Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dead of Night – review

Director: Kristoffer Tabori

Release date: 1996

Contains spoilers

There have been many a film released with the name Dead of Night. We looked at the 1977 Dan Curtis film some time ago. Now this one will need keeping an eye out on the TV channels as it isn’t available on VHS or DVD but the fact that it shares its name with the Curtis movie, amongst others, is fitting as its central theme is reincarnated love – an idea that Curtis really brought to the vampire genre. It’s also worth noting that Dead of Night was an alternate title for the 1974 flick Deathdream and that it was the title of a season 3 forever Knight episode – not to mention the none vampiric films with the same name!

It is a playboy production though, whilst it does have some nudity, it certainly isn’t an adult flick. Problem is it’s all a little improbable and melodramatic but, such is life. It begins in London 1889 and Isabella, the bride of Christian (Robert Knepper) has died in childbirth. He is distraught and is approached by Nina (Diana Frank), a vampire. She offers him 1000 years to find his love again – and then goes on to mention immortality. Is it 1000 years or is it immortality, make your mind up. She cuts herself for him to drink (the turning is not so easy as to just be dependent on trading blood, however).

Modern day and Nina and Christian haunt seedy bars looking for victims. Christian’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it. He picks up a young woman, new in town, called Carry (Tanya Newbould) and takes her back to his. Nina waits until he's been with her and wanders over to them. He leaves them to it and she flashes glowy eyes to mesmerise the girl. She brings him a goblet of Carry’s blood.

We meet nurse Katherine Burke (Kathleen Kinmont). She is on her way home when she sees a pimp with a whore (Heather Stephens) stood opposite her apartment. The whore seems very young and she is worried about the girl and so calls a cop she met briefly, Mike Woods (John Enos III). He is homicide and can’t help her – she said she already tried vice and social services.

He has bigger things on his mind. Seven girls have gone missing in the last month – all of them new to the city. His captain wants him working on actual cases – there are no bodies and so they are nothing to do with homicide. However when another one – Carry – is called in he gets three days. Nevertheless he decides to help Katherine – though help is just moving the whore along, much to Katherine’s disgust.

Christian is loosing hope of ever finding Isabella – after all it’s been all of 100 years. Then he spots Katherine and, well wouldn’t you just know it… she is Isabella! Interestingly, when he sees her Nina feels it and it causes her to cry. She becomes very jealous of Katherine but this accumulates in her wanting to turn the mortal woman so as to keep Christian with her… It would have been more interesting if, in 1889, Nina had killed Isabella in order that she might get Christian, whom she coveted. If this was the case it never comes out in the film and thus her offer to make Christian a vampire seems all the more glib.

Lore wise it is virtually standard – though with a distinct lack of fangs on show (knives are the order of the day). They seem to avoid the light, they move quickly and can ghost into apartments (actually Christian uses this to stalk Katherine – and despite stalking her like some weirdo she still goes for him!). They have glowy eyes, as mentioned, holy items burn and stakes kill.

What is unusual, however, is the idea that a transference of blood is not enough to turn a mortal. There then has to be a full on ritual (and for some reason wolfsbane is used in the ritual) to bring immortality to the human... This was interesting but really not well explored. There is a Romania connection that was tacked on and was too clichéd.

I said that this was a melodrama and it was, with too much in the way of coincidence making up the plot. The actors did their best – Knepper is a good actor but he struggled as he wadded through a viscous river of melodrama and romance as did his co-stars. Reactions were silly – I don’t care if she is the reincarnation of his wife, if he is stalking her as he was she’d not immediately leap into bed with him. The problem is, of course, that the entire romance/reincarnation story has been done before, done to death and done better. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

;) Q


Anonymous said...

Do you know where I can watch this whole movie? I've been wanting to see it for years.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

The version I watched was on VHS, recorded from TV when it was on at some point.

I know it makes the occasional rounds on the UK and US TV - elsewhere in the world I'm not too sure.

It hasn't had a DVD release that I am aware of, unfortunately.