NIGHT SLAVES (TV movie)-synopsis
Clay Howard (James Franciscus) is seen telling Matt Russell (Scott Marlowe) that he is quitting the business and selling his half to his partner (Matt). Saying he is going out for a drink to celebrate, we see Clay in a car accident that lands him in the hospital.
Matt arrives and greets Clays wife Marjorie (Lee Grant) who is waiting to hear from the doctor on Clays condition. He asks if she had mentioned anything to Clay about the new relationship between Matt and Marjorie. She says not yet. At this point the doctor comes in, telling them that part of Clays skull was crushed and had to be replaced with a steel plate. He will need time to recover.
Clay and Marjorie are seen driving some time later on a short vacation. They pull off the road and enter the town of Eldrid, California, stopping at a gas station for directions. Fess Beany (Andrew Prine) is seen examining the headlights of parked cars and wandering aimlessly around.
Meanwhile in the diner, a woman (Sharon Gless) tells the proprietor Mr. Fletcher (John Kellogg) she is leaving for the big city. He says she is welcome and to come back. He brings coffee to Clay and Marjorie who are seated at a table. Slumped over another table is another man who is awakened by Fletcher. He gets up, pays his bill and leaves, just as Sheriff Henshaw (Leslie Nielsen) enters. Approaching the table, the sheriff tells Clay that Fess Beany turned his car lights on, explaining that is typically the thing Fess does daily. He asks Fletcher if his daughter Annie (Tish Sterling) will be home later. Fletcher tells him he had better marry the girl soon. Henshaw says he will after he gets a pay raise.
Clay and Marjorie take a room in a boarding house run by Mrs. Crawford (Virginia Vincent). Clay is heard telling his wife he thinks about the two people he killed in the car accident. She tells him it was just an accident, but he is not sure. Marjorie gets in bed with him and they go to sleep.
Dreaming about the wreck, Clay awakes in a cold sweat. He is drawn to the open window where he sees people being taken away in trucks. Turning to speak to Marjorie, he notices she is gone. Sitting in his room is Annie, who informs him that his wife is down there with the others. Rushing down to where Marjorie is stepping into the back of a truck, he tries to get her to come back with him, but she makes no response. Clay is pulled back by a man and falls down. The truck drives off with Marjorie and a number of other people.
Bewildered, Clay looks around, finding the town empty. He goes to the sheriffs office, noticing that no one is there. Cell doors are open. As he returns to his room, he sees Annie looking down from the room window. When he gets to the room, she is gone. He gets into bed and goes back to sleep.
In the morning he wakes to find Marjorie sleeping beside him. Fletcher goes to the sheriffs office and reports that his wife and Annie are missing. Meanwhile, Marjorie listens to Clays description of what happened last night, saying she doesnt believe it. Even he starts to think it was a dream, although very vivid and seeming real. Mrs. Crawford brings in coffee on a tray. Clay questions her about events of last night and the trucks that took people away. He tells her he saw her down there, walking around without her cane. Marjorie scolds him and makes excuses to Mrs. Crawford, saying that he isnt well.
After telling his story to Sheriff Henshaw, Clay asks if he has ever been in the building before. The sheriff says no, he has not. Clay insists on seeing the jail cells. Inside is a man in a cell the sheriff says was arrested last night for drunken behavior. Clay says no, he was the one who knocked him down and loaded Marjorie on the truck.
Outside, Fess watches as Clay examines a truck with muddy tires and burrs similar to the ones on Marjories robe this morning. He is approached by Mr. Hale (Morris Buchanan) who asks about his interest in the truck (which is for sale). He asks more questions which puzzle Hale. Marjorie urges Clay to leave town. He promises her that if nothing else happens that night that they will leave. They go for coffee.
Later Marjorie is seen on the phone talking to Matt, who encourages her to go along with Clay. He tells her it will all be over in the morning and promises to come if she needs him to. Clay comes in and asks if she was talking to Matt. She says yes, and they both affirm that they feel very much apart from each other.
That night Clay insists that they both keep awake. He agrees that if nothing happens he will admit it was all a vivid dream.
One hour later, trucks pull up and people begin loading onto them. Marjorie tries to sneak the key out of Clays pocket, but he wakes and catches her. Taking her to the window, he tries to show her what is happening, but she remains in a trance. Those in the trucks come up to the room and unlock the door, taking Marjorie and knocking Clay to the floor.
When Clay tries to pursue them in his car, he finds his tires flattened and Annie telling him she did it. He follows her to the General Store and begins asking questions. She tells him that Noel (Andrew Prine) is in charge and that it is all his plan. She has been told to watch Clay. He tries to get her to take him where the trucks have gone. She tells him that she is a technician and is not allowed to marry or have children. She warns him about hitting his head on the force field surrounding the town. When he hits the force field and recoils from impact, he sits down and she explains that she knows a lot about him and that he is attracted to her but fearful. After noting that they both are unhappy, she tells him there is a place for them billions of miles away and he wants to go.
Marjorie tells Matt on the phone that Clay still refuses to go home. Matt promises to come the following night and Marjorie agrees to hold on. Clay enters, talking about the mileage on the truck having advanced eight miles since last night. Marjorie shows him the names Noel and Naillil, which are the names of the victims of the car crash who died, Leon and Lillian, spelled backwards. As he ponders this, Sheriff Henshaw knocks and enters, showing a photo of two women. Clay identifies one of them as the girl who was in his room two nights ago, and with whom he spent some time last night in the street. Henshaw informs him the girl is Annie Fletcher who has been missing for 36 hours. Clay is told not to leave town.
Clay and Marjorie have a heart-to-heart talk about their relationship, including his knowledge about her and Matt. He confesses that at this point he doesnt care and will allow whatever happens to happen.
Two boys find the body of Mrs. Fletcher dead in a grassy area. The doctor determines only that she has been dead 36 hours and has some head trauma. Mr. Fletcher and the sheriff are cautioned by the doctor not to jump to any conclusions. Cause of death will have to be determined by the coroner. Threatening to take action against Clay, Fletcher is told to take it easy by the sheriff. Henshaw promises to keep his eye on Clay.
That night Clay stows away on one of the trucks. They are taken to an industrial facility where manufacturing is taking place. Pipes are being loaded onto a small cart. Clay blends in with everyone, observing all participating without them noticing him. He takes the cart for a drive and sees Naillil (Annie) who comes down a ladder to approach. She gets on the cart and they drive into a building where he asks more questions. She tells him she missed him and they kiss. About this time Noel (Andrew Prine) appears and tells Clay that he has become a problem and to follow him. Noel explains about the space ship that was damaged and forced to land on earth for repairs. The people are helping to repair the ship-something that the aliens would not be able to accomplish themselves. It is the steel plate in Clays head that prevented manipulation of his mind. He is placed in custody after refusing to denounce Naillil. She urges Noel to allow Clay to accompany them when they leave. He tells her no.
The next morning the sheriff sees Clay entering the boarding house and stops him. He is brought in for more questioning. After giving a false confession, Clay suggests they investigate the manufacturing facility. Deputy Spencer (Cliff Carnell) is told to go out to the area to carefully look around. Outside a mob is forming with Fletcher in the front. The coroner calls, telling Henshaw that cause of death was a heart attack. Henshaw informs Fletcher, saying there is no evidence of a crime. Fletcher and other men demand Clay be released so they can force a confession from him.
Matt drives up that night and enters the sheriffs office. He is told that the mob outside is waiting to get their hands on Clay, who is suspected in a murder. Matt identifies himself as lawyer for the Howards. When a rock is thrown through the window, Henshaw goes to call the Highway Patrol. He announces that the phone is dead.
Naillil comes to the jail, letting Clay out and telling him to be at the ship at 5:30 so she can beam him aboard. He answers that no one will separate them any longer. As they get in Clays car, they are stopped by the mob. Noel comes up in a truck, announcing that the ship is repaired and they are leaving tonight. He tells Clay that he will be released in the morning when everyone wakes up. Naillil is loaded onto a truck with the others and taken away.
The next morning Clay is released and denounces everything he previously stated. He and Marjorie go to the car to leave, with Matt promising to follow. Before Marjorie can get in the car, Clay drives off suddenly. A chase ensues, with the sheriff following and Matt and Marjorie behind them.
Clay drives to the field to meet Naillil. They rush together and disappear over the hill. When the sheriff and deputy arrive, they find two bodies on the ground: Clay is dead but Annie is alive. Henshaw wakes her and takes her away. Matt tries to keep Marjorie away, but she sees the dead body. Matt takes Marjorie away as an overhead shot shows the former landing site as a black spot on the land.