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Dead of Night (Deathdream) - Blue Underground Print E-mail
User Rating: / 6
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Written by Richard Taylor   
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
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BUY DEATHDREAM ON DVD

AKA: Deathdream, Night Walk, The Night Andy Came Home, The Veteran, Muerte de la noche, Soif de sang, The Night Walker, Crimen en la noche, Painajainen, Le mort-vivant, Kynigito thanatou, HalŠlos Šlom, La morte dietro la porta, Mannen šr farlig, Skršckens stad, Whispers

Directed by:
Bob Clark
Written by:
Alan Ormsby
Produced by:
Bob Clark, Peter James, John Trent
Cinematography by:
Jack McGowan
Editing by:
Ronald Sinclair
Music by:
Carl Zittrer
Special Effects by:
Tom Savini
Cast:
John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Richard Backus, Henderson Forsythe, Anya Ormsby, Jane Daly.
Year:
1974
Country:
USA
Language:
English
Color:
Color
Runtime:
1h 28min

Studio: Impact Films, Quadrant Films
Distributor: Gorgon Video, Blue Underground

Bob Clark is a Canadian directing phenomena to me, not only pumping out some of the best Canadian horror films ever made but dipping into other genres such as comedy and family films and succeeding with the transition. Another director that comes to mind is Sam Raimi, and yes, maybe Clark never reached the notoriety or status as such but he has forever found a fan boy in myself and many others I'm sure. I can't sit down one year and not watch A Christmas Story with my family and then at night indulge in his other holiday horror opus Black Christmas. Then there's Porky's, an infamous comedy hit that everybody knows due to a certain well known shower scene. Canadian horror is a rarity as it is and should be embraced by all. Clark always has goofy humor added in to lighten the mood too but can faithfully dive right back into the visceral white knuckle terror. That's one thing I like about his work. This film is probably most known as Deathdream as it was re-released by Blue Underground.  It's a Canadian sleeper hit and has obtained cult status by fans alike. This copy I've watched with the title Dead of Night, has an atmosphere of absolute dread, the music has a depressing drone to it, acting performances are great and it contains most of the trademarks Clark has been known for.

The film was released in 1974 and focuses around the Vietnam War and the pain it caused a lot of families at that time who lost loved ones in the war. Filmed in a little town called Brooksville, a community which was actually torn apart in real life by the Vietnam War due it taking the lives of many young men in the town. Bob Clark produced and directed the film, its powerful, some might call dated, not very gory even with early mediocre effects work by Tom Savini, he does make Andy look rather sinister in a decayed state I must say.

The intro is supposed to look like a dark jungle backdrop with machineguns and bombs exploding. This is where we see Andy trying to help his fellow soldier friend, who gets shot and ends up in the same situation himself. Itís a great creepy intro. Then we go back to Brooksville and Andy's home where his family are sitting at the table having dinner. Andy's dad, played by John Marley (The Dead Are Alive), is wonderful and his mother played by Lynn Carlin (Faces) is even better talking about him frantically at the dinner table worrying her daughter and husband. Then a knock at the door and the fateful letter arrives announcing Andy's death. His mother will have nothing to do with it and doesn't believe it for a second that he's dead. Later that night her husband watches her chant Andy's name by candlelight in her rocking chair, saying she doesn't believe he's dead and telling him to come home. Late in the Dead Of Night they get a knock on the door and surprisingly itís him. They all want to embrace him like before but itís not the same Andy anymore. He is cold, calculated and unaffectionate. Andy doesn't want a welcome home party and doesn't want to let anyone know he's home yet. In one creepy but humorous moment his father says to him, "Pretty rough over there son?" and Andy replies, "Over where?" even indicating he was dead and came back to life.

The film does have a quirkiness to it. There are some goofy characters in a particularly foolish diner scene and an annoying mailman who made me want to kill myself, a man who served in the war but is very insensitive, rude and annoying to those who served in Vietnam just by the way he talks about it. When the postman asks Andy about his friend Darren who was killed in front of his eyes, it causes him to snap, with the mentioning of the boy not sending a letter to his family in a long time.  Probably the most chilling scene in the film involves Andy being uncomfortable surrounded by neighbourhood kids bombarding him with questions about fighting in the war, asking if he killed anyone and how many. One of the kids play karate chops Andy and he roughly grabs his arm. Then the family dog gets mad at Andy, so he grabs the dog by the throat, holding it up with these gleaming brutal eyes while he strangles it with his bare hands in front of the children. After this, Andy's father despises him and wants nothing to do with him. He can't understand why Andy is acting the way he is and itís frustrating him more and more. His wife, who is obviously upset about the dog herself, in one particular scene, still insists on her son's wellbeing. In an obsessive manner she backlashes at her husband's words about her son.

Things get worse when the cops find a dead truck driver who picked up a hitch-hiking soldier. This gets on the news and Andy's Dad starts to get thinking. He calls his family doctor to pay a visit to Andy and the doc believes he is acting very strange. Andy pays the doc a visit himself and takes "care" of him. We find out Andy is decaying at a rapid rate and needs human blood to keep him alive and functioning. At this point, Andy's family are falling apart, but his father still loves him and tries to lure the police away to protect him, but the inevitable takes hold.

The final sequence in the film has Andy reuniting with his past lover before he went away to Nam, which is a strange reunion on a double date at the drive in theatre. Here everything takes a turn for the worse as Andy starts literally melting and needs fresh blood to sustain himself. After a chase from the drive-in, Andy returns home and his mother drives him to a place where he will be safe -- the cemetery. There is an alternate ending available in one version during the conclusion where Andy's mother says "some boys never come home." This version just has his mother clutching him in a grave while the police stand around them baffled.   

The movie gets a solid recommendation from myself. Dead of Night is a moody, atmospheric well done horror picture that succeeds on all levels. Newcomer Richard Backus does a great eerie job playing Andy and John Marley is superb as his straight laced cynical father.

 

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 RATING:
 MOVIE: 1 
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