Richard Backus in Dead of Night (1974) (aka: Deathdream)

Return of the Zombie Soldier

When a soldier shows up at their door carrying the brown envelope the Brooks family can't accept that their son Andy (Richard Backus) has died serving in the Vietnam War. So when Andy shows up in the middle of the night they are over the moon and think it must have been a mistake on the militaries part. Except war has changed Andy as he is now angry and it causes his dad Charles (John Marley - Love Story) to wonder if he was behind a murder especially when he kills the pet dog in front of some children. But Andy's mum Christine (Lynn Carlin) is so happy to see her son back that she refuses to see that he is changed the same with his sister Cathy (Anya Ormsby). The thing is is that Andy has changed in mores ways that one as he is dead and he is slowly decomposing but seems to want to make those back home pay for what they have done.

"Dead of Night" which is also known as "Deathdream" is the sort of movie which is now prime for a remake, I say that because as it stands it has a lot of great ideas but to me is a movie for those who watched it back in the 70s when it was made. It is a combination of things from being about a soldier who died in the Vietnam War to the expected 70s look which makes it feel like it is a movie with some sort of social agenda, anti war message which it wants to get across. But as such it doesn't translate so well for modern audiences which is why it could be remade

Lynn Carlin and John Marley in Dead of Night (1974) (aka: Deathdream)

But the whole idea of a soldier returning home changed by war because he is in fact the living dead who is slowly decomposing makes my mind go in to over drive with the potential for some entertaining zombie horror. And some of the things which I thought off crop up in "Dead of Night" especially how those closest to Andy deal with his change from being frightened by what they think their son is now capable off to being in denial that he is any different. Plus there is an aspect of Andy almost targeting those who become a threat to his existence which adds to the fear fact of Andy as a character.

Now in truth I don't think I would have gone out of my way to watch "Dead of Night" if I hadn't seen the name John Marley, and Marley delivers a solid performance as the father dealing with the horror of seeing that his son is changed but unsure of how changed he is. But John Marley is not the only good performance and Richard Backus in playing Andy as cold and emotionless ends up unsettling which is exactly what the role calls for and that smirk he has on his face just adds to that.

What this all boils down to is that the "Dead of Night" is one of those movies which I can see how it appealed to audiences on its release back in 1974 although it doesn't quite have the same appeal now despite having some very good ideas. It is why it is a movie which I am sure would work well now as a remake, being brought up to date for new generations.

Tags: Zombie Movies