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Dead of Night (1945) – Episode 31 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Just room for one inside, sir.” Hearing this, you might be relieved to discover there’s still room to accomodate you. On the other hand, if the speaker is a hearse driver, it would send chills up your spine. Join your ever faithful Grue Crew for this episode – Chad Hunt, Jeff Mohr and special guest Whitney Modesta Collazo – as they manage to avoid riding in a hearse, but still get caught in the neverending story framing the legendary British horror portmanteau, Dead of Night (1945)

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 31 – Dead of Night (1945)

As an anthology, Dead of Night consists of five independent shorts tied together by a powerful framing story, all of which creates a flashback within a dream within a dream. The five separate stories are The Hearse Driver (d. Basil Dearden, story by E. F. Benson), The Christmas Party (d. Alberto Cavalcanti, story by Angus MacPhail), The Haunted Mirror (d. Robert Hamer, story by John Baines), The Golfer’s Story (d. Charles Crichton, story by H. G. Wells), The Ventriloquist’s Dummy (d. Alberto Cavalcanti, story by John Baines), and the framing sequences directed by Basil Dearden. The film includes memorable performances from Michael Redgrave, Mervyn Johns. Googie Withers, Miles Malleson, Basil Radford, and Naunton Wayne.

Dead of Night, though not the first horror anthology film, set the standard for the anthologies that were to proliferate in the 1960s and 1970s. Also not the first ventriloquist and his dummy horror film, the influence of The Ventriloquist’s Dummy can be seen in media from an episode of The Twilight Zone (1962) to Magic (1978) and to Dead Silence (2007).

This episode’s Grue Crew were completely won over by Dead of Night and universally thought The Ventriloquist’s Dummy was their favorite piece. They each thought the framing sequence was ingenious and might well be their favorite of those used in all horror anthologies.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), selected by Chad Hunt.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

 

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Deathdream (1974) – Episode 60 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Something unspeakable has come home.” Not only is it unspeakable, but it has already died once. Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions. In the interim, your regular host, Jeff Mohr, is joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director, and Chad Hunt, comic book artist/writer and co-host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast. Join them as they follow the members of a family wracked by the effects of the Vietnam War in Deathdream.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 60 – Deathdream (1974)

The second of director Bob Clark’s three horror films, Deathdream (aka Dead of Night) is sandwiched neatly between Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 12) and Black Christmas (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 34). Written by Alan Ormsby, the film tells the story of Andy (Richard Backus), a Vietnam War veteran who is killed-in-action and yet returns home the same day his family gets the news of his death. Though the death notice is not a mistake,  Andy’s parents (John Marley and Lynn Carlin) and sister (Anya Ormsby) assume it is, and celebrate his homecoming. As his physical condition deteriorates and his behavior gets more and more bizarre, Andy’s father brings the local doctor (Henderson Forsythe) home to take a look at his son. As the film progresses, Andy’s decay increases and the body count rises.

The foundation of Deathdream’s story is planted firmly in W. W. Jacobs’ 1902 short story, “The Monkey’s Paw.” In other words, be careful what you wish for! The story might also be seen as an allegory delving into the additional trauma experienced by returning Vietnam War veterans, stigmatized by society and struggling with PTSD, and the effect that trauma has on their family and friends.

Tom Savini partners with Alan Ormsby to provide the film’s effective, low budget makeup effects. Andy’s progressive decay is successfully depicted as he moves from seemingly normal to a rapidly decaying corpse. Deathdream is not a fun watch.This episode’s Grue Crew give the film a unanimous thumbs up with the following caveat: The filmmakers successfully tell a very depressing story. Deathdream is not a fun watch.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.