Nothing But the Night (1973)

Article 2790 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-27-2008
Posting Date: 4-3-2009
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Featuring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Diana Dors
Country: UK

Trustees for a fund that benefits an orphanage are being killed off one by one. When a botched attempt to kill three of them results in the hospitalization of some of the children from the orphanage, it is discovered that one of the girls is suffering from vivid nightmares about an event she couldn’t have lived through. Meanwhile, the mother of the girl (who was in prison for murder when her daughter was taken away) vows to get her back.

This movie was the sole release from Christopher Lee’s Charlemagne production company. The movie has a very low reputation, and for about the first half of the movie, I felt that its reputation wasn’t justified. However, that feeling dissipated as the movie progressed. Basically, most of the movie is a smokescreen covering up the central plot mechanism (which, incidentally, is given away in practically every reference book I’ve read on the movie), but it’s one of those plot mechanisms that needs better care than it is given to make it believable, and the rushed ending and ill preparation it is given here makes for a finale that just falls apart. Had the movie spent less time bothering with the subplot with the girl’s mother, it would have easily had the time to work on the real story. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing do the best they can under the circumstances, though it seems to me that the movie bends over backwards at times to keep Cushing central to the plot. It’s a shame; this could have been an interesting movie. Incidentally, the fantastic content is the final revelation which I won’t give away here, but it moves the movie into science fiction and horror directions. As a clue, I can only say that when a doctor describes the nightmares of the little girl as seeming to be those of a different person entirely, he’s onto more than he suspects.


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