***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***
Dead of Night (1977)
Directed by Dan Curtis
Written by Richard Matheson
Ed Begley Jr.
Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson team up one more time in the 1970’s for an anthology, three fantastic tales to amaze, astound, and terrify the TV audience. The first story feels more like a Twilight Zone episode as a young man travels back in time in a 1926 automobile and accidentally effects his near future for the better. The next story has a successful estate owner in 1896 foster the town’s superstitions in order to capture his wife’s lover. The last tale, “Bobby,” follows a mother whose son had gone missing some months ago. It is assumed that he had drown when he was playing on the rocky cliffs near the beach. The woman is so distraught she uses a witchcraft ceremony to try and locate her little, Bobby. That night, during a raging storm, Bobby comes back, but he’s not quite the same. He has a nasty disposition and when the power goes out he torments his mother with several attempts on her life. There’s shades of Pet Sematary in this segment which is the best of the bunch. It has some moderate creepiness to it but its not going to scare your shorts off. As a whole this film doesn’t stand the test of time as well as some of the other made for TV horror flicks I’ve reviewed here.
The special features of the DVD includes an additional story/movie previously filmed for a TV pilot made in 1969, shortly after the success of Dark Shadows. Also named, Dead of Night, the series was never picked up by a network, but the pilot produced by Dan Curtis aired in 1969. It was quite melodramatic and not nearly as good as Dark Shadows or the later anthology, but leading man Kerwin Mathews playing a ghost hunter could have made for a nifty little series. It was definitely along the lines of The Night Stalker and The X-files. However it didn’t seem developed enough and I’m sure Curtis used lessons learned with this venture to perfect his vision for The Night Stalker.
Dead of Night was also the name of a 1945 horror anthology film, famous for being the first film using the horror anthology format. Dead of Night 1945 was a big influence on the co-founders of Amicus Films.
The segment “Bobby” was remade in the film, Trilogy of Terror II (1996)