THE FIEND aka BEWARE MY BRETHREN (1971) Reviews and overview

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‘Sinner… Your evil shall destroy you…’

The Fiend – aka Beware My Brethren – is a 1971 British horror feature film produced and directed by Robert Hartford-Davis (Incense for the Damned; Corruption). The movie stars Ann Todd, Tony Beckley, Patrick Magee and Suzanna Leigh. It was released in May 1972.


The film is set against a background of religious fanaticism and also includes elements of the exploitation genre typical of the early 1970s.

On December 11, 2018, Vinegar Syndrome released the film fully uncut as a limited edition Blu-ray + DVD.

  • Newly scanned and restored in 2K from 35mm negative elements
  • Audio commentary by film historian and author Samm Deighan
  • Scene comparison between the UK theatrical version and the uncut International version
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitles

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Led by a sinister minister (Patrick Magee, in fine arm flailing form), zealous religious sect The Brethren have taken control of widow Birdy Wemys, sending her unstable son, Kenny, into a descent of madness and murder. No woman is safe when Kenny’s religious mania overpowers him and leads to a rampage of carnage and chaos…

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“Like much of Hartford-Davis’s work on Corruption, this film is also a decidedly crude, if not completely bizarre, affair […] Hartford clearly wanted to say something about repressive and conservative religion and The Fiend mixes this very bleak view with a salaciousness and brutality that also saw the film run into trouble with the censors…” Cathode Ray Tube


” …it’s a very effective psycho thriller with some of the strongest lashings of sex and violence to be found in early ’70s UK cinema. The actors all do a fine job in their roles, which makes the injections of nudity and violence even more jolting when they occur; the seedy but colorful visual scheme is also better than the impoverished budget would normally allow, and overall it’s a modest but eye-opening little number… Mondo Digital

“As the psycho film it is sold as, The Fiend is relatively disappointing. Robert Hartford-Davies seems more interested in the sexploitation element – having numerous topless female victims running around – than he ever does in generating tension. The psycho element gets sidetracked in the last quarter-hour or so as two major subplots take over…” Moria

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” …instills a good amount of nudity and startling deaths (one woman is found in a cement truck, another in a meat locker where a couple is about to make love, etc.), sometimes juxtaposed against images of Baptism (the killer drowns several victims). You would expect Patrick Magee to be over-the-top in such a role, but he’s rather subdued even when he gets his just-desserts in the end.” DVD Drive-In

“Much like its stablemate Corruption, The Fiend is also unashamedly warped, which is of course what we’re all looking for – mixing church worship with violent murder, giving its lead character an Oedipus complex, intimating that organised religion is basically corrupt and eventually having a vicar crucified in his own church.” British Horror Films

Ten Years of Terror FAB Press book Harvey Fenton David Flint

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“One of the best British horror flicks, with great performances by Ann Todd as Mama (”Kenny, you must never let them tempt you — they will try and make you have sex like that woman and your father”); Patrick Magee as the preacher (who takes his spiritual orders from a loudspeaker in Arizona); and Tony Beckley…” Orlando Sentinel

“This is a well-acted thriller with good production values. The material would have been perfect for Peter Walker and it is easy to imagine Sheila Keith in the Ann Todd part […] try to ignore the two terribly out-of-place musical numbers performed by the church congregation.” Gary A. Smith, Uneasy Dreams

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” …it’s a pretty interesting and effective time capsule, probably the best all-round horror outing from Hartford-Davis […] Loosely based on the unsolved Hammersmith “Jack the Stripper” prostitute murders (the same basis for Hitchcock’s Frenzy).” Clive Davies, Spinegrinder: The Movies Most Critics Won’t Write About


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“The film is significant for the way Hartford-Davis exploits several serious themes as pruriently as possible, exactly prefiguring the method Pete Walker would later apply to films like House of Mortal Sin. But it’s chiefly memorable for the spectacle of genteel veteran Ann Todd (as the diabetic mother) hemmed in on all sides by 1970s sleaze.” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic

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“Beckley is suitably twitchy and forlorn but he up against a director whose principle concern is not character development and from the outset, Hartford-Davis makes the murder scenes stomach-churning spectacles of blood and religious symbolism.” John Hamilton, X-Cert 2

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Choice dialogue:

Kenny Wemys: “You’ll perish! The day of retribution is at hand.”

Cast and characters:

  • Ann Todd as Birdy Wemys
  • Tony Beckley as Kenny Wemys
  • Patrick Magee as Minister
  • Suzanna Leigh as Paddy/Patricia Lynch
  • Madeleine Hinde as Brigitte Lynch
  • Percy Herbert as Commissionaire
  • David Lodge as CID Inspector – Bloodbath at the House of DeathScream and Scream AgainCorruption
  • Ronald Allen as Paul
  • Maxine Barrie as Singer
  • Jeannette Wild as Prostitute
  • Diana Chappell as Poolside Girl
  • Hani Borelle as Riverside Girl
  • Susanna East as Teenage Girl

Filming locations:

Various London locations and Twickenham Film Studios


Passed with cuts by the BBFC on 29 October 1971 for a British cinema release by Miracle Films, the same ‘X’ rated version was released on home video by Gold Star/Derann Film Services. The Fiend finally received an uncut widescreen DVD release on the UK’s Odeon Entertainment label in May 2011 with a ’15’ rating.

In the US, the film was retitled Beware My Brethren for theatrical distribution by Cinerama Releasing Corporation.

Film Facts:

In a cinema foyer scene, a poster for the double-bill of Hammer’s Scars of Dracula and Horror of Frankenstein can be seen in the background.


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