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on 29 April 2014
The original camera negative of DEAD OF NIGHT perished in a fire 60 years ago and so available prints have been very poor over the years. The restoration here is therefore all the more remarkable and the picture quality is outstanding compared to previous releases. The only negative is the very poor sound quality which frankly renders some dialogue inaudible. My old videotape recorded from TV 20 years ago is much better so I can't understand why this has happened. Possibly the soundtrack has deteriorated even more than the image? The film is a classic and a must-see for anyone interested in the genre. It is the finest 'ghost story' omibus on celluloid.
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on 4 November 2015
Finally DEAD OF NIGHT, which is one of the greatest of all supernatural films, is available in a transfer that does this benchmark film justice. I hesitate to call it a horror film as only two segments out of five would qualify. The rest of the movie features stories that alternate between the fantastic and the comic with a chilling central framing device that holds it all together. This genre known as a portmanteau or anthology film had its origins in German silent cinema with the 1924 expressionistic classic WAXWORKS which is set in a modern day wax museum and tells the stories behind different figures there. Here the year is 1945 and the setting is an English country house where five people are gathered together and then a sixth shows up and relates a bizarre dream involving all of them. That's the framing story. Several of the members then relate a story of something strange that happened to them hoping to persuade one of the guests, a skeptical psychiatrist, that dreams can be prophetic and that uncanny things do happen.

The first story involves a hospital patient who sees an antique hearse with the driver saying "room for one more". Then there's a ghost story set during a Christmas party. The third sequence about a haunted mirror has been copied many times most notably in the 1974 Amicus anthology FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. The fourth is a comic tale about two golfers featuring characters from Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES. The last, and most famous sequence, involves Michael Redgrave as a ventriloquist losing his grip on reality which was basically remade as MAGIC with Anthony Hopkins many years later. The movie concludes when it turns out to be a dream that is about to come true. For years DEAD OF NIGHT was only available in prints of varying visual quality but with an adequate soundtrack only. Now this new DVD (there's a Blu-ray also) gives us the best sounding soundtrack ever along with top-notch picture quality. The best transfer yet is the least that this classic British supernatural omnibus deserves.
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on 12 January 2018
A real horror classic, in which the showcase format is very intelligently managed, and the central idea of recurring nightmare delivered with a properly straight face: It must be serious - we're all Black and White and British (except for the German-sounding doctor) and it's only just after the war, when everyone was too relieved not to be being bombed to make anything up, no honestly...

Apparently there had been a wartime ban on horror movies, so some film makers must have been very glad of the opportunity to make something dark. Mervyn Johns is perfectly unsettled as the man with the dream, but the big hitters are Ralph Michael and Michael Redgrave as (respectively) the husband turned abuser by the evil mirror, and the ventriloquist in thrall to his (horrid) dummy. When I first watched this aged 12 I was distinctly spooked - it had been sneaked into the BBC2 sci fi season, though comfy early evening viewing this emphatically was not.

More than 30 years later, it has paled a little bit; the tone is uneven (there were four directors, and the segments were written by separate writers including HG Wells!), with the golf story in particular seeming too silly to sit with the others, and the 'lost boy' ghost story a little bit twee, but the mirror tale is thoroughly unsettling (it's about domestic violence), and the story of Hugo the vent's doll is a little masterpiece.
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on 13 March 2016
This is a review of the 2014 restored film release which I watched on DVD rather than blu-ray.

The film itself is marvellous and a key moment in the development of British horror cinema. The structure of the linking narrative and its relationship to the five stories has never been bettered. Some of the tropes such as the haunted mirror and the ventriloquist's dummy may seem like old hat now but this is where they began.

The restoration is absolutely splendid and the picture image is pin sharp again which really helps the atmospheric lighting that the cameraman and different directors were aiming for. There are some before and after examples in the extras that really spotlight how much painstaking work has gone into producing this high quality transfer.

With regards to the sound I didn't notice any problems with the clarity of speech myself. What is noticeable is the Home Counties received pronouciation of many of the actors which sounds strange to our 21st century ears. Very few people talk like that now.

Apart from the restoration examples and some production stills the other extra is a 70 minute talking heads piece about the importance of this film with contributions from several notable critics and horror aficionados including Matthew Sweet, Kim Newman, and Resse Shearsmith, all of whom are always entertaining and informative.

This is a superb DVD of a great British film that retains its power to chill over 70 years after it was made. And here it is to keep at less than the price of admission to any modern "jump scare" horror film.

Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 January 2018
The STUDIO CANAL/BFI DVD has an excellent transfer. Clear B/W picture, 4.3 ratio, with sound that is perfectly accptable if a little variable. Optionlal English Subtitles, a 75 Documentary feature and stills all go to make up a very fairly priced package. The film has a huge reputation as one of the all time great pure "ghost" portmanteaus, and even today, it can be recognised as such, with very slight reservations...Yes, it has dated, but the sheer professionalism carries it through, but I wish the "Golf" episode had been cut, much as I like the actors, because I found the casting and situation entirely unbelievable. The cast work well, particularly Mervyn Johns, Googie Withers, and Redgrave, and it was fun to watch (and listen to) Sally Ann Howes. Still worth owning and a fair price make this a bargain and must see for lovers of cinema and the aforesaid "Ghost" stories.
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on 22 January 2016
An architect is called to renovate an old country house. Upon arriving he meets a group of people who seem strangely familiar to him. They each have a supernatural tale to tell. He has a strange feeling he has experienced all this before and he has a feeling that something awful is about to happen.... This is a horror movie that is very scary. The tale with the mad ventriloquist is my favorite. I recommend this to all horror movie fans.
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on 20 March 2014
Great picture restoration and improved audio (mostly) compared to earlier DVD releases. Opening credit music is not good, but most dialogue scenes are fine thereafter. The picture quality is the clear winner - better contrast, solid blacks, and more detail revealed throughout. This does make the viewing of this old classic a more rewarding experience. Talking heads "extra feature" of various critics and fans discussing the film is pretty much preaching to the converted, but does add some useful background information and insights.
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on 25 December 2015
An architect is assigned to renovate a country estate. When he arrives, he meets a group of guests. He is certain that he has seen them before, as characters of his dream/nightmare. They all have a supernatural tale to tell and it is not long until something very bad happens.... This is a very good chiller. My favorite is the story about the mad ventriloquist. Great stuff.
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on 9 August 2015
LIfe is a dream within a dream and so on....someone said in some famous book. This old collective film from the 40s is still a masterpiece and a point of reference for horror filmography. An old british film that is all about macabre, grotesque and nitghmarish, atmospheric thrilling. It's in a way an ancestor of David lynch, who must have learnt a lot from that. Chill comes from unsettling situations, from dark, from strange dialogues and from uncommon details in common and everyday life scenes. A great remastering and 4 talented directors (including Cavalcanti and Charles Chricton, who later became a comedy expert, ending his career with A Fish Called Wanda). If you like horror you must have this one. Or you don't like horror
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on 18 October 2015
Wow what a creepy old film. Excellent stuff. Don't let the fact everyone is smoking like a chimney all throughout or they all speak in posh BBC voices put you off. This 1940's film made in the Ealing studios is certainly not a comedy (except the story about the two golfers, but they were comedy actors of their day). The film tells several stories told by each of the people gathered in an old farmhouse. Some ghostly and some just 'creepy'. I loved this film. I think they must have based the more recent film Magic with Anthony Hopkins on one of these tales about the ventriloquist and his dummy taking him over and causing murders !! Look out for a very young Sally Ann Howes of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame.
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