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Film / Cradle of Fear

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Cradle of Fear is a 2001 British horror film, directed by Alex Chandon. It was released direct-to-video on 4 July 2001. Taking inspiration from the anthology films produced by Amicus Productions in the 1970s, it features three separate half-hour segments, linked by a fourth story. The main narrative involves imprisoned serial killer Kemper wreaking vengeance on those responsible for his capture. This he does through his son: Dani Filth playing an unnamed character referred to in the credits as "The Man".

In London, Detective Pete Neilson is investigating several bloody and gruesome murders with all the victims connected to the trial of the serial killer Kemper who is interned in the Fenham Asylum. Melissa has one night stand with a sick man she met in a Gothic club and while going to the house her friend Natalie on the next morning, she has the sensation that she is surrounded by demons. Sooner she finds that she carries an offspring of the man. Emma and Sophie go to the house of an old man to steal his money, but their robbery becomes violent when the dweller wakes up. Nick has a guilt complex with his beloved girlfriend Nikki because his leg was amputated in an accident. He becomes deranged, gets a leg and forces his doctor to implant it, with tragic results. Richard Neilson, the son of Detective Neilson, works as a journalist and becomes obsessed with snuff movies in a website, where the user can select the means of killing the victim, losing his job. When the site vanishes, Richard seeks information to find the truth about the movies.


  • Back-Alley Doctor: Nick Holland's doctor is willing to perform a leg transplant without asking too many questions about where Nick obtained the leg from.
  • Bathtub Bonding: Sophie and and Emma take a bath together to wash off the blood after killing the old man, and they discuss what they are going to do.
  • Bedlam House: Fenham Asylum, where Serial Killer Kemper is being held, looks more like something out of the 19th century than a modern 21st century mental health facility; even a maximum security one.
  • Calming Tea: Melissa spends the day seeing demonic faces all over the streets. She visits her friend Nikki and explains the story, who then offers her a cup of tea to calm down.
    NSFW AT ALL, scene at 5:50 (seriously, clip starts with nudity)
  • Cat Scare: Sophie jumps when she is sneaking out of the house after murdering the old man and Emma and turns around almost collides with the postman.
  • Combat Tentacles: After being shot in the head, The Man's shattered skull sprouts tentacles that rip Inspector Neilson apart.
  • Crime After Crime: Sophie and Emma start off breaking into an old man's house to steal a stash of cash they believe he has hidden. Things go wrong when the old man catches him and Sophie murders him, and then murders her partner Emma to keep the cash for herself. And then things keep going wrong...
  • Da Chief: By-the-Book Cop Chief Inspector Roper is worried that his subordinate Inspector Neilson is in danger of becoming a Cowboy Cop, especially when he receives reports of Neilson's unorthodox techniques, such as touching the dead bodies. However, he is also concerned about the stress Neilson is under in trying to solve seven murders in one week, puts up with his foul mouth, runs interference between Neilson and the higher-ups, and is extremely sympathetic when Neilson's son is killed. Neilson actually feels regretful when he has to knock Roper out in order to finish the case.
  • Da Editor: Pringle, Richard's boss. He initially appears to be just a Pointy-Haired Boss: busting Richard's balls and threatening to fire him for no reason. However, it soon becomes apparent that his anger is justified, as Richard has become so wrapped up in his obsessions that he is no longer doing his job as a reporter. Eventually, Richard isolates his cubicle from the rest of the office so he can surf the web looking for the elusive Sick Room site without being interrupted. Justifiably, Pringle fires him at this point and gets punched in the face for his trouble.
  • Evil Hand: Or evil leg in this case. Nick Holland is an amputee who is unable to engage in sexual activity with his girlfriend Natalie due to his frustration with the loss of his left leg in a prior accident. Nick visits his old friend Thomas and shoots him in the head. He then removes Thomas' left leg, puts it on ice and has it transplanted to himself by his doctor overnight. Nick goes through rehabilitation and eventually becomes able to move his transplanted leg. One night, while driving with Natalie, Nick loses control of his leg which steps on the accelerator, resulting in a crash that instantly kills Natalie.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Man gets into Kemper's cell by dressing the full coverage riot gear of the asylum guards and joining the squad of guards whom Dr. Ross orders to drag out Inspector Neilson.
  • The Cameo: Dani Filth has a major role in the film, and all of the other members of Cradle of Filth make cameos.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Man and his father Kemper show surprising level of affection for each other. The Man goes to free his father from the asylum and gently unties the straps binding his head, and Kemper tells him how proud would his father be of him, and is distraught when The Man is seemingly killed.
  • Express Delivery: Melissa's demon baby is born one day after her sexual encounter with The Man.
  • Eye Scream: The reanimated Emma smashes a whiskey bottle and drives the jagged edge into Sophie's eye. Later The Man murders one of the traffic cops by driving his finger claw through his eye.
  • Fetus Terrible: After spending the night with The Man, Melissa begins hallucinating about the people around her turning to her with monstrous faces and voices. Melissa goes to Nikki's house to seek help, then a creature bursts out of Melissa's womb and attacks Nikki, killing both.
  • Fingore: Nikki starts to slide her hand into the top of Melissa's panties, then screams as she loses two fingers to Melissa's Fetus Terrible that chooses that moment to be born.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The reanimated Emma smashes a whiskey bottle and drives the jagged edge into Sophie's eye.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Inspector Neilson learns that his son has been murdered, he knocks out Da Chief, takes a gun he is not supposed to have, and goes to Fenham Asylum intending to murder Kemper.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative: The hypnotist and Serial Killer Kemper is supposedly the illegitimate son of Aleister Crowley.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Serial Killer Kemper turned to cannibalism to dispose of the bodies of his victims. He was eventually caught when his appetite for killing outstripped his appetite for human flesh. The bodies built up and the smell aroused the suspicion of his neighbour.
  • Just Keep Driving: Nick's possessed left leg jams itself down on his right foot: jamming the accelerator to the floor, and leaving him no way to press the brake. Nick is forced to swerve his constantly accelerating car through busy London traffic. While crossing an intersection, the car is clipped by a truck going the other way with enough force to throw the car violently off the road and send it crashing down an alley. The truck does not stop.
  • Killer Cop: When Inspector Neilson's son is murdered, he snaps completely, knocks out his boss, and storms Fenham Asylum intending to kill Kemper personally.
  • Made of Iron: The old man whom Sophie and Emma try to rob is a scrawny thing who looks like he would blow over in a strong wind. However, when he grabs Emma, Sophie hits him over the head seven or eight times with a candlestick, and thinks she has killed him. Then he sits up and a panicked Emma stabs him multiple times in the chest and he falls down again. Then he sits up again and Sophie finally kills him by smashing his head in with repeated blows from a heavy stone statue.
  • Mind Your Step: When Sophie and Emma are sneaking into the old man's house, Sophie almost trips over a loose board on the stairs. When she flees the bedroom, she trips over this same loose board, slams her head into the wall and knocks herself out.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The Man murders the two traffic cops who arrive to investigate Nick's crash, and then takes the uniform from one of them and uses to it to gain access to Fenham Asylum.
  • Mugging the Monster: The opening scene sees "The Man" being approached and attacked by two muggers in a dark alley of London. As the muggers check their seemingly unconscious victim for cash, The Man regains consciousness and brutally kills them.
  • The Sick Room, where the site's visitors can determine how victims die, for a fee, but are at risk of becoming victims themselves if they don't pay up...
  • Naughty Tentacles: Although somewhat obscured by the strobing light, The Man sprouts tentacles while having sex with Melissa and uses these to impregnate her.
  • Neck Snap: The Man kills a nurse when breaking into the asylum by grabbing her head and twisting it around 180 degrees.
  • No Honour Among Thieves: When Sophie and Emma find the old man's hidden stash of cash, and find there is thousands of pounds instead of the hundreds they were expecting, Sophie kills Emma so she can keep all the loot for herself.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: The film provides a starring role for musician Dani Filth. Director Alex Chandon had previously directed music videos for Cradle of Filth.
  • No Name Given: Dani Filth's character is never named and is only identified in the credits as "The Man".
  • Organ Theft: Nick Holland is an amputee who is unable to engage in sexual activity with his girlfriend Natalie due to his frustration with the loss of his left leg in a prior accident. Nick visits his old friend Thomas and shoots him in the head. He then removes Thomas' left leg, puts it on ice and has it transplanted to himself by his doctor overnight.
  • Percussive Prevention: When Inspector Neilson announces that he going to Fenham Asylum to kill Kemper, his boss Chief Inspector Roper says—very sympathetically—that he can't allow him to do that. Neilson replies that he knows, and slugs Roper in the jaw, knocking him out.
  • Ripped from the Phone Book: After getting the email containing the location where the Snuff Films are made, Richard goes to newsagent and surreptitiously rips a page showing the location from a street directory.
  • Robbing the Dead: Not content with killing the old man and stealing his cash, Sophie also steals some of his clothing to replace her own blood-splattered clothes so she can walk home without attracting attention.
  • Serial Killer: Keller is a serial killer and rapist whose reign of terror stretched for more that 25 years before he was arrested by Inspector Neilson. At the start of the film, he is imprisoned in Fenham Asylum.
  • Shear Menace: Melissa stabs herself repeatedly in the belly with a pair of scissors in an attempt to kill her Fetus Terrible.
  • Shout-Out: The unethical doctor who transplants Thomas's leg on to Nick is Dr. H. West.
    • And of course there's famous real life serial killer Ed Kemper.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Inspector Neilson uses language that would make a sailor blush, and seems incapable of uttering a simple sentence without peppering it with profanities. He does not even moderate his language in front of his boss: even dropping the C-bomb on one occasion. Fortunately for him, Da Chief seems to be remarkably understanding.
  • Snuff Film: Richard is a reporter with a morbid obsession with extreme pornography and snuff films. One day he finds a website offering real-time footage of people being attacked and tortured on commands issued by remote users. Richard's escalating obsession with the website causes him to lose his job and, eventually, his house.
  • Staircase Tumble: Sophie trips on a loose board on the stairs when fleeing the old man's bedroom, slams her head into the wall, and knocks herself out.
  • Shower of Angst: After her traumatic one-night stand with The Man, Melissa takes a shower and tries to scrub herself clean, which ends with her desperately scratching at her skin with her fingernails.
  • Tae Kwon Door: The Man telekinetically slams a cell door in an orderly's face, knocking him out.
  • Televised Torture: Richard is a reporter with a morbid obsession for extreme pornography and snuff films. One day he finds 'The Sick Room': a website offering real-time footage of people being attacked and tortured on commands issued by remote users. His growing obsession with the site eventually brings about his downfall.
  • Vomiting Cop: The traffic cop who arrives at the scene of Nick's accident looks inside the car and sees Nick stabbing himself repeatedly in leg in a frenzy, and then stagger away to throw up.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: According to Inspector Neilson, this happened to the last of Kemper's victims. Blood loss from her wounds, combined with shock, dropped her into a catatonic coma where her vital signs were too faint to be detected. She woke up in a freezer drawer at the morgue and subsequently suffocated. When she was eventually found, she had broken every bone in her hands pounding on the inside of the drawer to attract attention, but no one had heard. Neilson blames himself for this because he did not check to see if she was dead before they removed her, and it is why he now insists on touching the very body at a crime scene.
  • Would Harm a Child: The Serial Killer Kemper used to rape, murder and eat children (probably in that order). Inspector Neilson says that he doesn't know how many children Keller killed, but he is sure it is far more than the number he was tried for.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Richard, whose sexual predilections run to some very rough stuff. He roughs his girlfriend up so badly that her face is an unrecognisable wreck and she is too terrified to return to the office where they both work.