Night Creatures (1962)

APRIL 2, 2009


You could probably fill up an entire book with alternate (and often misleading) titles for horror movies. Such is the case with Night Creatures, which was originally the far less foreboding Captain Clegg. Apparently, Night Creatures was going to be Hammer’s title for an adaptation of I Am Legend, but that fell apart. However, they still needed to provide a picture called "Night Creatures" to America, so they slapped it on Clegg, despite the fact that there are no creatures and almost none of the movie takes place at night.

Strangely, Captain Clegg only appears once you know the twist ending, so I guess they never had a good title for this thing. Sure, the man is referenced and all, but the movie is more or less about some soldiers (led by who I believe is Cap’n Crunch) trying to uncover the mystery behind his death. As it turns out, he’s not dead, he’s just living under an assumed alias.

Of course, this isn’t too difficult to figure out once you meet the town’s parson (that’s priest, for those who were always confused by the lyrics of "Frosty the Snowman"), who is played by Peter Cushing. You know Cushing’s not gonna be some lame ass priest, so it’s great once his identity starts to become clear and he can start fighting and swinging on chandeliers and such. Luckily, even in priest mode he’s pretty entertaining, cracking wise and being wonderfully passive aggressive with the soldiers.

Also on hand is Oliver Reed. He’s actually the romantic lead, and shockingly non-drunk (at least, his character isn’t). There’s even a scene where a guy begins to rough him up and the soldiers take the other guy away to “sober him up” - I am quite certain it’s the first (and last) time Reed has ever been on the other side of that situation. The movie as a whole is kind of an ensemble; Cushing gets top-billing but I think Cap’n Crunch has the most screen time. At any rate, it’s unusual to see a hammer film like this, most of them focus on one or two folks, but here everyone gets a meaty role.

Unfortunately it’s just kind of slow. Things get off to a good start, with some ghostly horse-riders in the middle of the night, but they don’t appear again until it’s almost over. The rest is more or less people being British with one another and occasionally shooting at “scarecrows”. It’s entertaining to a degree, and had I known about the title shenanigans BEFORE I watched the movie I’d probably be more receptive to its horror-lite story. I like pirates.

One thing I don’t like, however, is the blatant cheat when it comes to the ghost riders. In wide shots, they are clearly ghosts - you can see through them and their horses have no legs (it looks like they are riding Jack Skellington’s dog). But then you find out that they are all mortal guys wearing costumes (who wants to bet M. Night Shymalan saw this movie?) and riding regular horses, which means that they shouldn’t be see-through - there’s nothing supernatural about the movie at all. But then, after this has already been made clear, director Peter Graham Scott cuts to another wide shot of them riding through a meadow, and they’re opaque again! What the hell, man?

This finishes up my Hammer Franchise Collection set. I need another! Anyone know of other Hammer collections (at least four films)? I have a few other single disc movies (including one or two on VHS that I still haven’t watched), but boxed sets are so much more enticing. And also cheaper - I got these 8 movies for 20 bucks, which is like getting six free.

What say you?


  1. Wow, man, been reading the site for over a year now and this will be the one to get me commenting here...So I own this set too (frantically traded in some other DVDs the day this set was released, just to afford it), and am a pretty big fan of Hammer films in general. They're opulent, but never really decadent, if that makes any sense, and I don't think the style's ever been tried again...sigh. SO, I guess now I have to ask, have you seen all the classics? I don't really want to search through everything you've seen during HMAD, but I know I've seen quite a few on here...I just can't remember which ones.
    Here is probably the best set you can get
    However, there is this Dracula set, and oh man, if you haven't seen it, Dracula A.D. 1972. THIS is essential weird cinema from a big name at the time. So baffling...
    And because you like pirates...
    Cheers, and I'll keep readin'!

    P.S. Pray for me, my gigantic behemoth of a cyclops of a tube TV died last night. Mourning and re-bound TV searching are much abundant...

  2. the parson is in walking in a winter wonderland, not frosty the snowman

  3. You should mention that this film is a very close remake of the 1937 film DOCTOR SYN starring
    George Arliss. The story is taken from Russell Thorndyke's series of Doctor Syn stories. Walt Disney made some Doctor Syn stories as THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH for his Disneyland TV show. Patrick McGoohan played the title role. Apparently Disney held enough of the copyright that Hammer changed Dr. Syn's name to Dr. Bliss.

  4. A bit late to add to the party, but here goes. The scenes with the night riders actually aren't cheats. The riders wore black leotards, but with the skeletons painted on with that reflective paint they use on roads. This meant that they didn't have to do any expensive post-production stuff on the film. Good, isn't it?


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