Dead of Night (1945)
Critics Consensus: With four accomplished directors contributing, Dead of Night is a classic horror anthology that remains highly influential.
No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Considered the greatest horror anthology film, the classic British chiller Dead of Night features five stories of supernatural terror from four different directors, yet it ultimately feels like a unified whole. The framing device is simple but unsettling, as a group of strangers find themselves inexplicably gathered at an isolated country estate, uncertain why they have come. The topic of conversation soon turns to the world of dreams and nightmares, and each guest shares a frightening event from his/her own past. Many of these tales have become famous, including Basil Dearden's opening vignette about a ghostly driver with "room for one more" in the back of his hearse. Equally eerie are Robert Hamer's look at a haunted antique mirror that gradually begins to possess its owner's soul, and Alberto Cavalcanti's ghost story about a mysterious young girl during a Christmas party. Legendary Ealing comedy director Charles Crichton lightens the mood with an amusing interlude about the spirit of a deceased golfer haunting his former partner, leaving viewers vulnerable to Cavalcanti's superb and much-imitated closing segment, about a ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave) slowly driven mad when his dummy appears to come to life. Deservedly acclaimed and highly influential, Dead of Night's episodic structure inspired an entire genre of lesser imitators. … More
as Maxwell Frere
as Walter Craig
as Joan Courtland
as Eliot Foley
as Mrs. Foley
as Dr. Van Straaten
as Mrs. Craig
as Joyce Grainger
as Mrs. O'Hara
as Hearse Driver
as Sally O'Hara
as Jimmy Watson
as Dr. Albury
as Peter Courtland
as Hugh Grainger
as Sylvester Kee
as Harry Parker
as George Parratt
as Larry Potter
as Mary Lee
as Maurice Olcott
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Critic Reviews for Dead of Night
There's some genuinely skin-crawling stuff tucked away: some ghastly business with a ventriloquist's dummy, and one of the creepiest invitations from a bus conductor ever.
Ealing will for ever be associated with its celebrated comedies, but this chilling quintet deserves to be considered among the studio's finest achievements.
The narrative arc is bubbling over with some spooky nightmarish fervor.
Producer Michael Balcon turned each individual episode over to a different director and, told via flashback, they're equally good.
A dead scary horror movie that skimps on the blood but not the goose bumps,
The form was to be revived on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1960s. But Dead of Night is the best.
Nearly 60 years on, Ealing's compendium of spooky tales remains scary as hell.
The anthology film's clever structure allows even the weakest of the sketches to be effective, because there is less of a need to balance the impact of each story.
First-rate British chiller
Its scares are grounded in our suspicion that not every ghost is a trick of the light and not every goosebump can be explained by a drop in temperature...
One of the creepiest movies of all time and a great way to compare different directing styles.
Cavalcanti's contribution might be the finest single episode to appear in any horror anthology film.
A pioneering horror classic, and still one of the most successful anthologies to date.
Audience Reviews for Dead of Night
A super-psycho-natural flick. For a 1945 flick, the scripting seems quite advanced. Not the best, but definitely worth a watch (and maybe even more entertaining if you can resist looking for plot-holes).More
Many of the reviews I've read over the years of "Dead of Night" seem to sideline the "Christmas Party" episode as being less successful and effective than the other stories involved. At first, I tended to agree with them; however, after a while it dawned on me that there was something rather unusual about the sequence that I couldn't quite place my finger on. Normally, in a ghost story, any part of the story containing the appearance of the ghost looks rather unreal in comparison with the everyday part to underline the supernatural aspect of the spectre's apparition. However, in this particular story, it's the (real) children's party that looks unreal, and the (supernatural) ghost that looks real. The party shows a massive house, with a roaring log fire, loads of toys, food, etc, and the children enjoying themselves enormously, without any adults present. It has the look of a fantasy of the perfect party any child would want. However, the meeting with the young boy seems more rooted in reality, and this is the irony of the story - that Constance Kent, the sister he mentions, actually did exist and did admit to killing her younger brother. In real life, the boy was actually a baby when he was murdered, but his age has obviously been changed so that Sally could talk to him. This gives an extra poignancy to the story, in that he likes Sally and presumably would have wanted her for his real sister, but instead had Constance, who killed him - the worst crime she could have committed against a helpless child.
I think it would be wrong to overlook this sequence as unworthy of comment, and reassess its value in "Dead of Night". It may not be as frightening as the famed ventriloquist story, but it does carry an emotional power which is perhaps its strongest point.
Precursor to later episodic horror (i.e. TV's Night Gallery and The Twilight Zone). Five house guests recount their nightmares to each other with each one a little more sinister than the last. A spine-tingling horror classic that scared me as a child and still today creeps me out.More
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