‘Fear and fright stalk the night!’
The Night Walker is a 1964 mystery horror thriller about a woman who is haunted by recurring nightmares that seem to be instigated by her late husband who supposedly was killed in a fire.
Directed by William Castle (Strait-Jacket; House on Haunted Hill; Macabre) from a screenplay by Robert Bloch.
The movie stars Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, Judith Meredith, Hayden Rorke, Rochelle Hudson, Jess Barker, Marjorie Bennett, Tetsu Komai, Paul Frees and Lloyd Bochner.
The film’s distinctive soundtrack score was composed by Vic Mizzy, who also wrote The Addams Family theme tune.
Irene Trent (Barbara Stanwyck) is unhappily married to a blind, pathologically possessive millionaire inventor, Howard Trent (Hayden Rorke). Howard and Irene’s palatial mansion is packed with an endless assortment of cuckoo clocks, all in perfect synchronization, and Howard tape records all conversations in the house for later reference, hoping to catch Irene plotting an illicit liaison.
Irene thus lives in a constant state of dread, wondering how far Howard’s jealousy will go. Yet, despite Howard’s continual accusations of infidelity, Irene remains faithful to Howard, despite nightly recurrent dreams of a fantasy lover and an attraction to Howard’s personal attorney, Barry Moreland (Robert Taylor), the only visitor allowed in the house.
As tensions mount, Irene feels trapped in a loveless, lonely relationship. But suddenly, everything changes: Howard is killed by an explosion in his laboratory, and Irene inherits the house and Howard’s entire fortune…
“True, the ending of this movie teeters precariously on the edge of the “Scooby Doo” abyss, with the true nature of the plot against Irene revealed in a manner best suited to the mentality of the disproportionately young Saturday matinee audience, but given the fact that this audience had always been Castle’s bread and butter, this shortcoming is both understandable and forgivable.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“There is also an effective musical score throughout. However, all of this mood is wrecked by a mundane twist ending that is so unbelievably contrived that it ruins everything that has gone before.” Moria
“Mildly enjoyable horror may be rather generically plotted but it’s well paced and, if nothing else, serves to rejoin grande dame Stanwyck with her ex-husband Taylor. Best scene? The loopy wedding chapel-wax dummy dream sequence.” The Terror Trap
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“Despite many critics frequently citing William Castle’s penchant for gimmickry rather than touting his directorial skills, Castle shows once again here his uncanny, unerring ability to craft an unsettling, nightmarish shock sequence.” DVD Drive-In
“As with many Castle films, the first half is better than the second, partly due to a standout opening but an overly neat conclusion. Yet here, the opening might be Castle’s best: a surreal dream montage, the type for which Dali’s sequence in Spellbound was the prototype. Noir and mystery fans should enjoy it best.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“There are no gimmicks this time round that I know of, but the plot twists come thick and fast at the end and are liable to keep your head swimming. This one joins my list of favorite William Castle movies.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
” … with at least a dozen red herrings, and a climax in a “room of death” more hilarious than frightening.” John Stanley, Creature Features
The Night Walker was released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory on February 20, 2018.
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Final Cut Entertainment released The Night Walker on Blu-ray in the UK on 25 June 2018.
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Originally titled The Dream Killer
The role of Irene Trent was originally offered to Joan Crawford but she declined as she was already committed to appearing in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte
Imagery from the The Night Walker poster was copied for Mexican horror film Atacan las brujas (1968)
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