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A wealthy woman is terrorized by recurring dreams regarding her jealous, blind husband who supposedly burned to death in a recent fire. She tries to convince her attorney that the nightmares are real. Written by
Producer/Director William Castle, famed for his low-budget shockers complete with assorted gimmicks, had by now reached his "Star Stage." He had featured Vincent Price in two of his films, and in 1964 really scored a coup when he signed Joan Crawford for "Strait- Jacket." Thanks mostly to her drawing power (she would later do "I Saw What You Did" for Castle) the film was a hit - and her publicity appearances on behalf of it didn't hurt, either. So, for his next project, Castle signed both Barbara Stanwyck and her initially reluctant ex-husband Robert Taylor to headline "The Night Walker" from a script written by "Strait-Jacket's" Robert Bloch (who also penned the book "Psycho").
In this psychological mystery melodrama, Stanwyck plays the wife of a rich, blind scientist (Hayden Rorke) who suspects her of having an affair. He hires a detective (Lloyd Bochner) to determine whether his wife is only dreaming of a lover or actually has one. Shortly thereafter, he is killed in an explosion, and his now very rich widow is plagued with nightmares in which he is pursuing her (when she's not dreaming of her mystery lover, that is). Taylor is her late husband's lawyer whom she turns to for help when her dreams begin to drive her mad. And so goes the plot...
Most critics saw this as another "Horror Hag" movie, in other words, a lurid yarn featuring a Golden Age star, a cycle which began with "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" (with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) and continued with "Strait-Jacket" (Crawford); "Lady In A Cage" (Olivia De havilland) and Ann Sothern) "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" (Davis, De havilland and Agnes Moorehead) etc. This time around though, the still- beautiful Stanwyck was cast as a victim, rather than a villainess (as most of the veteran actresses ended up playing in these films were) and she generated a good deal of sympathy-(besides being a terrific screamer). The supporting players (Bochner, Judi Meredith, Rochelle Hudson and Marjorie Bennett) are capable and game, the production is well photographed and features a truly creepy score from the great Vic Mizzy ("The Addams Family, "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken"). Famed voice-over king Paul Frees (for some reason credited as 'Ted Durant') sets the scene beautifully with a short but effective prologue. What really makes this work, however, are the still-potent talents of Stanwyck and Taylor, both of whom are really better than the material, but give it their all nevertheless. Alas, though profit participant Stanwyck toured with Castle to promote it, "The Night Walker" was a box-office flop, and it would take "Rosemary's Baby" which Castle only produced, to put him back on top. It's still an above-average film of it's type though, and pretty scary to watch alone at night.
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