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Dead of Night (1945) is a British portmanteau (or compendium) horror film made by Ealing Studiosmarker, its various episodes directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer. The film stars Mervyn Johns, Googie Withers and Michael Redgrave. The film is probably best-remembered for the "ventriloquist's dummy" episode starring Redgrave.

Dead of Night stands out from British film of the 1940s, when few genre films were being produced, and it had a huge influence on subsequent British horror films most particularly the anthology films produced by Amicus in the 1960s and early 1970s. Both of the segments by John Baines were recycled for later films, and the possessed ventriloquist dummy episode was adapted as an episode of the long-running CBS radio series Escape. It was also used twice by the American television series The Twilight Zone, as well as serving as the basis for the William Goldman-scripted film Magic.


Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) arrives at a country house party where he reveals to the other assembled guests that he has seen them all in a recurring dream. He has no prior personal knowledge of them, but he knows that each has a disturbing story to tell, while he also shows amazing knowledge of spontaneous events in the house before they unfold. The other guests attempt to test Craig's foresight, while entertaining each other with various tales of uncanny or supernatural events that they experienced or were told about. These include a racing car driver's mysterious premonition of a fatal bus crash; a humorous tale of two obsessed golfers, one of whom is haunted by the other's ghost; a ghostly encounter during a children's Christmas party (a scene cut from the initial American release); a haunted antique mirror; and the story of an unbalanced ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave) who believes his amoral dummy is truly alive. The framing story is then capped by a disturbing twist ending.

Dead of Night inspired Fred Hoyle's Steady State model of the Universe.



Director Martin Scorsese placed Dead of Night on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.

See also

The theme of the mad ventriloquist has been visited in other works and media:




  • Jerry Vermilye The Great British Films, 1978, Citadel Press, pp 85–87, ISBN 080650661X

External links The Dead Of Night Locations

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