Dead of Night (1945)

“You see, everybody in this room is part of my dream. Everybody.” A highly influential British horror anthology film from Ealing Studios, Dead of Night involves a group of disparate guests at a country house – several of whom relate personal supernatural experiences. One of the guests, architect “Walter Craig” (Mervyn Johns, best known as “Bob Cratchit” in the 1951 version of Scrooge), believes that he has encountered all of the others in a recurring nightmare and senses impending doom. Personally I enjoyed “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” and “Christmas Party” segments best, thought “The Hearse Driver” and “Haunted Mirror” were adequate, and rather disliked “Golfing Story” (its comic nature just feels out of place with the other stories). Best of all is the ending where all the stories are tied together in a creepy finale. The film also stars Michael Redgrave (outstanding as the disturbed ventrioloquist), Googie Withers, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall, Anthony Baird, Ralph Michael and Sally Ann Howes (“Truly Scrumptious” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Four directors were involved in the production: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer. Believe it or not, U.S. distributors cut out the “Christmas Party” and Golfing Story,” thereby totally confusing audiences during the ending sequence. In his 2009 article “11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time” for The Daily Beast, Martin Scorsese placed Dead of Night at No. 5, calling it “A British classic … each [tale] extremely disquieting, climaxing with a montage in which elements from all the stories converge into a crescendo of madness.”

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