Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Alternate Title: Dead of Night
Canada/United Kingdom/USA, 1974. Impact Films, Quadrant Films. Screenplay by Alan Ormsby. Cinematography by Jack McGowan. Produced by Bob Clark, Peter James, John Trent. Music by Carl Zittrer. Production Design by Forest Carpenter. Costume Design by Dyke Davis. Film Editing by Ronald Sinclair.
Modern update of The Monkey’s Paw, in which small town couple John Marley and Lynn Carlin receive a telegram informing them that their son died in Vietnam. Unable to believe this horrible news is true, Carlin is thrilled when her son returns home late the next night, fully intact physically if somewhat absent in spirit. His family doesn’t notice that he has no appetite for food and is rather cold about the eyes, then tries to ignore the possibility that a recent spate of grisly murders might have been by his own hand. Bob Clark directs this atmospheric, creepy horror film which delves quite accurately into Vietnam angst in ways which make films like Coming Home feel patronizing by comparison, using the exploitative thrills of the zombie genre to get at the guilt and grief of a nation trying to succumb from the pain of a very real trauma. Richard Backus gives some great moments as the ghostly soldier in question, his robotic movement and deadly stares humorously exaggerated but never undermine the dark nature of the story, while Clark creates some unforgettably beautiful images with a lot of the sinister, shadowy moments that he creates.