Dead of Night (1977)

I can’t lie to you kids. The first two stories in this DAN CURTIS-directed, RICHARD MATHESON-scripted horror anthology/potential series pilot are in my opinion, not so hot. They are well cast and serviceable enough, but your usually game Unkle found himself looking down at his non-existent watch on more occasions than he would prefer. The first tale involves a young ED BEGLEY, JR. traveling through time in an antique car (’nuff said) and the second involves PATRICK MACNEE (yikes! Count Iblis from the original BATTLESTAR GALACTIA!) and ANJANETTE COMER (from Kinder-fave THE BABY) in a rather routine vampire tale. Third times a charm though, because the last story entitled “Bobby” delivers more creeps than an OSMOND family obstetrician.

In “Bobby,” JOAN HACKET (HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLAN) is a grieving mother who is having trouble dealing with the recent drowning death of her young son (BURNT OFFERINGS’ chimney pancake LEE MONTGOMERY). Rather than going the Mrs. Voorhees route and hacking up individuals who are not even remotely responsible for the tragedy, JOAN decides to attack the problem at its source and reanimate her drowned kid via black magic. Take it from me, black magic can and will fix all of your problems BUT there is always some kind of tricky catch! Dealing with Satan is a lot like dealing with Colombia House.

You don’t have to be familiar with THE MONKEY’S PAW or even PET SEMATARY to know that Mom is in for a rude awakening when a soaked Bobby does indeed show up on her doorstep. Her gradual realization that Bobby is not quite as she remembers is akin to getting excited to watch LAVERNE & SHIRLEY and then realizing it is a “California” episode. CURTIS, who staged a parallel two character showdown in TRILOGY OF TERROR, knows which screws to tighten and when and the final moments in “Bobby” brand a similar lasting mental scar. My favorite bit involves a mocking, paranoia inspiring phone call from the never seen Dad. It’s a classic moment of all-consuming dread that really gets under your skin. As mediocre as DEAD OF NIGHT begins, this last tale more than makes up for it. “Bobby” is not only classic DAN CURTIS, it’s some serious classic Kindertrauma as well.

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14 years ago

Wow, Bobby scared the LIVING HELL out of me as a child.

13 years ago

My dad was a pretty tough guy (prison, guns, etc..) but the only time I heard him scream/jump in pure terror was at the finale of “Bobby”. I get sweaty just thinking about it. Did you know they remade it as a part of “Trilogy Of Terror 2”? It was awful & had none of the originals punch even though it was literally the same story.

13 years ago

Just saw this for the first time last evening.  Wow.  The ending shakes you up…and the phone call really scared me too…..good flick.  Gotta love the 70s all the way!

13 years ago

This sounds a little like my favorite episode of Masters of Horror, “Fair Haired Child.”

13 years ago

I saw this last night with my 10 year old daughter who has just preogressed from watching GOOSEBUMPS with me to eps of TALES FROM THE CRYPT. We absolutley HATED the first story, the second was a LITTLE better but of course the third was the “gem” of the bunch. I was a wee bit disappointed (I for one wouldve been happier if Bobby had looked demonic earlier in the flick and not just the last 5 seconds) but my daughter was seriously freaked out! I went to go to the bathroom and she followed me in there! Then she ended up sleeping in my room! I woke up this morning and in my best Bobby voice walked around the house going “Mom-mmmmy!” She’s embaressed about it now, but yeah- last night she was really spooked by Bobby and Mommy.

PS: Ive only seen about a dozen Masters Of Horrors but Fair Haired Child is hands down my absolute fave!

12 years ago

Agreed that the first two stories are kind of a slog to get through. Bobby, on the other hand, was incredibly unsettling. Love that phone call! And anybody with a creepy oil painting of their dead child sitting where he died is kind of asking for some form of trauma. Question, somewhat spoilery: do you think ‘Bobby’ was telling the truth about what happened to the real Bobby?

Silver Fang
10 years ago

I don’t even remember the other two shorts. But Bobby scared the crap out of me as a kid. I’ll never forget watching him walk down the staircase and out of the shadows, revealing that hideous face to his doomed mother. *shivers*