Dead of Night (Devil's Advocates)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Released a matter of days after the end of the Second World War and a dozen years ahead of the first full-blooded Hammer Horror, the Ealing Studios horror anthology film Dead of Night featured contributions from some of the finest directors, writers and technicians ever to work in British film. Since its release it has become evermore widely regarded as a keystone in the architecture of horror cinema, both nationally and internationally, yet for a film that packs such a reputation this is the first time a single book has been dedicated to its analysis. Beginning with a brief plot précis 'road map' in order to aid navigation through the film's stories, there follows a discussion of Dead of Night's individual stories, including its frame tale ('Linking Narrative'), a consideration of the potency of stillness and the suspension of time as devices for eliciting goose bumps, an appraisal of the film in relation to the very English tradition of the festive ghost story, and an analysis of the British post-war male gender crisis embodied by a number of the film s protagonists. The book includes a selection of rarely seen pre-production illustrations for the film by its acclaimed production designer, Michael Relph.
hate, all your memory, all your pain – it was all the same thing. It was all the same dream. A dream that you had inside a locked room. A dream about being a person. And like a lot of dreams there’s a monster at the end of it.’ (Detective Rust Cohle [Matthew McConaughey], True Detective: The Locked Room [# 1.3] HBO 2014) Whereas ‘Linking Narrative’ bore a passing resemblance to E.F. Benson’s The Room in the Tower’, ‘Hearse Driver’, the first and shortest of Dead of Night’s nested stories, is
place, much like Scrooge’s encounters in the book. Unlike Scrooge, however, Sally can interact with the ghost of the young Francis Kent. Whilst Dickens’ famous Christmas tale is ultimately comforting and has been increasingly sentimentalised through its various screen adaptations, it is worth noting that the idea of the death of a child is central to the effectiveness of the story. Also noteworthy is that Dickens followed the story of the murder of Francis Kent closely, indeed was one of the more
uninitiated. Whether you are completely new to Dead of Night or a seasoned fan of the film, our wish is that you will find enough in what follows to either seek out a first-time viewing opportunity or dust off your copy and watch it again with fresh eyes. Either way, by the end, if there ever is an end to all things Dead of Night, we would like to think that you are that little bit closer to knowing just what makes it scary. ‘A NIGHTMARE OF HORROR’ ‘You see, everybody in this room is part of my
trauma after the Second World War, neither was it a portrait of the unspeakable and unspoken-of horrors of the wartime experience. It was not made to be defined by its place in the history of cinema or to define subsequent films. Those are the things we bring to it, understandings which enrich our view and appreciation of it and contextualise it, which allow us to dissect and understand the world which created it, and they are no less valid for that. But the film’s reason for existing is purely
that to commence. BIBLIOGRAPHY Aristotle (1993) De Anima Books II and III Trans. David Hamlyn Oxford: Clarendon Press Balcon, Michael (1969) Michael Balcon presents…a Lifetime of Films London: Hutchinson & Co. Balter, Leon (2010) ‘Dead of Night’ The Psychoanalytical Quarterly LXXIX (3) 753-784 Benjamin, Walter and Underwood, J. A. (2008) The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction London: Penguin Carroll, Lewis (1871) Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There Available