(ITC Movie title "Screamer")
Original UK transmission: 4th January 1975
Original US transmission: 12th November 1974
WRITTEN BY: Brian Clemens
DIRECTED BY: Shaun O'Riordan
PRODUCED BY: John Cooper
MAIN CAST: Pamela Franklin (Nicola Stevens), Derek Smith (Inspector Charles), Kay Frances (Virna Holt), Donal McCann (Jeff Holt), Peter Howell (Ward), Stephen Batemen (Stationmaster), Jim Norton (The Man), Wolfe Morris (Balsam), Harry Walker (Sergeant), Ambrosine Phillpotts (Lady On Train), Michael Hall (Doctor)
At a railway signal box, a train passes in the night and the signalman checks it off. Aboard the train, an attractive young girl sits in a compartment while an older woman engages her in conversation. When she mentions that she is going to Sawford, the older woman warns her to be on her guard as there is a rapist on the loose in the area. Describing the attacker as tall and blonde, she then disembarks from the train and the girl is left alone in the compartment. Clearly agitated, she picks up the woman's newspaper to read the report as another person enters. Looking up from the paper, she is horrified to see a tall blonde man sitting opposite her.
Travelling out to the country to stay with her friends the Holts late one night, Nicola Stevens is panicked to find herself being pursued by the suspicious-looking man who had been on the train with her. The next morning, the Holts return after being delayed overnight in a breakdown and find the living room streaked in blood and Nicola bruised and in a state of shock. Nicola is admitted to a mental institution, where she gradually recovers her wits but is too traumatised to help the police identify her attacker. Returning to stay with the Holts, she is alarmed when she believes she sees the man once again on the train, and then again at a nearby egg farm. Even though the police insist that the serial rapist has been caught, Nicky becomes obsessed with the notion that he is still at large and takes mattersto her own hands, with alarming consequences.
Another top episode, this one packs a good deal of punch throughout and has a nice twist towards the end. The opening sequences centred around the train and the station get one in straight away, and Pamela Franklin's quirky portrayal of the neurotic Nicky adds immensely to the air of uncertainty and menace (she would return in the more low-key Won't Write Home Mom - I'm Dead ). As usual, Clemens manages to weave a fairly ordinary story premise into an utterly riveting script. Highly recommended.
NOTE: The "movie" version of this story opens with a disturbingly graphic and tasteless rape scene shot in America. First time viewers are strongly advised to fast forward through the titles!
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