Dead of Night (1945)

Approved   |    |  Drama, Horror


Dead of Night (1945) Poster

Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality. The guests at the country house encourage him to stay as they take turns telling supernatural tales.


7.7/10
10,543

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Cast & Crew

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Directors:

Alberto Cavalcanti , Charles Crichton , Basil Dearden , Robert Hamer

Writers:

John Baines (screenplay), Angus MacPhail (screenplay), T.E.B. Clarke (additional dialogue), H.G. Wells (original story), E.F. Benson (original story), John Baines (original story), Angus MacPhail (original story)

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User Reviews


27 July 2006 | Camera-Obscura
A prime example of a well-made horror-anthology
Anthology n.: a collection of selected literary pieces or passages of works of art or music.

This classic horror-anthology from Britain's Ealing Studios is composed of four separate stories, composed around a group of strangers that is mysteriously gathered at a country estate where each reveals their chilling tale of the supernatural. But even after these frightening tales are told, does one final nightmare await them all?

The horror-anthology has proved a difficult sub-genre, usually made with only limited success, because it's notoriously difficult to get it right. If only one of the stories fails to deliver, the whole piece is dragged down. But this multi-part horror effort from Britain's Ealing Studios still proves to be very effective and justifiably still is one of the most revered and successful horror anthologies ever made. It features appearances by many of the best British actors of it's day, including Mervyn Johns, Ralph Michael, Basil Radford and Michael Redgrave. With four different directors at the helm, not all four segments are equally effective and are quite different in tone, but they are all good in their own right. The standout for me, not judged in terms of the best, but certainly the most frightening story of the four, is "The Ventriloquist Dummy" by Brazilian born Alberto Cavalcanti (he's simply billed as Cavalcanti), the only non-British director involved in DEAD OF NIGHT. Michael Redgrave plays a renowned ventriloquist who descends into an abyss of madness and murder, when his dummy takes on a life of his own. One of the most unsettling stories I've ever seen.

The somewhat less effective (if only slightly) mirror sequence by Robert Hamer shows something very scary can be achieved with very basic means. When Ralph Michael looks in the mirror, to his horror he keeps seeing the reflection of a dark Gothic room lit with candles, completely different from the room he's standing in and slowly, he begins to loose his mind. Ultimately, it is the extremely unsettling music score that makes it work. Basic but very effective.

As with most anthologies, it's difficult to keep track of the main interwoven storyline, because between the different stories we're told, your mind is still very much trying to grasp what you've just seen. This is probably why the genre became increasingly unpopular over the years. With the exception of "The Ventriloquist Dummy", don't expect anything particularly scary, but it did leave me quietly disturbed. The peerless British cast and the witty, slightly old-fashioned tongue-in-cheek dialog makes this very pleasant and appropriately unsettling viewing.

Camera Obscura --- 8/10 --- 10/10 for "The Ventriloquist Dummy"

Critic Reviews



Did You Know?

Trivia

What Sally is told of Francis Kent being murdered by his sister is based on true events. Francis (aged nearly four-years-old) was murdered at Road Hill House in 1860. His half-sister Constance (sixteen at the time of the murder) was arrested and put on trial in 1865. After serving twenty years in jail, she was released and emigrated to Australia, where she died at the age of one hundred, only one year before the release of this movie. In 2008, author Kate Summerscale released a book titled "The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher", with the theory that Constance had either not acted alone or had falsely confessed to shield another member of the family. There was also a movie based on the book, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder at Road Hill House (2011).


Quotes

Eliot Foley: Ah! Walter Craig?
Walter Craig: How do you do? You're Eliot Foley.
Eliot Foley: That's right. So glad you were able to come, let's have your bag.
Eliot Foley: We'll put the car away afterwards. You know it struck me after I'd telephoned you, rather a cheek on my part asking a busy architect ...


Goofs

As Peter Cortland stands looking into the mirror his wife-to-be has bought him, the stripes on his tie run from his left side, down to his right. A reverse shot shows the stripes on his tie running in the same direction; obviously not a mirror image.


Alternate Versions

The UK release is 105 minutes long and features five stories (The Hearse Driver, The Christmas Party, The Haunted Mirror, The Golfing Story, and The Ventriloquist's Dummy). When originally released in the USA, two of the stories (The Christmas Party and The Golfing Story), were removed to shorten the film to 77-minutes. Later reissues and television version reinstated the missing segments.


Soundtracks

Light of Foot
(uncredited)
Music by Carl Latann

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | Horror

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