Dead of Night (1945) review

These days Ealing Studios is synonymous with comedies such as Whisky Galore! and The Man in the White Suit. However, the studio also found success in the 1940s with more serious fare, including a run of war films and this influential chiller.

Endlessly imitated (but never bettered) by countless subsequent portmanteau horror films, Dead of Night offers five tales of supernatural linked by the cyclical story of an architect who arrives at a country house only to realise that he has already experienced the same events in his dreams.

Naturally, not all of the stories are entirely successful, but even the least effective (a comedic tale of rival golfers vying for the same woman) ends with a punch line that gets more disturbing the more you think about it. And those that do hit the spot (particularly Alberto Cavalcanti's showstopper about a ventriloquist who believes that his dummy is alive) will haunt you long after the end credits have rolled.

Picture: As with its previous Ealing Studios releases such as Went the Day Well? and Kind Hearts and Coronets, StudioCanal's Blu-ray release of Dead of Night looks very good. While the AVC 1.33:1 1080p encode still exhibits the odd scratch or tramline, there are far more pros than cons to the image. Clarity and stability are both first-rate, and the expansive greyscale range looks very smooth and natural with no unsightly noise evident into the monochrome transfer.

For information on some of the challenges faced by the team restoring Dead of Night, check out our exclusive interview here.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: The Blu-ray's LPCM dual-mono soundtrack isn't bad at all for a film that will be celebrating its 70th birthday next year. Naturally, dynamic range is rather limited, but the dialogue, music and Foley effects are all crisply and cleanly presented. The soundtrack is also free from any notable distortion and background hiss.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: Remembering Dead of Night is a lengthy talking-heads piece featuring input from critics Matthew Sweet, Kim Newman, Danny Leigh and Jonathan Romney, senior lecturer Keith M. Johnson, actor Reece Shearsmith and filmmaker John Landis. Over the course of 76 minutes, they provide a interesting look back at the making of the film, the themes it tackles and its influence on the genre.

Also included are a four-minute Restoration Comparison featuring various 'before and after' clips, plus a gallery of 12 behind-the-scenes photographs. All of the extras are presented at 1080p.
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: StudioCanal has scared up an admirable hi-def platter for this first-rate classic British chiller

Dead of Night, StudioCanal, Region B BD, £23 Approx