Inspired by Joe's kick-off Halloween flick, From Beyond the Grave (1973), I thought I'd go back to one of the early horror anthologies, Dead of Night, a 1945 British film from Ealing Studios. Collections of short stories had been around since the earliest films (Waxworks from 1924 for example, was composed of 3 short horror stories), but the structure and content of Dead of Night would come to influence many subsequent films and TV series (the Twilight Zone, for one) and some consider it one of the great horror films.
One of the problems with Dead of Night is its narrative structure. Each of the characters tells their own tale and the viewer is therefore aware that they must have survived the horrors they faced. It zaps the individual segments of some potential tension, but it must be remembered that this was 55 years ago so you need to cut the film some slack. The surreal, avant-garde ending is terrific and plays well all these years later, even if some of the individual tales come off a bit flat. That dummy still gets under my skin.
Unfortunately, the DVD release of this film is long out of print (and once again, the title trades online for stupid prices), so I yanked it off the FBW shelves last year. If you're in the mood for a little horror nostalgia however, I'll bring it in. It's an interesting and important early film in the genre.