idyllic afternoon with Steve, Sarah comes home to find the house quite and eerily empty... or so she thinks, since the entire family has been murdered, and the nightmare is just about to begin.

Though the idea of a blind person in peril was nothing new by this point (most famously courtesy of Wait Until Dark), See No Evil offers a fresh spin on the concept with its autumn English setting and unpredictable story, which divides neatly into a three-act structure with the middle part sticking in most viewers' minds. It's a creepy, nail-biting piece of suspense filmmaking that's been imitated several times since, most notably as the last half hour of Sergio Martino's Torso. This being a Fleischer film, it also implies a larger social issue with violence permeating society from the opening frames with a theater marquee for a double feature of The Convent Murders and Rapist Cult and storefront TVs blasting clips of Torture Garden. Of course it's ridiculous to blame horror movies for violent behavior, but it's possible to give the film the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is a demonstration of See No Evilhow real violence can be more difficult to predict when See No Evilyou're surrounded by simulations of it everywhere you look. Farrow is fragile and effective as she commands the bulk of the running time, often without any other actors around, with the great Elmer Bernstein lending expert support with a sparing but effective music score including an aggressive main theme and a haunting bit of lyricism for Farrow's character.

Regularly available on home video since its VHS incarnation from RCA/Columbia, See No Evil first appeared on DVD as a no-frills release in 2003. A remastered HD version of the film first popped up on the Sony Movie Channel in 2015 and bowed on Blu-ray in France courtesy of Carlotta as Terreur aveugle as a standalone disc or part of a three-film Richard Fleischer set with The New Centurions and The Boston Strangler. Extras on that release (which includes English or French options for the main feature) include an introduction by Nicolas Saada (7m21s), who compares this to Robert Siodmak's The Spiral Staircase, and a "Fulgurances physiques" interview with Fabrice du Welz (15m17s), both French language only, plus the trailer and a gallery of color and B&W production shots and publicity stills.

However, the version to go for is the See No Evil2017 dual-format UK release from Indicator, which features an adept encoding of the already superb transfer (with LPCM English mono and optional SDH subtitles), identical in appearance to the French disc, as well as a nice selection of extras for a film that seemed destined to never get the special edition treatment. See No EvilChief among them is the entire UK version, Blind Terror, which clocks in at 87m30s (with a 25s text card at the beginning). Rather than a cut-down version of the standard See No Evil, it's actually a variant with some notable editorial differences scattered through the first 40 minutes (with a little one at the end as well). The story and tone of the film don't change, but the differences in cutaways and shot lengths are fascinating to spot. This version is presented mostly in HD with a handful of SD inserts where necessary. "The Two Versions" (7m22s) offers a useful side-by-side comparison of the variant cuts, pointing out some exclusive shots and noting how the focus of some scenes shifts based on editorial decisions. Eshley appears for a new video interview (11m19s) reflecting on making this film while appearing in a play at night during the shoot, admiring Fleischer's Tora! Tora! Tora!, offering a goofy disclaimer to Farrow before their kissing scene, and enjoying a lengthy acting career on both the stage and the big screen. Also included are an alternate Italian main title sequence (Assassinio al convento!), the U.S. theatrical trailer, and separate galleries of promotional material (93 images) and on-set photography (34 images). As usual, the packaging includes a welcome, illustrated liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by Chris Fujiwara, a text interview with Fleischer, and a sample of reviews from the theatrical release.

Reviewed on September 23, 2017.