Dead of Night (1945)

Dead of Night (1945), directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Robert Hamer and Basil Dearden.

This early horror anthology leaves a lasting impression. Influential on later efforts, Milton Subotsky said it was a "blueprint" for Amicus Production films such as The House That Dripped Blood (1971) and Asylum (1972).

The framing story is of a man who arrives at a country house and says the people there are all in his recurring dream. Trying to be kind to him they suggest that perhaps they don't really exist. They shouldn't joke about that.

He predicts things that come true and says the evening will end in nightmare. We believe him.

The stories the others tell:

The Hearse Driver. Scary dreams can come true: a foreshadowing.

The Christmas Party. Ghosts can be with us even as we are unaware of their nature. (This was based on a true incident of child-murder in the 19th century; the real names are used).

The Haunted Mirror. Who is looking back at you?

The Golfer's Story. A ghostly comic interlude with the great team of Charters and Caldicott of The Lady Vanishes (1938) and Night Train to Munich (1940).

The Ventriloquist's Dummy. A much imitated scenario: dummies are scary dolls, the men who operate them are not well-balanced, and there is always the hint of the supernatural or even demonic. Is it possible that thing is really alive?

Score by Georges Auric, photographed by Douglas Slocombe, one of his first films.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. The video has prominent damage in spots, particularly vertical scratches.

Detailed commentary track.