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Nothing But the Night
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Nothing But the Night More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

The Ominous Orphanage on the Isle of Grim

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
4 April 2009

Odd and unusual but nevertheless highly imaginative British supernatural horror/thriller story, once more pairing the two legendary genre veterans Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, this time under the skillful direction of Peter Sasdy. "Nothing but the Night" somewhat plays in a league of its own, as you definitely can't compare it to the extremely popular contemporary Hammer productions. I even daresay this is quite a unique piece of Brit-horror, which is probably why it required the constitution of a brand new production company, named Charlemagne, that didn't last very long afterwards. "Nothing but the Night" may be overly convoluted and full of irregularities, but it's really not a bad film and it definitely doesn't deserve the embarrassingly low current IMDb rating of 3.2 out of 10! Adapted from a novel by John Blackburn, the screenplay offers up a very ambitious and compelling mixture of mystery, medical horror, creepy country sides and typically British police work. The film is incredibly fast paced (I can't fathom that some of my fellow reviewers call this movie boring) and the plot is literally a non-stop series of red herrings and vague clues, desperately attempting to avoid that any viewer would figure out the climax too fast. Let me tell you straight away: you won't guess the full denouement no matter how clairvoyant you are, as multiple story aspects and twists in "Nothing but the Night" are simply too absurd and implausible for normal human beings to even consider. Once again, though, this doesn't mean it's not fascinating and entertaining to look at. The film opens with an immediate attention-grabber, as we're right away treated to grisly images of three murders looking like suicide. Police Colonel Bingham (Christoper Lee) later explains to his friend Dr. Mark Ashley (Peter Cushing) that all victims were trustees of a prominent but highly secluded orphanage on a small Scottish island. When one of the orphanage's children is hospitalized after a mysterious bus accident, the young doctor Haynes wants to investigate the girl's bizarre nightmares, but the influential Van Traylen Fund trustees prevent this. The girl's flamboyant and aggressive birth mother also wants to reclaim her, but the orphanage lies isolated and well protected a small island only reachable by ferry boats. Some abrupt plot twists work very efficient, whereas other red herrings are blatantly obvious. For example, we're supposed to believe that Anna Harb – the girl's real mother – is a complete psychopath, but that would just be too easy. Peter Sasdy maintains a sinister atmosphere throughout and the Scottish isle and countryside filming locations are stupendous. There aren't many bloody moments, but there's a fair portion of suspense and a couple of shocking insinuations. Other people claim that both Lee and Cushing are underused in the film, which may perhaps be a little true, but their characters are terrific and I swear I've seen films where their names were more shamelessly exploited for even smaller roles (like "Scream and Scream Again", for instance). Not a masterpiece of Brit-horror, but a worthwhile movie in case you're looking for something creepy yet different.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Not schlock....

Author: kirk99 from United States
24 November 2008

I don't think this film is as bad as it's been suggested. If you go in viewing it more as a mystery than expecting faced paced horror from the start, I think it's just requires some patience. The ending rewards you if you allow yourself to stick with it.

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing do their best with a less than great script, but it's important to keep in mind that most novel-to-screen adaptations do suffer badly, and I think this is more the case here. Gwyneth Strong does an amazing job as Mary Valley, and it makes me curious to see what other work she's done.

If you find a bargain DVD of this one, or see it on late night cable, give it a shot. And if you're a fan of British horror like I am, it is always great to have a visit with Lee and Cushing once again!

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A lot better than I'd expected.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
23 May 2009

With an overall rating of just a bit over 3, I sure didn't expect much from this Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing collaboration. However, I was surprised to find this film was a lot better than I'd come to believe. Perhaps some of the reason the film has a lower score than the usual fare from these actors is that although the film has the usual supernatural angle, you don't learn about this until the end. Up until then, it just seems like a detective film about some nasty ex-con who is being sought be Scotland Yard. I could say more, but it would spoil the suspense.

Strengths of the film include a very novel script, generally good acting (though the ex-con is about as unsubtle a character as you can find), and nice location shooting. The biggest minus is that the thing just takes a long time to get going, though by the end of the film the whole thing is steaming full speed ahead.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Classic case of the sum being less than the parts.

Author: innocuous from Raleigh, NC, USA
3 February 2009

In spite of having some exciting (and daring) sequences, NBTN just never gets going. There are exploding boats, hat pin murders, mass suicides, pathologists with body parts, and all sorts of classic mystery/horror scenes, but they're interspersed with extended periods of pure exposition. Everybody in the movie looks bored. This is a shame because many of the sequences would be considered daring at the time this was filmed.

Add to this the "too-proper" Brit characters and you feel like you've drifted into a Sherlock Holmes movie.

Finally, the cinematography is very ordinary. There are lots of opportunities for beautiful shots of of the countryside, or complex shots of someone being pulled into a huge bonfire, but the whole thing is unimaginative and dull.

Definitely only for Lee and Cushing fans.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Hidden Gem

Author: parsonm2 from United States
7 April 2015

Every now and then you stumble on an unheard of gem..

This is one of those movies you've never heard of which has a decent story and good cast. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee star in this modern film about a mystery surrounding the children of an orphanage and a bizarre series of deaths. This is definitely worth watching if you like these Hammer stars and like occult movies. I must admit this one caught me off guard. The end could have been fleshed out a bit more but I definitely enjoyed the story and have even managed to obtain a DVD transfer for my collection.

I think this plot could be done to make a great modern horror. I found it on Youtube...

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Delicious and underrated

Author: Tender-Flesh from United States
27 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had totally forgotten about this movie. Some people will say that's a good thing. However, I didn't remember it at all while watching until the very last scene. Then, I was instantly transported back to the mid 1980's, watching Saturday afternoon television on a local station.

I may be in a great minority with loving this film, which I don't even rank as a true horror film, but it's pretty close. It has shades of The Wicker Man to be sure. Lee and Cushing give some of their best performances and thankfully have a great many scenes together. All of the other actors do fine as well. The countryside near the old fishing village is so succulent you can taste the mouldering old stone walls and outcroppings and imagine the wee folk running about playing tricks at twilight.

This film is pretty slow going, mainly talky--which is a grand thing when you've got Lee and Cushing. There is minimal bloodshed, almost G rated, although there is a scene where Cushing examines the remains of some dead people, but it's obviously just some leftovers from the butcher shop and not even worth fussing over.

The plot involves a worn out old "hoor" trying to get her daughter back after the old mom was in the clink for a time on murder and prostitution charges. The daughter has been living in an orphanage run by some trustees to some dead lady's fortune on a small but enchanting isle. There are some G-rated murders, one huge red herring with red hair and a red coat, no less, and a long-limbed girl at the center of it who's all elbows and knees and is a damn pretty version of Anna Paquin. This movie seems to want to be a detective thriller until the last ten minutes when it switches gears unevenly into a strange amalgam of cultists/witchery/science gone wild. But don't let the poor ratings others have given this flick put you off. Even if you aren't huge fans of Cushing or Lee, you'll find some tastiness in this old, forgotten relic. I'm glad I unearthed it and blew the dust off after so many years. Now it sits firmly in my guilty pleasure stack.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Mediocre Occult Mystery Vehicle Saved By Cushing/Lee

Author: Bensch
31 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Nothing But the Night" of 1973 is a film with a bad reputation. The films bad reputation (and a rating of only 3.2/10 on this site) is not necessarily due to the films awfulness, however, but merely because it disappoints for what it is. "Nothing But the Night" was directed by Peter Sasdy, who had also directed three very good Horror films for the Hammer Studios, "Taste The Blood of Dracula", "Countess Dracula" and "Hands of The Ripper", and stars the great Horror icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. The film was produced by Christopher Lee's own production company Charlemagne productions, and obviously picked up on the recent Horror trend of supernatural/occult themes. This film is considerably weaker compared to Sasdy's aforementioned films, and especially considering the many brilliant other Cushing/Lee collaborations. Yet the film is not as terrible as the rating might suggest.

After a mysterious bus accident, the investigating Scotland Yard Col. Charles Bingham (Lee), suspects a relation to previous murders. The mystery about the accident is how the bus-driver could have burned, when there was no fire in the accident... The film is way too slow, and the explanations are sometimes silly or illogical, but, as far as I am concerned, the storyline, which continues as a supernatural Horror mystery, is not all that bad. The film bears some similarities to several other British Horror productions. The idea of occultists using children for resurrection had been used on several occasions before, such as in the Hammer Studios' "The Witches" of 1966 (which is also only mediocre). The Scottish island setting reminds of an absolute masterpiece from the same year, Robin Hardy's "The Wicker Man", which is arguably the most brilliant film Christopher Lee was ever involved in. This resemblance can not be seen as a lack of originality, though, as this film was actually released earlier in 1973 than "The Wicker Man". Christopher Lee (as the police detective) and Peter Cushing (as the forensic doctor) are a great enrichment as always, and without their presence the low rating would probably be justified. Still, this brilliant twosome always make a film worth watching, in my opinion. Sadly, their screen time could be longer. The other two leading characters, a female journalist (Georgia Brown) and a doctor (Keith Barron), and especially the lady played by Diana Dors are quite annoying. Then 14-year-old Gwyneth Strong is OK in her role. Overall, "Nothing But The Night" has some creepy moments, and, as mentioned above, I do not find the storyline to be THAT bad. The film is also quite nicely shot, and Cushing/Lee are always great. It is certainly not a highly memorable example of British Horror cinema, however, and can easily be skipped.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

More then you let on.

Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter's tea party.
25 June 2007

Three trustees of the Van Travlen have died within the last couple of months, their deaths looking less than natural. When a bus accident occurs involving the Van Traylen Trust, the only survivor is the young girl Mary Valley. The behaviour of Mary has Dr Haynes worried, so he tries his best to dig up information on her and this leads to her original mother/convicted murderer. She wants Mary back, but the Trust manages to bring her back to their orphanage on the Scottish isle of Bala. Police Colonel Bingham believes there's more to these deaths, and soon his trying to protect the Trust from Mary's mother who believes that they turned her daughter against her. Also pathologist Sir Mark Ashley and reporter Joan Foster start digging up some vital dirt, which could answer many questions.

"Nothing But the Night" seems to fall more in the interesting bracket, than the successful one. Peter Sasdy's minor mystery chiller is a moderate attempt made more accessible due to the presence of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. It was actually produced under Lee's Charlemagne production company, and would be the last one too. These two icons of the genre can make anything watchable and even though they might not be as prominent here. They still have the ability to leave their mark when they aren't on screen. Brain Hayles' cryptic screenplay (taken off John Blackburn's novel) works up a smart, if overly padded script and captivating dying half, but the knotty plot doesn't seem to click, as it moves all over the place making it hard to get comfortable and come to terms with the haunting pay-off. You might find the twist kinda obvious, but the true revelation throws you off. It does take quite awhile to hit its straps. Which could turn people off from its talkative and slow progression. However the timidly restraint and uncertain nature only makes the final 10 minutes even more unnerving, as that's when the murder mystery makes way for some creepy horror strokes. Both Sasdy and Hayles do a good enough job in keeping the viewer interested. Sasdy uses the open locations to great effect, and ably stages the set pieces with efficient slickness and ominously dark shades. Malcolm Williamson's lightly smooth jazzy score stays on the back-burner and Ken Talbot's sturdy photography keeps it stark and upfront. The performances are considerably tailor-made. Lee (more uptight than usual) and Cushing are at their assured best, even if they only have lesser parts. The spruce Diana Dors makes for a good fiery, eccentric turn and Georgia Brown's is equally impressive as the down-to-earth reporter. Gwyneth Strong wonderfully draws up her part as Mary.

A middling hot (impeccably acted) and cold (unfocused story) mystery thriller.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A slow-moving waste of a good cast

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
6 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I couldn't help but to be disappointed by this slow-moving contemporary thriller which lacks any real horror. The pairing of horror stars Cushing and Lee usually makes for a gripping movie but not in this case, unfortunately. Lethargic direction and an extremely confused storyline sink this one from the start, despite the use of some nice locations and the efforts of a good cast.

Things start off well with some unexplained murders and an investigation into them but quickly become muddled with a silly and ludicrous plot involving genetics and immortality. Okay so they made the film in a contemporary setting but how could they expect it to be realistic with such an implausible storyline? Much of the film is padded out with people walking around and driving cars - not very exciting. There's also far too much of child actress Gwyneth Strong, who of course went on to play Cassandra in ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES.

It's sad, really, that a good cast is wasted so much. Diana Dors spends most of the time crawling around moors and hiding in bushes, much to her embarrassment. Peter Cushing is pretty good here as a prim and proper pathologist who has a surprisingly short temper, in fact he's the best thing in the film. Christopher Lee is good too but isn't really given much to do except walk around and shout at the press. A female reporter pops up from time to time only to disappear again. Sadly the film is bloodless too, although Lee does get to sport some fake-looking blisters when he gets too near a fire at the film's vaguely exciting climax. Overall this is a missed opportunity, not helped by Sasdy's uninterested direction and a poor script.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good But A Bit Slow

Author: Rainey Dawn from United States
23 May 2016

This is one of the lesser talked about films starring the superb duo Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. It's pretty good film but it is a bit slow - this one could have done with a little quicker pace.

3 prison deaths that appear as suicides on the surface stirred some questions but once 3 more trustees and 30 orphan children are in a bus accident and most die then police colonel Bingham (Christopher Lee) starts seriously investigating. Sir Ashley (Peter Cushing) agrees to help investigate the mysterious happenings. It's a supernatural mystery.


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