Friday, February 6, 2009

DEAD OF NIGHT

In the Sixties and Seventies, producer-director Dan Curtis’ name was synonymous with gothic horror, especially on television. He was the creator of the cult soap opera DARK SHADOWS, the producer of the original NIGHT STALKER TV movies, and produced adaptations of DRACULA and other horror classics for the broadcast networks. He also crafted some spooky anthologies for the medium, including the legendary TRILOGY OF TERROR (also available from Dark Sky) and this one, DEAD OF NIGHT.

Like TRILOGY OF TERROR, DEAD is made up of three short films, and also like TRILOGY, the third and final one is the best. The first story, adapted from a Jack Finney story by Richard Matheson, is a non-scary, TWILIGHT ZONE-type tale about time travel, starring a young Ed Begley Jr. (TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000). The second story, "No Such Thing As A Vampire," has Patrick Macnee (THE AVENGERS, THE HOWLING) as a man who fears his wife has become the victim of a bloodsucker. The final story, "Bobby" has a mother using black magic to restore her drowned son to life, only to discover that the phrase, "be careful what you wish for" is, at best, a definite understatement.

Dark Sky’s DVD presents the 73-minute telefilm in its original full-frame, 1.33: 1 aspect ratio. Image quality is very good for a TV movie of this vintage, with bright colors and solid blacks. Extras include deleted footage and outtakes from the second story, an extended opening title sequence, and a selection of musical highlights from the film, composed by Curtis regular, Robert Cobert.

The big bonus feature is the full 52-minute DEAD OF NIGHT: A DARKNESS AT BLAISEDON, a 1969 television pilot from Curtis. Shot on primitive videotape (like his then-popular DARK SHADOWS soap), BLAISEDON doesn’t look that great on modern digital video, but the story about a paranormal investigator (Kerwin Matthews, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD) spending the night in a haunted house, is spooky fun. This unsold pilot co-stars actress Maj Dusay (STAR TREK TOS: "Spock’s Brain") and also includes appearances from some familiar DARK SHADOWS thesps: Thayer David and Louis Edmonds.

If you’re a fan of DARK SHADOWS or TRILOGY OF TERROR, DEAD OF NIGHT is recommended. Dark Sky has once again done an exemplary job on a relatively obscure cult title, and it’s well worth checking out.

BUY: Dead of Night