Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dead of Night


Directed and produced by Dan Curtis (Trilogy of Terror, Burnt Offerings), Dead of Night contains 3 tales from a failed anthology television series. In the first story, “Second Chance”, car enthusiast Ed Begley Jr. purchases a rare 1926 car body from an old farmer. The farmer tells Ed that the car comes with a sad history. In 1926 the car’s owner was racing a train, miscalculated and he perished along with his girlfriend. Ed promises to restore the car to its former beauty and he makes good on this promise (restoration montage), even using the original license plates. Once completed Ed decides to take it out for a spin, but he only wants to ride on roads that the previous owner would have driven on 50 years ago. Somehow this transports Ed to 1926 where he is given the opportunity to change the past.

In “No Such Thing as a Vampire” the wife of a wealthy nobleman is slowly being drained of her blood while she sleeps, or so she claims. The only evidence is two tell-tale puncture marks on her neck. Although she is convinced that she is being visited by a vampire during her slumber, her medical-minded husband is skeptical. Freaked out by her claims of vampirism, the house servants all quit leaving the nobleman and his wife alone in the large mansion. Eventually monsieur nobleman invites a friend over to help watch over his wife during the night in an effort to solve this puzzling situation.

In the final and best story, “Bobby”, a grief-stricken mother gets more than she bargains for when she turns to the black arts to restore the life of her deceased son whose body was never found. Initially she is elated when her son shows up on her doorstep, soaking wet and shivering; however elation soon turns to terror as she learns the hard way why it’s not a good idea to bring back the dead.

I gave Dead of Night an extra Gretch because of the final story, the only true gut-punch “horror” story in the lot. The Ed Begley Jr. story might as well be an episode of Amazing Stories and the “vampire” story turns out to be a whole bunch of hooey. Like Trilogy of Terror, the third story is the real treat here but you have to wait 45 minutes to get to it. I miss the 1970s when we were treated to stuff like this on a near-weekly basis.


Catfreeek said...

Great review JPX. That last picture really looks like the payoff, very cool.

Octopunk said...

I wonder if Dan Curtis had a death bed realization: "I should have made the whole movie good!"

Check this out. I just looked up Dead of Night on imdb to find out if Dan Curtis was alive (no), and Deathdream was originally called Dead of Night. So the brothers X-Pants just consecutively reviewed movies with the same title. Coincidence! Or IS it?

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Very interesting. JPX you owe me a coke.

Everything about the middle story annoyed me, especially the picture. Am I the only one who's had it with vampires?

JPX said...

Yeah, I've really never liked vampire stuff, with a few exceptions of course. That second story would totally annoy you.