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The Best Transfer Yet.
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.