Dead of Night (1977)
Directed by Dan Curtis

Starring Anjanette Comer Joan Hackett Lee Montgomery Patrick Macnee

Directed by Dan Curtis and written by Richard Matheson, the TV anthology horror film "Dead of Night" was a no brainer for a DVD resurrection. Produced sometime after the passing of Rod Serling's "Night Gallery," it may have been intended as a pilot for a TV series. But the stories simply weren't as strong as what Serling was cooking up around the same time with his now classic horror series.

Like Curtis' more successful "Trilogy of Terror", the film ends on its strongest note -- with an evil kid horror entry that probably inspired Stephen King's "Pet Semetery." But more on that later.

The first tale is easily the weakest. A classic car enthusiast restores an old car, drives it down the street and goes -- back in time! We learn that an incident he experienced during his trip to the past may have saved the life of the parents of his future wife! Meh.

The second tale is a little better, but it has a horrible "twist ending." Patrick MacNee plays an aristocrat back in history whose wife he suspects is being bitten by a vampire. He enlists the help of a friend and ... well, I don't want to spoil the twist ending too mcuh, weak as it is.

Which leaves us with "Bobby" the last tale, easily the strongest. Devastated by the drowning death of her young son, a mother (Joan Hackett) turns to witchcraft to resurrect him from the dead. Alone in her gigantic home following her ritual and obviously not someone who read the "Monkey's Paw", she greets her newly reborn son Bobby (Lee Montgomery, star of "Ben"). But, as King would later describe in his classic novel, "Sometimes dead is better." The boy is a cruel, homicidal maniac who means to do her in after a game of cat and mouse.

This story does have a nice, chilling ending -- and it makes "Dead of Night" worthwhile. But if you buy or rent the film you may just want to fast forward to the final tale. The first two leave much to be desired.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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