Hot on the heels of his “31 Days of Hammer” in January and the “31 Days of British Horror” in March , Jules is at it again in May, treating us to the continuation of his chronological run through the classic era of British Horror, from the late ’50s to the end of the ’70s, with one review every day for the entire month.
You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of British Horror” by CLICKING HERE.
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Keith Barron, Diana Dors
Director: Peter Sasdyh
In another world, Charlemagne Productions, a company set up by Lee and producer Anthony Nelson Keys was a huge success. Their intention of producing traditional British horror films in the Dennis Wheatley vein over the increasing sex and violence so prevalent in the genre at the time was well-received and led on to a string of classic horrors. How did they do this, in this other world?
Quite simply, they didn’t start off with Nothing But The Night.
To call it a slow burner would be exaggerating its pacing, indeed if it was cut down to TV episode length, it probably still would drag in points. Even with the pairing of Lee and Cushing, it was a box-office failure and resulted in Rank pulling out of its distribution deal, meaning the company was wound up shortly afterwards and Charlemagne Productions only entry into filmmaking was vastly lesser than the sum of its parts.
When three trustees of the Van Traylen Orphanage commit suicide in short succession, it’s initially ruled as mere coincidence, but when a school bus accident nearly wipes out three more of them as well as a group of 30 orphans, Col. Bingham (Christopher Lee) and his pathologist friend, Mark (Peter Cushing), begin an investigation into the deaths.
They come to think the answer lies with one of the girls on the bus and feel their suspicions are comforted when her psychiatrist Dr. Haynes (Keith Barron) ends up murdered, but there is more to the strange children than it initially seems…
What a missed opportunity Nothing But The Night is. The central concept of corrupt adults implanting their brain cells in children to prolong their lives and essentially live forever is wonderfully dark, like a very modern sci-if horror spin on the old idea of vampires feeding off the life and vitality of the young. Sadly, there’s just not enough of it and it takes an age to get there.
Even in their worst films Lee and Cushing are never a chore to watch and this is far from their worst. Thankfully, they have pretty much all their scenes together here and their close personal relationship in real life absolutely shines here and is the main point of interest here. It’s all the more engaging knowing what a bad place Cushing was in after the death of his dear wife and how he still puts in his usual impeccable performance.
Nothing But The Night could have been something special, but it’s sadly pretty far from that. It’s not awful by any stretch but it’s a real chore in parts and not something that bears repeated viewing.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy