Dead of Night - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dead of Night Reviews

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½ November 3, 2014
The best kinds of horror movies are not ones that contain a sense of lightheartedness. There should be no jump scares, no happy endings, no room for sequels. It takes a lot for me to get truly frightened or unsettled; throwing a cat at the camera or watching a demented killer off dim teenagers is only worthy of a jolt and a laugh, but nothing more.
"Dead of Night" is the kind of horror film that gives the genre a good name. Before the 1960s, horror was mostly contained in B-movies that relied more on campy performances and a blackened visual style. They were always strange, but rarely terrifying. But like "Cat People" or "The Picture of Dorian Gray", "Dead of Night" is instantaneously successful because it taps into our vulnerable emotions, not our logic.
It's an anthology film, one that, unlike most, ties everything together in a neat package. Containing five different stories directed by four different directors, "Dead of Night" contains elements of the supernatural, black comedy, but first and foremost, a deep underlying sense of horror.
The framework of the film is simple but highly effective: an attractive group of strangers finds themselves invited to a weekend at a secluded country estate, all for unknown reasons. Their exchanges are perfectly pleasant, but one guest in particular is bothered by the entire situation. Everyman Walter Craig (Mervyn Jones) is highly confused; everything that is happening before him has happened before. The estate, the guests, and every movement has been the focus of a recurring nightmare.
It doesn't seem far-fetched, and as the guests begin to get to know one another, they share their own odd stories. One woman (Googie Withers) recounts her experience with a haunted mirror; another (Sally Ann Howes) recalls a run-in with a ghost at a Christmas party. As the film progresses, "Dead of Night" gets spookier and spookier, until it reaches a twist ending so devastatingly mind-boggling it only adds to the nightmarish feel of the film.
It's a brilliant horror movie because it's so unclear as to what we should be expecting. As some of the stories are more comedic than others, the darker they become the more unsettling the film turns. There's a kinship with "The Twilight Zone" that is unmistakably felt. There is no explanation of any of the events and there doesn't need to be. The tales in "Dead of Night" are macabre, some more than others, but like a good scary story you tell by the campfire, the effects are more potent when our own intelligence isn't involved.
The best vignettes hit so hard, they almost knock you off your feet. "The Haunted Mirror", which stars Ralph Michael and Googie Withers, is directed by Robert Hamer with claustrophobic style. Michael and Withers portray a married couple (Peter and Joan Cortland) who purchase a gothic mirror when decorating their new home. Peter is shocked to find that when he looks at his reflection, the setting that surrounds him is not his bedroom, but is instead a grand looking suite that looks straight out of a "Dracula" movie. It's full of mystery and magnetism, and Withers is particularly good as the confused wife who is forced to come to terms with her husband's unimaginable torture.
"Dead of Night"'s finest and most famous few minutes, however, come from "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" sequence. Starring a young (and terrific) Michael Redgrave and directed by Cavalcanti, it tells the story of a puppeteer whose dummy may or not have a mind of its own. Because it's never completely clear if Redgrave's character is completely insane or the puppet actually is possessed with some sort of life, the segment is all the more creepy. It's a quintessential story that's been revamped several times in the world of horror, but none do it better as the original. You can feel "Dead of Night"'s influence in nearly every scene; it's surrounded in a dreamlike state that makes for disturbingly quiet horror. It's a work of complete originality, and few can even begin to compare to its intricacies.
October 30, 2014
Ealing will for ever be associated with its celebrated comedies, but this chilling quintet deserves to be considered among the studio's finest achievements. Including stories penned by HG Wells and EF Benson, Dead of Night illustrates how ghost stories should be filmed. Alberto Cavalcanti's "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" episode has lost none of its shocking power, thanks largely to Michael Redgrave's astonishing performance, which ranks among the best of his career. There's also much to raise the hair on the back of the neck in Robert Hamer's "The Haunted Mirror", while the linking story involving architect Mervyn Johns brings the whole thing to a nightmarish conclusion.
½ May 5, 2014
Overall this is entertaining and worthy of the anthology tales of terror genre of movies. The "only room for one more" entry, the Hugo segment, and the ending make this exceptional.
April 25, 2014
A great atmospheric movie that's chilling and scary. Highly Recommended
December 19, 2013
A classic anthology of ghastly tales of misfortune and unexplained events, a bit zany in the middle but a horror must.
November 22, 2013
Fantastic classic narrative anthology of several paranormal stories that have not lost their edge even 70 years later. An archetype of horror stories.
½ October 30, 2013
This classic horror anthology has a decent enough collection of stories to please genre fans. My personal favorite involves a ventriloquist & a his toy dummy that may or may not be alive ???
½ October 12, 2013
The story arc and structure is brilliant, and it has a fantastic ending, but the film suffers from being a little too long, with several pieces of the anthology being pretty underwhelming and dull. That said, it is still a solid anthology and clearly very influential on the horror genre.
October 11, 2013
Interesting and sometimes amusing collection of short vignettes of a ghostly nature, each told by a gathering of strangers that keep reappearing in one of the men's dreams. Clever story, sort of like an old fashioned tales of the unexpected. Good film.
½ September 10, 2013
Absolutely marvellous British horror anthology film. There are some truly creepy bits and it's very atmospheric and sometimes laugh out loud funny.
July 14, 2013
An excellent film that needs a serious remaster and Blu Ray release. It plays with the viewer - sometimes a little scary others funny, almost silly..but can then turn around and be very disturbing. just like a nightmare. A true classic that shows good writing and acting beats a big budget anytime.
June 17, 2013
I was enthralled with this movie not knowing what to expect. The many twists at the end chilled me to the bone. I was thinking I was watching an episode of 'The Twilight Zone', and was pleasantly surprised to find out that this movie (1945) preceded the TV show, and most likely inspired it!
April 12, 2013
Solid anthology film that holds up pretty well. There are elements of its time such as a lack of subtlety in the dialogue and lots of melodrama but it equals some of the best Twilight Zone episodes. It also has a fantasticly creepy ending that takes the film above and beyond most horror films and makes it all worthwhile.
½ January 14, 2013
from Flixster's synopsis, "...the greatest horror anthology film..." If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I'd be inclined to scoff, particularly with story lines being meted out to multiple directors. But the praise is definitely merited. I'd have much rather seen it with Basil Dearden directing throughout, as the closing scenes of the film have cinematography and suspense that is (and hear this loudly) on par with the best work of Alfred Hitchcock. (Re-read that last bit again, if need be.)

Now, if you've not already seen it, consider yourself being taken to school AND GO WATCH THIS FILM.

½ January 6, 2013
Fascinating tale of a meeting between a number of individuals who tell stories with strange details. The first story revolves around a man who has nightmares that become a reality. The second of a man who can't see his wife in a mirror. The third story is of man who talks to a ghost of man in public who played golf with him and killed himself during a round. Finally, a story of a ventriloquist who has very detailed conversations with his puppet, on for which that is capable of murder. All tales are really interesting and well filmed, the script and cast are both quirky and entertaining, a really good combination. The United Kingdom delivered some fine mysteries during this era, and this along, with another 1945 film "And Then There Were None" rank most likely among the best.
½ December 22, 2012
The last segment is brilliant & MUST BE SEEN
½ December 9, 2012
A mild horror film containing five stories. The ventriloquist story was best and weird.
December 2, 2012
Fantastic, way ahead of its time and hugely influential.........if only they'd deleted the golf scene!
½ November 28, 2012
With an intriguing and somewhat terrifying set of stories which are all different and really good in their own way this is a movie that was way ahead of its time. The finale is awesome, it is well acted and I found the special effects to be impressive for a movie that came out so long ago.
October 31, 2012
Saw this Terrific horror film on Halloween on at the BFI
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