Dead of Night Reviews

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October 14, 2012
A supernatural anthology with a wraparound story that actually is a sum of its parts. The best two segments include a mirror that reflects a room where a murder was committed and a ventriloquist with a malevolent dummy. This is a spooky classic with one of the freakiest finishes I've ever seen. I must have watched the final nightmare sequence four or five times because I couldn't get over how strange it was.
If you want to watch an effects-laden or gory horror movie, do not watch this. This is all about mystery, mood and atmosphere.
October 14, 2012
An anthology of scary stories with a great "twist" ending. This British production tells tales from funny, to bizzare, to down right creepy (the ventriloquist dummy anyone?). But they are not just seperate stories. Everything is connected and that's why it works.

Grade: A-
October 10, 2012
4 classic eerie supernatural thriller.
½ August 11, 2012
In my humble opinion, the mirror segment was the most spooky.
July 26, 2012
Cracking bit of classic horror!
May 17, 2012
The kind of horror movie you don't see anymore.

Thanks to every director's own view, every episode has a special look and feel that contribute to making this feature an all-time classic.
April 23, 2012
They don't make em like they used to. Classic British anthology, with one of the creepiest segments I've seen, about a ventriloquist dummy (possibly the original ventriloquist horror story?)
April 22, 2012
Bloomin' creepy and often amusing, this Ealing classic chiller is not to be missed!
April 10, 2012
An almost perfect anthology movie with a damn fine wrap-around.
Super Reviewer
½ March 7, 2012
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).
½ February 23, 2012
I cannot recall a single British horror film I've liked. I give up.
November 23, 2010
Re watch: chilling final story with Maxwell and Hugo.
December 23, 2011
Dead of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, et al., 1945)

I've spent months studiously avoiding writing a Dead of Night review, because I'm at a loss what to say about it. I've never been a big fan of Ealing (compare Alexander MacKendrick's work when he was an Ealing guy to what he was able to produce in Hollywood-one of the very few examples of Hollywood importing a director and actually getting him to produce better work than he did overseas), but I'd heard enough about Dead of Night over the past thirty-odd years that I figured I needed to give it a try. To my surprise, it wasn't half bad, and thus my confusion.

Dead of Night, an anthology film, was trotted out in order to show off the talents of four of Ealing's rising directorial stars: Cavalcanti (Went the Day Well?), Robert Hamer (Kind Hearts and Coronets), Charles Crichton (A Fish Called Wanda), and Basil Dearden (Victim). The four of them film six stories, all told (including the linking narrative, about a guy whose recurring dream seems as if it's coming true, which incites the other guests to tell the movie's tales), from writers like H. G. Wells and E. F. Benson (all uncredited, natch).

The linking narrative involves an architect (The Day of the Triffids' Mervyn Johns) who goes off to a country house, where despite a distressing sense of deja vu, he is encouraged to stay by the guests, who alternately encourage him to fight against feeling as if he's bound by the rules of a dream he had just like this and tell tales of their own supernatural experiences.

None of these things are overly scary, especially these days, and you've seen most of them done better (a few were reprised quite well in Twilight Zone episodes, for example), but it's a well-made film, and an extremely stylistically coherent one for being the work of four directors; the only other anthology film I can think of that has this much stylistic integrity despite being the work of multiple directors is 2005's Rampo Noir. These days it's more worth seeing for the quality of acting and direction than it is for any stray scares that may come along, but of all the Ealing movies I've seen, this is the best. ***
October 20, 2011
The puppet story line is what got this movie 4 stars up in till then I was not that interested in what was happening and then it grabbed my attention till the end.
May 21, 2011
Part compilation horror part mindfuckery, Dead of Night is an obvious influence to later horror filmmakers and a great film in its own right. The ventriloquist dummy steals the show.
April 16, 2011
One of the finest films made from the golden age of Ealing comedies, Dead of Night is not a comedy but it does certainly have elements of the genre most associated with its studio. It was a portmanteau horror film infour parts directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Chichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer. whilst never standing up to the scares of modern day horror films, there are some chilling moments and all parts of the film are directed splendidly. Special mention must go to Cavalcanti's ventriloquist dummy film starring Michael Redgrave in what many believe to be his finest on-screen role. Dearden's "Hearse Driver" scene may be the most scary segment of the film with the famous British character actor Miles Malleson as the hearse driver/bus conductor. Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne turn up in a bizarre golf story and this is the most comedic episode and fits in well with the rest of the film. Hamer's "The Haunted Mirror" is also extremely successful in eliciting a heavy dose of scares. The film has been extremely influential over the years being a direct link to studios such as Amicus and the Tales From Beyond The Crypt films as well as contemporary artists The League Of Gentlemen. A timeless masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 13, 2011
The horror potmanteau that spwaned them all which, today, is still the best. Five short stories and a linking narrative, varying from dark to light to very dark. Many later British horror portmanteaus, particularly by Amicus, trace their roots back to this excellent picture. Ground breaking.
November 25, 2010
Achieves the desired impact. I would classify it as a psychological thriller!
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