16 August 2008
Dead of Night, dir. Bob Clark (1974)
STEVE says: Oh. My. GOD!
I only found out this movie existed a couple weeks ago, and I am stunned - stunned! - that it's not more well-known because it is one of the best Zombie movies I've ever seen.
Before he gave us the Porky's series, Bob Clark was a hell of a horror filmmaker. I'd seen Black Christmas and Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, and - though vastly different in theme and tone - thought they were both great. But neither of these even hints at how good Clark was, or could have been had he continued with horror instead of going for teen exploitation.
Dead of Night sees Andy killed in Vietnam in the opening scene. Back at home, his family receives the news but his mother is unwilling to accept it. So much so that she literally wills Andy back to life. When he returns home, however, he's withdrawn and antisocial, spending most of his time in his room, on a rocking chair, staring out the window. It's on the list of Creepiest Things I've Ever Seen. Instead of eating flesh like Romero's Zombies, Andy needs injections of blood to keep him from rotting - which might make you want to call it a vampire movie, but since Andy's not affected by daylight or crosses or garlic - at least it's never brought up - vampirism can be ruled safely out. Besides, who would equate the trauma of the Vietnam war to vampirism? Doesn't work. Zombism, now that's something else. Andy has been to hell and back in a very literal sense, and his family don't know how to deal with him. That's how I like my metaphor served, my friends.