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Dead Of Night

Released on 13 November 2006

Featuring: Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver & Mary Merrall

Format: DVD | Rating: PG

4.0 out of 5 (3 customer reviews) | Write a review

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Architect Walter Craig, seeking the possibility of some work at a country farmhouse, soon finds himself once again stuck in his recurring nightmare. Dreading the end of the dream that he knows is coming, he must first listen to all the assembled guests' own bizarre tales....

A relatively unknown Ealing gem, Dead Of Night is a portemanteau of the stories Christmas Party & The Ventriloquist's Dummy (dir. Alberto Cavalcanti), Golfing Story (dir. Charles Crichton), Hearse Driver (dir. Basil Dearden) and The Haunted Mirror (dir. Robert Hamer).

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 Average rating (3 reviews)

 "Something evil. Monstrously evil."

| | See all severian67's reviews (15)

Another classic, and an unusual item to come from Ealing Studios, who latterly became rather more famous for their comedies than for scare stories. I first saw this at a special screening at the National Film Theatre in London, and it's subsequently become something of a favourite. I believe it's also the film which gave rise to the tradition of the "episodic" horror movie, where the viewer is presented with a selection of short tales, held together by a linking story. Much of the film is very quaint, presenting a vista of an England which is long vanished (if indeed it ever truly existed), and three of the tales are entertaining but quite forgettable. The others, though, are quite a different kettle of fish, being absolutely terrific little atmospheric gems. The first of these, directed by Robert Hamer, features Googie Withers in a story usually referred to as the Haunted Mirror, in which her character buys an antique mirror which - you guessed it - turns out to have a dark secret. This one plays very successfully on the old chestnut "is the room I see in the mirror really just the reflection of the room I'm standing in, or is it another room entirely? And what lies beyond?" I'll say no more, for fear of spoiling the story for the uninitiated. The other great episode, the Ventriloquist's Dummy, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and starring the brilliant Michael Redgrave, is the tale which gave rise to the "creepy ventriloquist's dummy" phenomenon which has since become somewhat over-familiar. Here it is presented for the first time on film and at its most effective, with the hag-ridden Michael Redgrave being increasingly dominated by his malevolent little wooden partner (or is it just all in his mind?). "Dead of Night" is shot in luminous, atmospheric black and white and, as well as being a landmark film in the development of the horror movie, still stands up today as a memorable chiller.

 "Just room for one inside, sir!"

| | See all secretivebus's reviews (15)

"Dead of Night" is a film defeated by its own towering reputation as being of the creepiest films of British cinema. Certainly it is easy to imagine that a 1940s audience would have found it utterly terrifying but many of its ideas - premonitions, things in mirrors, a dummy that might have a life of its own etc. - have been repeated many times over the years to the point where this film will probably seem very quaint to a modern audience. Indeed, one may find oneself trying to second-guess the film and create better twists in the storylines than the ones that actually occur (certainly it's easy to spot some opportunities for a few extra scares in some of the segments). However, if approached with the right attitude then it's an enjoyable anthology piece that manages to unsettle even after 60 years.

Ealing Studios is of course best remembered for it's comedies and there's certainly a strain of good humour running through parts of this film, most notably in the absolutely barking golf segment ("May the Lord have mercy on your handicap!") which is really very funny (even if the idea behind it - that a woman would allow herself to be a prize for two golfers to play for - is too fantastical for words). However, this film is by and large meant to be frightening and there are still several moments of hair-raising tension sprinkled throughout. Whilst the actors now seem terribly stiff and far too well-spoken (though look out for a young Michael Redgrave as the ventriloquist), the direction more than compensates with interesting camerawork and use of lighting. The segment about a man seeing "something" in a mirror is by far the best one and may very well send shivers up your spine, even if the music is a bit too overblown (whilst the other segments are oddly bereft of much in the way of incidental music - much to their benefit).

At the end of the day, it's perhaps best to view "Dead of Night" as more of an historical document or curiosity as modern viewers coming to it hoping for thrills and genuine scariness will be left disappointed. However, if viewed in the spirit of its original context then it's easy to see why it gained the reputation that it did. The print used on this DVD is good quality and at a fiver (current Play.com price) it's worth a go.

 First of its kind and by far best.

| | See all nikinoonoo's reviews (346)

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This eerie Ealing film was the first to have several stories within the one story.Mervyn Johns plays Walter Craig a man who believes he is living the same events over and over.We go on a terrifying journey with him and we hear five peoples' stories.fantastic!One of the best films ever made in my opinion

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ActorsMervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall, Googie Withers, Frederick Valk, Anthony Baird, Miles Malleson, Basil Radford, Peggy Bryan, Renee Gadd & Michael Redgrave
DirectorAlberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden & Robert Hamer
CertificatePG
Year1945
ScreenFullscreen 4:3
LanguagesEnglish - Dolby Digital (1.0) Mono
Duration1 hour 42 minutes (approx)
RegionRegion 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players.