137 - Dead of Night (1945)

An architect visits a house where he realises he has previously dreamt about the inhabitants.

After his arrival at the house, Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) has 'lightning' remembrances of the occupants and can eerily predict much of the night's events.

Each occupant tells their own story of psychological terror before Walter remembers how it is all supposed to end...

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
I remembered when I watched the end of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and was utterly distraught at how it had preceded one of my favourite endings of all time by 90 years. Dead of Night has exactly the same effect, but on a far grander scale.

It is a compendium of sorts (yes, how very Edgar Allen Poe), telling various individual's stories which ultimately build up to the final brutal ending. Each story has influenced a whole manner of films from Inception to the Final Destination franchise and for this reason I was aware from 5 minutes into the film exactly how it was going to end. That said, it didn't stop it from being any less shocking.

Having seen that I was to be watching a PG rated horror I chuckled to myself. Graphically, there is nothing in Dead of Night that is remotely frightening with the directors preferring to leave everything down to psychology. In this respect, children probably won't have the slightest clue what is going on while adults sit quivering on the sofa hugging the nearest cushion as the dramatic music leads to the scene that is thoroughly expected.

Remember, you've seen it all before in modern films; everything you expect to happen, does happen. You expect it, you watch it, you still wonder how a combination of dramatic music and stiff-upper-lip British accents can force you to crap yourself. Even Saw's antagonist Jigsaw was far less creepy than Hugo Fitch.

Simply one of the great psychological compendiums of all time. I just wish I was around in 1945 to watch it before these newcomers stole all the themes!