THE NIGHT WALKER. Universal Pictures, 1964. Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Judith Meredith, Hayden Rorke. Rochelle Hudson. Opening narration: Paul Frees. Screenplay: Robert Bloch. Director: William Castle.

   “…when you dream, you become … a Night Walker!” Or so goes the closing line of the opening narration, by the voice that also often did the lead-in to Escape, the greatest suspense radio show of all time. Sorry to say, in spite of all the talent that was involved in the making of this movie, it’s all downhill from here.

   It might have the murky reception our local cable company gives us of WTBS, but I think the plot was pretty murky to begin with. Barbara Stanwyck is married to an older man, rich, blind, and jealous – a dangerous combination — who, from overhearing her talk in her sleep, accuses her of having an affair with another man. He strikes her, she leaves, he goes upstairs and immediately dies in a laboratory explosion.

   Is she free? Not exactly. She begins to have nightmares, nightmares so real she is convinced they really are. Robert Taylor, who was her husband’s lawyer, is sympathetic, but he’ s hard to convince that she is doing nothing but dreaming. In the meantime, visions of Irene’s dead husband, even more badly disfigured than before, continue to haunt her.

   Is it real or is it all a dream? With Robert Bloch’s credentials as a combination fantasy/horror/mystery writer, it’s impossible to say in advance. Unfortunately, it was also almost impossible for me to stay awake. I’m awake now, but I really don’t think this movie will keep me awake later.

   I think that dreams are too personal to bring them very effectively to the screen. It’s been done, but with bigger budgets than this. Phony-looking make-up jobs and spinning cameras just don’t cut it, at least not any more.

– Reprinted from Mystery*File #32, July 1991, in slightly revised form.