OCTOBER 9, 2009
After hearing that one of the stories in Dead Of Night was an inspiration for Dead Silence, I immediately queued it up on Netflix. But I didn’t pay any goddamn attention, so instead of the 1946 version with a killer doll story, I got the 1977 television Dan Curtis one, which is indeed an anthology movie, but no killer doll story. Instead, it features one good story after one that's really dull and another that’s not even a horror tale.
That would be the first one, which stars Ed Begley Jr. As he was not yet an enviro-nut who only drives cars that run on sunlight or sweat or used napkins or whatever the fuck, he cheerfully plays a guy who likes to restore old cars that probably get 5 miles per gallon and drive them around, much to the dismay of his mother, who he still lives with. One day he goes for a drive in his newest restoration, and suddenly finds himself transported back 50 years. While he wanders around town, someone “steals” his car, and his attempts to stop the guy fail. He then goes to sleep and wakes up back in his own time. Six months later, he is happily in love with a girl who turns out to be the daughter of the guy who stole his car. But as it turns out, it was the guy’s own car, and had Begley not jumped out in front of him, the owner and his wife would have gotten killed in a wreck a few minutes later. So essentially, the universe decided that Ed Begley Jr needed to get laid and went about ensuring that he could via the most complicated and roundabout way possible. It would make a perfectly fine filler episode of Twilight Zone, but as part of a horror anthology, it’s downright baffling that they’d not only include it, but kick off their movie with it! And there’s no wraparound or book-ending segments either, so when you add in the fact that I thought I was getting a 1940s movie, I began to wonder if I was watching an actual horror movie at all.
The 2nd story eased my fears, because it was about vampires. But it’s dreadfully boring, and it largely boils down to a guy killing the dude that’s been cuckolding him. That denouement is fine, but even though it’s actually the shortest of the three tales, it feels the longest, primarily due to its lack of any sort of suspense. It also lacks actual vampires (it’s more about a guy’s fear of them) but I can’t really fault it for that since the title of the goddamn thing is “There’s No Such Thing As Vampires.” Ah, title irony.
Finally we come to “Bobby”, which is the film’s saving grace. Sort of like Pet Sematery, it depicts what happens when shitty parents try to feel better about their lack of paying attention by resurrecting the child that got killed when they were supposed to be watching them. And as always, it doesn’t go well. What makes it work is how goddamn creepy the kid is when he comes back, and it wastes almost no time in showing us his intentions. His simple “How many doors are in the house?” kicks off a pretty suspenseful cat and mouse sequence around the house, and features a nice batshit ending to top things off. It’s almost worth slogging through the other two stories to appreciate this one all the more, though I am sure it’s just as good by itself (it must be, since it’s one of THREE filmed versions of the story at least).
The disc comes with the most baffling extra I’ve ever seen on a disc: another movie! Actually it’s the pilot to a show Curtis was trying (and failed) to launch about a team of paranormal investigators. Being trapped on a plane I actually thought it was longer than the film itself, but it’s standard late 60s show length (52 minutes). This particular episode is about real estate, but don’t let that fool you - it’s really boring. It’s filmed like a soap opera, just to make matters worse I guess, and anyone who fails to see the “surprise” ending is possibly a drunken 4 year old with limited cognitive skills. Also on the disc are deleted scenes from the vampire story (so this goddamn thing was even LONGER at one point?) and an isolated score, which is a nice feature of DVDs that you almost never see anymore. They’ve even taken them out of existing DVDs when double-dipping (such as The Thing - and to make matters worse that score isn’t even available on CD anymore!).
I should note that this is my first HMAD entry to be watched whilst 38,000 feet in the air. As I had no time prior to my flight, and figured my family and friends would rather I spent time with them in the brief time I was in town (literally about 4 hrs) than watch me watch horror movies, I opted to watch my movie on the plane thanks to my good friend Ryan Rotten and his trusty portable DVD player (I really should get a laptop). Fellow members of Flight 363 - I apologize for not providing a better film for you to glance at as you waited in line for the bathroom (I was near the back).
What say you?