Deathdream (aka Dead of Night) (1972) Review


DeathdreamDeathdream (aka Dead of Night) 1972

Dir. Bob Clark   –   88 Minutes

Andy Brooks (Richard Backus) is a young soldier in Vietnam, his family back home have not heard from him in quite a while when they get a knock on the door. The family are told Andy has been killed in action and are devastated , the following day unexpectedly Andy returns home and the family put this down to a mix up by the Army.

Everyone is so overjoyed to have Andy home that they seem to turn a blind eye to his ever stranger behaviour, and just put it down to his war experiences.

Soon though Andy becomes more introverted and takes to just rocking in a chair in his room and has become almost mute in his lack of speech.

Andy’s father (John Marley) soon gets to the end of his tether and also hears that a local bus driver was killed on the same night that Andy returned and the only passenger on the bus was dressed in an army uniform. And his sister Cathy (Anya Ormsby) also seems to realise that all is not quite right with her brother.

The only person who is blind to Andy’s strange ways is his loving mother (Lynn Carlin) who is so happy her son is fine that she cannot see what is developing in front of her.

During the film we see Andy’s slow degeneration from a young man to a sickly pale almost vampiric figure who seems to decomposing in front of our eyes. Its then we realise that Andy is in fact a zombie or the walking dead and he needs blood and flesh to stop his from rotting.

deathdream2But this is far from just an early zombie film,  directed by the great Bob Clark (whose next 2 films were Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things and the classic Black Christmas) this is a story of the return from Vietnam and the mental fatigue and physical exhaustion that many young men suffered and the intolerable strain that this put on them but more so on their families.


Lynn Carlin is fantastic as a mother who just believes that her son is a good boy and refuses to see any evil as she is just so happy to have him back after thinking he had died. And John Marley plays the heavy handed, heavy drinking father with great aplomb.

Richard Backus is the star throughout though as Andy, you really feel for him as we understand that he died at such a young age but is now having to commit acts of violence just to stay *alive*.

This is a must see film that captures the age superbly , there is so much feeling in this and also a very pertinent film for the time.

deathdream3Lastly this is one of the first Zombie films although far from the films we are now used to . This is a well structured piece of cinema with a very tough message behind it but done in such a way that only Bob Clark could do. Do not watch this as a pure zombie/horror film but remember what the year was and what was going on both politically and socially in the USA.

One last note for Zombie fans is that this was a certain Tom Savini’s very first film he worked on and what a film !!

A real classic in the zombie genre 8/10