Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Nothing But the Night, I'm a Pathologist Dammit!

You remember the chills sent up your spine at the ending of 1973's "The Wicker Man"?  A Christopher Lee film, one of his favorites, in which folk horror is thrown at us in creepy fashion.  Ironically, that same year, the Christopher Lee film "Nothing But the Night" premiered.  Folk horror? Yep... but beware, through most of it you will think you are watching a police mystery.  Then the ending.  The most taboo and horrific ending you will ever see.  What happens is so offensive to your comfort zone and polite sensibilities, you may look at "The Wicker Man" as no scarier than a Looney Toons Cartoon.  Warning...the ending will be difficult to watch and if you have been through a hard time lately...avoid this film.

He's a pathologist! A regular Quincy...Peter Cushing plays Sir Mark.  Semi-retired detective, Col. Bingham (Lee) asks his assistance in his investigation of several suspicious deaths. A bus filled with children has crashed.  The kids were not the target of a homicidal mind and one survives.  Young Mary (Gwyneth Strong), an orphan has survived while three trustees from the orphanage she belongs to have died in the crash.  Mary is traumatized and the sight of fire sends her into a rage.  Handsome Dr. Haynes (Keith Barron) is trying to hypnotize her to find out why she fears fire.  There was no fire in the crash and nothing in Mary's past indicates any fiery episodes.  The orphanage wants her back and not even Sir Mark can stop this.

The trustees at the orphanage continue to die mysteriously.  Before Mary is sent back to the orphanage, Dr. Haynes finds her birth mother (Diana Dors).  The meeting between Mary and her real mom at the hospital proves horrific, and deadly.  Now Joan (Georgia Brown), a babe who owns a newspaper, is inquiring about the deaths of the trustees. More trustees die mysteriously.  Now Bingham, Joan, and Sir mark head to the little Scottish island that houses the orphans, including Mary.  Uh oh...the kids start dying in a manner consistent with ritualistic sacrifice.  Then...you don't want to know what happens next.  Be warned.  It won't be the feel good movie of 1973 and will send more chills up your spine than two other 1973 horror films, "The Wicker Man" and "The Exorcist."

What exactly happened during the meeting between Mary and her birth mom at the hospital? Why are the trustees at the orphanage dying mysteriously?  Will a big bonfire and a naked and dancing Joan be part of the plot of this film?  This is a shocker and maybe an unwelcome film at a time when Vietnam and Watergate were going on.  See "Nothing But the Night" if you must.  It'll scare and shock.


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