The Horror Honeys: Evil kids, vampires and Ed Begley Jr.

Evil kids, vampires and Ed Begley Jr.

A Supernatural Honey Retro Review

Dead of Night (1977)

If I asked you who Dan Curtis was, would you know? If you were a child of the 70s and/or a huge nerd, you probably do. Dan Curtis brought us such TV gems as Dark Shadows, the original Night Stalker and Night Strangler movies. He is also responsible for a little movie every horror fan has seen, Trilogy of Terror, starring Karen Black. I happen to be a huge fan of Curtis’ work, but then again, I love TV horror of the 70s. Dead of Night somehow passed me by until a twitter friend recommended it. Actually, he was was recommending another film of the same name, also an anthology, from 1945. I got confused when I saw them on Amazon so I just bought them both. 

As I mentioned, Dead of Night is an anthology. It contains three stories, completely unrelated. The one thing that differentiates this from other anthologies is the lack of a wraparound story to tie things together. All three stories are written by horror/sci fi legend, Richard Matheson.

The first is called “Second Chance” and stars Ed Begley, Jr, when he was trying to be a serious actor. He purchases a classic roadster to restore. He discovers the car had been totalled, killing its passengers, while trying to race a train. After the restoration, he takes the car out for a drive and somewhere down a lonely road he is transported back in time. While there, the car is stolen. He attempts to thwart the thief, but he only manages to slow them down for just a second. This delay is what gives the car its second chance, which is discovered when he ends up back in his own time. 

This segment is my least favorite of the three. It’s a little slow and entirely narrated by Ed Begley, Jr. Listening to him speak is like eating paste, bland and tasteless. It also looks like the entire thing was filmed with Vaseline on the lens, kind of like watching any news segment with Diane Sawyer. You know what I mean.

The second segment is “There’s No Such Thing as Vampires” and stars the brilliant Patrick MacNee as a man whose wife is being attacked nightly by a vampire. He tries to dismiss the notion, but the people of the village are terrified. His only defender is his butler, played fantastically by Elisha Cook, Jr. 
What transpires is not supernatural or particularly scary. Sadly, this segment was not fully fleshed out. What could have been a really tense and horrifying story turns out to be a waste of some great actors. It’s far too short and feels like a ton of stuff was cut; feeling like someone took a hammer vampire film and cut out all of the stuff about vampires. Still, no one rocks an ascot like MacNee.

The third and final segment is “Bobby.” This is by far the best of the bunch. A mother (Joan Hackett), distraught over the death of her only child, Bobby, attempts a little black magic to return him to her. The problem is what she brings back only looks like her son. What happens next is a thrill ride. 
I’ve made no secret of my fear of children. That fear is only second to clowns. Kids are fucking scary, especially when they look innocent. This kid is hell-bent on a little familial revenge. You may recall a TV movie from the 90s called Trilogy of Terror II, three stories, all with the same actress as lead, a la Karen Black. This is one of the segments they remade. While it was good, it doesn’t have the same feel of the original. 

Being this was made for TV, it’s void of any real gore so there is little to review in the way of special effects. It was made in the 70s and it looks it. Aside from the overall feel of the last story, it is super dated. Even the vampire segment, which is period, looks like a period piece made in the 70s.
Of all of the wonderful things Curtis delivered, this would not rank in my top… anything. The only thing that saves it is “Bobby.” That little devil scared the crap out of me.

Supernatural Honey Verdict: 2.5 pairs of bellbottoms out of 5