The film begins with the arrival of architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) at the house of Elliot Foley (Ronald Culver) for some renovations needed in the house.
From the beginning, Craig looks a little bewildered
and his bewilderment seems to increase as he is introduced to the other people assembled in the house: Mrs Foley, the mother of Elliot; Racing car driver Hugh Grainger (Anthony Baird); pretty young-miss Sally O’ Hara (Sally Ann Howes); self-possessed Joan Cortland (Googie Withers); and famous psycho-analyst Dr. van Straaten (Frederick Valk).
It is a strange gathering and we are never quite told their relation to one another except that they are acquaintances and puff out smoke like engines (the amount of smoking that goes on caused a fug in Delhi.I kid you not. 🙂
Stranger still is Craig’s behaviour for he suddenly bursts out saying:”Still there. So it isn’t a dream this time.” It seems he has met all these people before in his dreams. The guests try to analyze how this could be as he is a stranger to them all. Meanwhile Craig wants to leave the house as he is sure that something awful will occur if he stays in it. To put him at ease, the others start recounting their own paranormal experiences. Thus, Grainger tells them of his dream of a hearse driver who later materialized as a bus-conductor; Sally tells of her encounter with a ghostly child; Joan reveals the possession of her husband by a haunted mirror.
As the guests demand a rational explanation from Dr. van Straaten and Criag tries once again to leave the house, Elliot defuses the tension by constructing a story of two men obsessed by golf but tension soars up once again as Dr. van Stratten narrates the case of a Ventriloquist and his dummy.
Based on stories by E.F. Benson, John Baines, H.G. Wells, and Angus MacPhail, this movie has all the necessary chills needed to keep you on the edge. From the surreal images as the credits roll in to Dr. van Straaten’s habit of continuously removing and putting on his glasses to the smell of fear that seems to emanate from Craig to the different reflection seen or not seen in the mirror to the loopy grin of the ventriloquist’s dummy, everything foreshadows an ominous end.
Also adding to the uneasiness is a feeling that whether it is all only a big gag. The doctor remarks that it seems to him as though all of them had concocted all this to destroy his most cherished beliefs. Another person wonders that as they are just characters in Mr. Craig’s dream, they will as a consequence all vanish once he wakes up (which incidentally echoes the Indian philosophy of everything being ‘maya’ or illusion. This entire world, all the people and their actions are just being dreamt by Brahma and once he wakes up the world will disappear)
I enjoyed the movie tremendously. The stories of the haunted mirror and the Ventriloquist dummy
(always something creepy for me) make you want to scream while the Twiddledee-Twiddledum action of Potter and Pitter as the two golfers was real fun.
Submitted for Tuesday’s Overlooked A/V @ Todd Mason’s Blog Sweet Freedom. Plz head over there for the other entries.