DEATHDREAM ( Night Walk, Dead of Night, The Night Andy Came Home, Whispers)
Directed by: Bob Clark
Starring: John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Richard Backus
Reviewed By Michael Hauss
Way back when before the advent of DVD, I had this film on VHS from Gorgon video. The picture quality was bleached out and made for an unappealing view. Now don't get me wrong I thought it was a very good movie back then, but the DVD from Blue Underground is an amazing upgrade and quite honestly it's like watching a totally different movie. The work put into this by Blue Underground had to be substantial and to think that this film could ever look this good was unfathomable to me, until the viewing of this DVD. I realize that the film was released by Blue Underground around 2004 and has been in my possession for many years, it was never a film I felt like revisiting because of the first bad impression quality wise I had of it on VHS. The DVD has informative feature length audio commentaries by the director Bob Clark and the screenwriter Alan Ormsby, recorded separately, plus many other extras, including a short feature on Tom Savini, called "The Early Years."
|I'll show you who's boss, adorable house pet!|
This film had many different titles including DEAD OF THE NIGHT, THE NIGHT WALK and THE NIGHT ANDY CAME OUT OF HIS GRAVE. This film per the DVD cover "marked the grisly debut of Gore effects legend Tom Savini." (at the time he was working with Alan Orsmby on Deranged so it may have been simultaneous-Crank).
The parents of a young man named Andy are devastated by the news that their son has been killed in the war and the father Charles (John Marley) while grief stricken manages through, but the mother Christine (Lynn Carlin) freaks out and becomes transfixed in denial of his death, pleading for her son to return to her. So when Andy returns home in his uniform looking like death warmed over, but alive, the parents are obviously overjoyed. Andy locks himself away in his room, turning away his friends and family who come to visit him. After a shocking incident where Andy kills his beloved pooch in front of some neighbor kids, he is taken to see a physician, who makes a startling discovery, that being that Andy has no vitals statistics, he's dead. Before the doctor can report this, Andy kills him and withdraws his blood, injecting himself with it. The ending with Andy going to the Drive-in with friends is fantastic and a great ending to this fine film.
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The team of Bob Clak and Alan Ormsby first film CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (USA, 1972) was a fun but boring horror film, technically weak and amateurish, this film is quite an upgrade in all facets of the game. The acting here is outstanding lead by the great John Marley as the father and a fine nuisanced performance by Richard Backus as Andy.
With the Vietnam war recently concluded this film to me seems to be saying that the young men returning from the war were dead inside, so programmed to violence that they had become immune to the death and destruction around them and at times the violence would be carried over into their civilian life.
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The direction is handled ardently by Clark and a fine thought provoking script by Ormsby really fuels this low budget gem. The score by Carl Zittrer was very unconventional but grew on me as I viewed the film. The film is a dark, grimy post war drama that showed how soldiers along with their families were inflicted by the trauma of war. The makeup by a young Tom Savini and Alan Ormsby is outstanding and not overly Gore heavy, the effects are indeed low key but still quite disturbing.
|Turn off the engine will ya, I'm not finished yet|
One thing of note is the very generic opening which obviously is shot in Florida standing in for Vietnam and a different actor standing in as Andy, which is explained in the commentary. The story is based on the famous short story 'Monkey Paw' written by W.W. Jacobs, the premise of the story has been used countless times in film including most famously in PET CEMETARY (USA, 1989).
The director Bob Clark would go on to direct one of the earliest and finest slasher films in BLACK CHRISTMAS (Canada, 1974), a terrific Christmas film in A CHRISTMAS STORY (USA, 1983), a fun coming of age film PORKY' S (USA, Canada, 1981) and one of worst pieces of shit of all time in RHINESTONE (USA, 1984). Alan Ormsby directed the fine horror film DERANGED (USA, CANADA, 1974) which was based on the life of the notorious killer Ed Gein.
I found this film a moving and disturbing experience that stayed with me after viewing it. A bit of a slow burning character study, but with fine acting performances, this little horror drama is a film I can highly recommend.
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