Dead of Night (1977)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 10, 2012  | 
Beyond | Region 4, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 73 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Dan Curtis
Starring: Anjanette Comer, Joan Hackett, Patrick Macnee, Ed Begley Jr.
Screenplay: Richard Matheson
Country: USA
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As a kid, I always loved getting books from Scolastic Books Service, and I always grabbed anthology tales of terror and suspense. I quickly became a fan of Lovecraft and Poe's anthologies, and because of this, I have always had a special place in the blackened piece of meat I call a heart for anthological films. Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside and their ilk have always caught my attention. With that in mind, one of the first 'horror' films I ever saw late at night on TV was a haunted/possessed house story known as Burnt Offerings. Now I didn't know it at the time, but it was directed by a man known as Dan Curtis, a man who also directed an anthology I loved called Trilogy of Terror. These films have always had a special place in my memory, and so the opportunity to review another anthology by Curtis was one I happily took up.

Dead of Night was first shown on TV in 1977, and whilst Curtis' touch is apparent, it never gets to the quality of the aforementioned films. The queer thing about this disc is the stories aren't presented as one feature, but instead can be selected from the menu as three completely separate short films, so I can't comment on how they may have originally been presented on TV. Sufficed to say though, if you do purchase this disc, I imagine only the story called Bobby will ever be selected more than once.

The first story is titled Second Chance, and features the acting talents (HA! I kid of course) of Ed Begley Jr, playing a university student who restores old cars in his spare time. He purchases a car from a farmer who has had the car in his barn for years, after the driver and his girlfriend were killed in an automobile accident. He spends time restoring it, and eventually is able to take it for a drive, but the car (cue Scooby Doo music) mysteriously takes him back in time where he has it stolen from him. He has to walk home, falls asleep on his front porch and wakes up in the present day, but something has changed. Will it be for his benefit?

This first story is tedious and dull, and with a plot 'twist' so predictable that only the recently lobotomised will truly be shocked.

The second tale is titled No Such Thing as a Vampire and stars Patrick McNee as the lord of a manor house which is being terrorised by a vampire. You really will enjoy guessing the identity of the vampire, and the eventual plot twist. McNee acts… well as he always has, with much aplomb and stiff upper lip. It is a below average story, but gets a little credit for feeling slightly Hammer-ish in its presentation.

The final tale is titled Bobby, and is about a woman (Joan Hackett) who uses witchcraft to bring her son, Bobby, back from the dead. But the now returned Bobby has changed…

The last story is probably the best of the tales, but rings so much of the other Dead of Night aka Deathdream, that for this reviewer it loses a lot of its cred.
This disc is presented in its made-for-tv 4:3 aspect ratio. While the image is fairly sharp the source material looks its age, covered with more artefacts than Indiana Jones's basement.
The sound is adequate and presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.
Extra Features
Absolutely nothing. What is a real tragedy is that Beyond haven't taken up the extras from the US release from Dark Sky Films, which included deleted scenes and outtakes, Robert Cobert's Dead of Night stereo music score, a still gallery (yawn) and Dead of Night: A Darkness at Blaisedon TV pilot from 1969. A shame really considering other than the tale "Bobby', it would have at least been a worthwhile purchase.
The Verdict
It tries… and it tries so hard, but it is just not very good. If you want to see something of Dan Curtis', do not start here, track down Burnt Offerings or Trilogy of Terror instead. Really, this film is for Curtis or Ed Begley Jr completists only.
Movie Score
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