Day 2 of Queue De Grâce is here at Spectacular Optical and Cole of vitagraph, american has another old timey horror film for my viewing pleasure. It’s a British portmanteau from 1945 called, DEAD OF NIGHT!
I had never heard of this one before but I was ready for another spook show from days gone by. The opening got me pretty stoked with some killer music, names like Googie, Esmé, Basil and Naunton in the credits, and the familiar yet comfortable “group of strangers get together to exchange stories” set up. But once the stories started it seemed like the clock stopped as my enthusiasm waned.
Watching DEAD reminded me of THE TWILIGHT ZONE but it failed to really suck me in like Mr. Sterling‘s late 50s television show. Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of anthology films (or short story collections for that matter) and this expertly made classic was not immune to my disinterest in the format.
I enjoyed the linking narrative more than the individual tales of the supernatural and found my mind drifting back to the awesome Frederick Valk as Dr. van Straaten and his wacky, but authentic, Mitteleuropa accent during some of the less engaging sequences.
I was happy that Valk had a small part in the last and arguably best story in the film, THE VENTRILOQUIST’S DUMMY. Of course the real stars were Hugo as the misanthropic dummy and Sir Michael Scudamore Redgrave as his tormented ventriloquist. I have a sneaking suspicion Cole chose this film especially for this segment…knowing I’d sit through this Tootise Pop of a movie just to get to it’s delicious center.
So, with all that being said here’s the breakdown…
Things I liked:
- Dr. van Straaten
- The Linking narrative
- The Ventriloquist’s Dummy sequence
- According to Wikipedia: The circular plot of DEAD OF NIGHT inspired Fred Hoyle’s Steady State model of the universe, developed in 1948
Things I disliked:
- That it was an anthology film
- 3 out of 5 stories left me cold
- Sally Ann Howes as Sally O’Hara
As Hugo says, “Goodbye, sleep tight and wake up sober.”
Oh wait before you go, here’s a teaser for what tomorrow has in store…looks promising!