The Nightcomers 1971
The Nightcomers is an elegant Gothic 1971 British film directed by Michael Winner who was concerned about potential censorship in the UK because of the provocative nature of the sex scenes. It serves as a prequel to Henry James’s classic novella “The Turn of the Screw” and explores the dark origins of tortured spirits of malevolent lovers and two troublesome children, Miles and Flora.
Set in a secluded countryside estate, the film introduces us to Quint (played by Marlon Brando), a charismatic and enigmatic manservant, and Miss Jessel (Stephanie Beacham), a seductive governess. They both exert a corrupting influence on the estate’s young siblings, Miles and Flora.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Quint and Miss Jessel’s sinister behavior has a profound impact on the children, leading them down a path of moral decay and perverse sexuality. The film explores themes of corruption, innocence lost, and the blurred boundaries between desire and manipulation. The Nightcomers is a mix of chaos, cruelty, and a peculiar kind of fascination between the players and us, the spectators.
Winner’s The Nightcomers possesses a chaotic gothicness and a provocative and unsettling examination of the origins of the psychological and supernatural horrors found in Henry James’s original story. It’s known for its bold and controversial themes and its exploration of the dark forces that can shape the lives of the young and impressionable and Marlon Brando as Quint the ill-fated gardener, lends an imposing presence that is alluded to in Jack Clayton’s earlier masterpiece.
Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw is a timeless classic, which was brilliantly adapted in 1961 with The Innocents starring Deborah Kerr who turns in an astounding performance of repressed sexuality. A decade later, director Michael Winner, known for films like Death Wish (1974) and The Sentinel (1977), (READ MY PIECE HERE:)presented an original prequel.
from Film School Rejects:
”He (Winner) received the script from playwright Michael Hastings and thought it was brilliant. “It really doesn’t mean much as someone else has to not only think it’s brilliant but also put up the money, and nobody wanted to put up the money for this film.”
While looking for funding a producing partner asked if if he thought Marlon Brando could play the Irish gardener Peter Quint, and Winner replied “Marlon could play the two children, the dog, the cat, the neighbor from the Caribbean, he can do anything.” and Brando was surprised to learn that Winner was making the film nearly free of charge, and when he asked why Winner replied “for the honor of working with you.”
The role of Miss Jessel was originally intended for Vanessa Redgrave, and she was locked in for the production. She had to drop out, though, when another film ran over schedule. Winner recalled Stephanie Beacham — she had a single line in his film The Games (1970) — and offered her the role, at first objecting to doing the role’s nude scenes but eventually ‘she caved in’.
While Beacham went nude for Jessel’s S&M-themed sex scene with Quint, Brando of course refused to do the same. “He wore underpants, and for some extraordinary reason Wellington boots.”
Flora is meant to be twelve years old but is played by nineteen-year-old Verna Harvey as the role gets weird. On the last day of filming Brando told him that “she’s got a very nice ass, I wish I’d noticed it earlier.”
One of the scenes shows a drunk Quint telling stories to the children Flora and Miles (Christopher Ellis), and Brando tells Winner he wanted to actually be drunk for the performance — “so please shoot it at the end of the movie.” Winner complied, Brando was intoxicated, and he nailed the scene.
Jessel’s death scene required Beacham to be in the water which was extremely cold, but while she was advised to wear the thickest wet suit available she instead went with the thinnest as it kept her figure the best. “She went totally rigid, her face went blue, and we all really thought she was dead. She was carried ashore and some fellow gave her mouth to mouth, and eventually, she survived. That’s actresses, bless ’em.”
Necromancy also known as “The Witching,” is a sinister 1972 American horror film directed by Mr. Big himself – Bert I. Gordon. The movie centers on a young widow named Lori Brandon (played by Pamela Franklin) who becomes entangled in a web of dark supernatural forces when she moves to the small town of Lilith. Lilith is the mythic goddess and misunderstood primordial she-demon feared because of the threat of her powerful agency as a woman.
Directed Bert I. Gordon leaves behind gigantism for a moment to delve into satanism. Orson Welles is Mr. Cato a practitioner of the dark arts and leader of a coven in the small town of Lilith who wants desperately to bring his dead son back to life. He seeks out Pamela Franklin who plays Lori Brandon, a girl who has the power to help him raise the dead. When she and her husband Frank played by Michael Ontkean move to the seemingly idyllic town of Lilith they think they’re starting a new life, guided by the lure of a new career for Frank.
However, she quickly discovers that the townspeople are deeply involved in witchcraft and the occult. Lori’s arrival is met with suspicion and hostility from the locals, who view her as an outsider and finds out much to her horror the true reason behind Cato’s motives. Some very atmospheric moments, with the ghost of a little boy that taunts Franklin and some eerie exterior camera work. Also co-stars Lee Purcell as Priscilla.
As she delves deeper into the mysteries of Lilith, Lori uncovers a sinister plot involving Cato’s coven of witches, determined to initiate Lori into their dark practices, believing her to possess unique powers. Necromancy’s growing sense of dread and peril permeates the film as Lori is trapped in a sinister world of witchcraft and dark forces and comes to a suffocating and violent end.
Nothing But the Night 1973
Nothing But the Night is a 1973 British horror film directed by Peter Sasdy and features Christopher Lee. The movie revolves around a series of mysterious deaths and a secret organization. Three rich trustees are murdered – appearing as suicides. When a bus filled with orphans and three other rich trustees have “accidents.” but come to learn they are ritual murders.
Over the past few months, three trustees responsible for the Van Traylen fund have met their demise in circumstances resembling suicides. Yet, following a puzzling bus incident involving the last three trustees and dozens of orphaned children, Police Colonel Bingham, portrayed by Sir Christopher Lee, initiates an inquiry. The initial query revolves around the inexplicable burning of the bus driver, who perished in the accident, despite the absence of any fire. To unravel the enigmatic events, Dr. Ashley, played by Peter Cushing, employs hypnosis to unveil the truth.
The story begins with the unexplained deaths of several prominent members of society, all seemingly unrelated. The victims include a judge, a doctor, and an industrialist. Colonel Bingham (played by Christopher Lee) is assigned to investigate these baffling cases, suspecting foul play.
As the investigation deepens, Bingham becomes increasingly convinced that there is a sinister connection between the deaths. It leads him to a strange Scottish orphanage and he discovers that a clandestine group is involved. An organization with a hidden agenda and a willingness to go to great lengths to protect its secrets.
The plot takes a more eerie turn when a young girl named Mary Valley (played by Gwyneth Strong), who has been orphaned and is under the care at a London hospital and the watchful eye of Dr. Haynes (Keith Barron) as the child exhibits strange and unsettling behavior. Sir Mark Ashley (played by Peter Cushing), a psychiatrist, becomes involved in Mary’s case, and together with Colonel Bingham, they begin to uncover the dark and supernatural forces at play.
Nothing But the Night is known for its suspenseful and atmospheric storytelling, as well as the presence of horror legends Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The film also co-stars Diana Dors as Anna Harb, Georgia Brown as Joan Foster, Fulton Mackay, Shelagh Fraser John Robinson, Morris Perry, Duncan Lamont and Kathleen Byron as Dr. Rose.
Night School 1981
Night School is a 1981 American slasher film directed by Ken Hughes and a screenplay by Ruth Avergon. The movie is set in the city of Boston and revolves around a series of gruesome murders that occur within the city’s nightlife.
A Boston police detective Judd Austin (Leonard Mann), investigates a series of gruesome decapitations of various college coeds committed by a helmeted, black-leather-clad serial killer which leads him to suspect a well-known anthropology professor as well as his female live-in assistant/lover Eleanore (Rachel Ward). As Detective Austin delves deeper into the case, he discovers a dark secret involving the night school and its students. The killer, shrouded in mystery and wearing a motorcycle helmet, continues to strike, leaving a trail of terror, carnage, and decapitated heads.
The film appeared (as “Terror Eyes”) on the UK’s list of video nasties. Both the cinema and 1987 Guild Home Video releases were cut by 1 minute 16 secs by the BBFC to heavily reduce the gore and shots of slashing during the changing room and café murders
Near Dark 1987
This uniquely radical take on the vampire mythos deserves The Last Drive In treatment with Saturday Nite Sublime. Stay Tuned!
Near Dark is a 1987 American vampire horror film directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The movie follows the story of Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar), a young man living in a small rural town who meets and falls for a beautiful and enigmatic woman named Mae (Jenny Wright). Unbeknownst to Caleb, Mae is part of a roving clan of vampires.
When Mae bites Caleb to turn him into a vampire, he is reluctantly initiated into the group, which includes a charismatic but ruthless leader named Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) and several other members with unique and dangerous personalities. Caleb struggles to adapt to his new vampiric nature and the violent lifestyle of his newfound family. Bill Paxton gives a chilling performance as the vicious Severen. Caleb’s loyalty to Mae is tested as he begins to question his place in the dark world of the undead.