Starring: Beverly Bain, Cliff Fields, John Ireland and John Hart
Director: John A. Bushelman
Rating: Four of Ten Stars
As her artist husband (Fields) grows more aloof, Barbara (Bain) starts to grow concerned for the health of her marriage. She soon has bigger things to worry about, as he first becomes a murder suspect... and then she immediately thereafter almost is stabbed to death by his supposed victim.
"Day of the Nightmare" features the foundation of a decent thriller, with a story constructed with enough intelligence to know not to bother concealing something which is obvious to alert audience members almost immediately (Barbara's husband is a Norman Bates-style maniac and the "murder victim" is actually his second personality), but it's done in by languid pacing and terribly undramatic camerawork and lighting. The film called for deep shadows and quirky camera angles, but instead we get cinematography that would have been better suited for an industrial educational film.
The acting is also mostly mediocre, with John Ireland (as a homicide detective looking for a murder victim that doesn't exist) seeming tired and bored and Cliff Fields (as the hubby leading more than just one double life) seeming like he needed to take a few more acting lessons.
The one exception is Beverly Bain. Whether she is portraying Barbara as the perfect early 1960s American housewife, as trying to come grips with the possibility her husband has killed his mistress, or fleeing an insane, knife-wielding cross-dressing phantom, she gives a performance far better than anything else in the film. This is her only film credit, which is a shame. There is quite a bit of talent on display here. (But no flesh; she is the only attractive female in the movie who doesn't appear topless.)
But Bain's performance alone is not enough to save this film. She, combined with the well executed story, will carry you through it, but the weak acting and inappropriate tone of the cinematography, put this movie firmly in the category of Bad.