Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


DEAD OF NIGHT (1977 telefilm). Director: Dan Curtis.

Curtis followed up his ratings-successful telefilm Trilogy of Terror with this second anthology of horror stories, which was also the pilot for a projected series. In "Second Chance," scripted by Richard Matheson from a Jack Finney story, a man (Ed Begley Jr. of Eating Raoul) restores a car in which a couple was killed years ago, and discovers that it can drive him all the way to the past to prevent their deaths. Ann Doran from It, The Terror from Beyond Space has a supporting role.  "No Such Thing as a Vampire," which Matheson scripted from his own short story, features a fake vampire murder plot, and boasts some very good performances from Patrick Macnee and Horst Buchholz. "Bobby," written by Matheson, also has fine performances from Joan Hackett and Lee H. Montgomery in a story about a grieving mother who thinks she's called her drowned son back from the grave. The story has a good ending, but it is neither frightening nor moving, which you can pretty much say about the movie in general. Curtis remade "Bobby" even less effectively in Trilogy of Terror II. Robert Cobert's score is mediocre and does nothing to help the telefilm.

Verdict: Reasonably entertaining if very minor horror anthology. **1/2.


Matthew Bradley said...

I must agree with you that despite some compensations (e.g., Macnee's performance, and the opportunity for Matheson to adapt a story by friend and colleague Finney, whom he later invoked in SOMEWHERE IN TIME), this is a lesser effort by all concerned. It's a shame that neither of these pilots resulted in the proposed series, which was tentatively titled either DEAD OF NIGHT or INNER SANCTUM. We can only imagine the delights a weekly dose of horror from Matheson and Curtis would have provided...

Of possible interest is the fact that "No Such Thing as a Vampire" had previously been adapted--but not by Matheson, as some assert--as an episode of the now-obscure BBC-TV series LATE NIGHT HORROR. Child actor Montgomery was, of course, previously seen in BEN (the sequel to the original WILLARD) and the Curtis feature BURNT OFFERINGS. "Repeating everything you say..."

By the way, if you come across any specific information regarding Matheson's alleged involvement with the RICHARD DIAMOND series, please let me know; I was never able to substantiate that.

William said...

Thanks for the info, Matthew! I haven't seen Matheson's name in the credits for "Richard Diamond" so far but I may have missed it. I have one more season to go and I'll see if his name pops up.

Again, thanks for your comments. Best, Bill