While on vacation in France, Peter Chance (Lex Barker) is hit on the head and left by the side of the road, all for trying to do a good deed. He was picking up a hitchhiker when he was attacked and left for dead.

(Image: Wrong Side of The Art)
(Image: Wrong Side of The Art)

When he finally becomes conscious again, he has no recollection of who he is, where he is or how he got there.

The strange house he awakes in is owned by a woman who decides to take advantage of him, convincing him that he is Gordy, the heir to a fortune that her husband was supposed to receive. If all goes as planned, “Gordy” will get the money and she’ll be able to steal it from him.

The Strange Awakening was released by London’s Merton Park Studios in 1958. It was later re-released under the alternate title of Female Fiends and made its way to American screens in 1960.

The Strange Awakening is an odd little piece of work. Clocking in at barely over an hour, the film plays to the extremes.

The script suffers from the short running time, making the whole tale seem incredibly rushed. With such an intriguing premise of mistaken identity, plots for monetary gain and attempted murder, this film could have easily been fleshed out into a much more successful 80 or 90 minute feature.

At the same time, though, the film has some great strengths. Lex Barker’s performance is memorable and adds great drama to many of the scenes. (Unfortunately I can’t describe any of my few favorite scenes without getting spoilery, so you’ll have to go give the film a look!) He slowly begins to unravel the mystery of how he ended up in this enormous house of which he has no recollection, with people he’s never met before. Barker’s performance is the film’s strongest asset, drawing the viewer in more than any other element and providing the most intrigue.

For all of its successful scenes, the film does have a bit of silliness as well, mostly in the dialogue between “Gordy” and his supposed family members. On top of that, it’s nearly completely lacking in twists, leaving the viewer no opportunity to explore the scenario’s effect on Peter/”Gordy” psychologically.

The Strange Awakening or Female Fiends is a decent little flick, but it’s no outstanding B-picture. Better films have been churned out by low-budget studios both in England and stateside that are far more worth the viewer’s time. This isn’t a bad watch, though, especially for those interested in forgotten films and performers. The score: 2.5/5