Night Creatures aka Captain Clegg is a 1962 Hammer production thriller about an 18th century smuggler’s village seemingly terrorized by skeletal phantoms. Starring Peter Cushing, Oliver Reed, and Yvonne Romain, this enjoyable thriller is a hidden gem in the Hammer catalog worth checking out. Scream Factory's Blu-ray sports an excellent A/V package and a bevy of special features. Recommended.
“Their faces were like nothing of this Earth.”
Outside of Gothic horror pictures, Hammer Productions dabbled successfully in sci-fi, psychological thrillers, and adventure films. Their reach into pirate flicks yielded titles such as The Pirates of Blood River, The Devil-Ship Pirates, and Captain Clegg. Retitled in America as Night Creatures this flick is where we find a gothic swashbuckling epic nestled within a smuggler’s paradise terrorized by phantoms. What more could you ask for in a movie?
Royal Navy Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) is sent to the coastal town of Dymchurch to investigate a possible smuggling operation. Known as the town where the infamous Captain Clegg is buried, locals are more afraid of the legends surrounding the Romney Marsh Phantoms who ride their skeletal horses at night. Reverend Dr. Blyss (Peter Cushing) is the spiritual anchor of the village who is always one step ahead of Collier. As the revenue men tear apart the town looking for answers, Blyss’ daughter Imogen (Yvonne Romaine) and her suitor Harry (Oliver Reed) plot their escape. Complications arise when one of Collier's men uncovers a secret far more dubious than the terrifying marsh phantoms.
The film is based on the book Doctor Syn - A Tale of Romney Marsh from author Russel Thorndike. Many details have been altered due to an infamous conflict with Disney. At the time the House of Mouse was producing a mini-series based on the book entitled The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. Director Peter Graham Scott would helm the better feature for Hammer productions but ultimately his adventure thriller would become the forgotten gem we know today.
Night Creatures maintains a brisk pace as we’re taken through the twists and turns of the story allowing for plenty of time to soak in the energetic performances. The stakes are always high as Collier’s presence begins to tear away at the facade holding the quaint village together. Peter Cushing delivers an enthusiastic performance having the time of his life bouncing around the village skirting the snooping eyes of the revenue men. A charismatic Oliver Reed smolders on the screen with his youthful bravura as Harry Cobtree. His love interest Imogene is played by the buxom Yvonne Romain who paired up a year earlier in the outstanding The Curse of the Werewolf.
While not your usual Hammer production filled with gothic monsters and bloody effects, this swashbuckling adventure allows for some monstrous behavior and a few well-placed scares that will surely appease any Hammer aficionado.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rayNight Creatures arrives on Region A Blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory. The disc is housed in a standard keepcase with reversible artwork. The disc loads the Scream Factory logo before landing on a static Main Menu screen with typical navigation options.
The AVC encoded 1080p HD image is presented in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Sourced from a 2k scan of the interpositive, this presentation of Night Creatures looks fantastic with bright primaries, fine detail, and heavy film-like grain.
Reds, greens, and blues are confident throughout the feature. Facial textures and costuming show modest detail in medium shots. Closeups veer between fine detail and fuzzy complexions. Black levels are solid though some day-for-night sequences tip the balance into deep grays. Sets are well-appointed with layers of textures and colors from wood paneling fibers to ornate decorations. Slight print damage occurs during the Mulatto / Clegg fight scene but only for a few frames. Blink and you’ll miss it.
My OLED screen vividly renders the marsh phantoms searing white skeleton costumes against the inky black night. In some frames you can distinctly see facial features of the riders underneath the hoods. A stark image that adds more life to an otherwise astounding scene. Those with the recent Hammer box from UK label Indicator may find their release of Night Creatures to be lacking the color definition and clarity afforded with this stellar release from Scream Factory.
Night Creatures arrives on Blu-ray with a solid DTS-HD MA Mono track. Dialogue exchanges are clearly discerned without hiss or pop detected. Brooding orchestral music and effects are balanced offering a pleasing experience even during scenes of heightened drama or violence.
Scream Factory has loaded this release with new and legacy material giving plenty for fans to explore. Start with the commentary track then move through the featurettes.
Night Creatures is an exciting thriller cloaked in the gothic tones of a typical Hammer production and filled with an energetic cast who are having a roaring good time. While the “creatures” themselves are barely a blip in the narrative the film is an entertaining jaunt for Hammer fans new and old. The Blu-ray from Scream Factory boasts an excellent A/V package coupled with a bountiful loot of bonus features. Recommended.