Halloween Horror Binge: Day 7: Dead of Night (1945)
A classic horror anthology appearing on many best-of lists and horror documentaries, but one I had yet to see. Dead of Night influenced The Twilight Zone and what we think of as TZ-style storytelling. One of the sequences, about a ventriloquist and his dummy, even inspired an episode of TZ (“The Dummy”). I’m also guessing that though this is not the first use of dummies and dolls, it’s the one that popularized their use in horror.
A well-made film, with some genuinely creepy moments, including a few that take place in a cell and offer images as striking as those from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) or Nosferatu (1922). One shows a contorted and still Michael Redgrave, and another feels like an influence on the ghouls in Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls (1962).
The movie uses a traditional frame tale for an anthology film, but does it better than most. The whole thing collapses on itself similar to a Borges story or how time gets used in much more recent films like Triangle (2009) or even Groundhog Day (1993).
Tomorrow: Death Kiss (1932), the not-so-scary movie Lugosi and other cast members made after Dracula.