The Night Caller

Rating 4

Directed by John Gilling

Written by Jim O’Connolly, based on the novel ‘The Night Callers’ by Frank Crisp

Starring John Saxon, Alfred Burke, Patricia Haines, Maurice Denham, John Carson, Jack Watson, Barbara Stevens, Stanley Meadows, Warren Mitchell, Aubrey Morris and Robert Crewdson

A small unidentified pod, apparently emanating from outside the atmosphere of the planet, crashes on scrubland and is taken to a scientific research establishment for analysis. It is a transportation receiver, allowing an alien creature to come to Earth. When several young women disappear in London shortly afterwards, it is suspected that a connection exists between the two incidents.

Clearly made on a miniscule budget, this 1965 British sci-fi b-movie initially adheres to the template established by the ‘Quatermass’ films of the 1950s – and also points the way forward to the Jon Pertwee-era ‘Doctor Who’ stories, without, of course, the presence of the Doctor. Not a great deal happens during the first 30 minutes or so, but there is no flab and no diversions for back-stories or sub plots. Everything moves along at a nice pace, including plenty of charming period cod-scientific dialogue.

Once the action moves from the research establishment to London, and Scotland Yard takes over from the Army, it becomes an old-fashioned British police thriller. It is during this part of the film that we witness the single moment of violence, which actually makes quite an impact because it is so unexpected. When buckets of offal and fake blood are tossed about indiscriminately for the entire duration of a film it might make us queasy, but it also desensitises us to the violence so that it no longer makes any impact and quickly becomes tedious. The opposite happens here.

I was also not expecting the appearance of the character Thorburn (Aubrey Morris), an odious Soho back street bookshop owner, who we learn had previously spent time in prison for living off the proceeds of a prostitution service and now deals in pornographic magazines. In effect, the story is turned into a metaphor for the sex trade, a subject that seems incongruous in the circumstances, but makes for an interesting twist to what proves to be a rather strange and unexpected film.

‘The Night Caller’ is also known as ‘Night Caller from Outer Space’ and ‘Blood Beast from Outer Space’.

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