The Night Has Eyes is a British horror thriller filled with atmosphere and suspense boosted by James Mason and Mary Clare, enabling it to stand up well to the polished Hollywood product that crammed the British cinemas of the day.
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Joyce Howard & James Mason in The Night Has Eyes (1942)The Night Has Eyes (1942)

(Associated British Pictures) 79mins. BW. UK.
Credits: Dir. & Sc: Leslie Arliss; Prod: John Argyle; Prod.Manager: Hamilton G. Inglis; Ph: Gunther Krampf; Ed: Flora Newton; Art: Duncan Sutherland; Mu: Bob Clark; Mus: Charles Williams.
From the novel by Alan Kennington.
Cast: James Mason, Wilfred Lawson, Mary Clare, Joyce Howard, Tucker McGuire, John Fernald, Dorothy Black, Amy Dalby.

THE NIGHT HAS EYES is one of the all too few chillers that Pathe produced during the late Thirties, preferring instead to churn out dated romantic comedies that hardly claimed "classic" status, but nevertheless managed to turn a profit.
Leslie Arliss, director and scriptwriter for the film, was better known for his costume dramas made for Gainsborough, but with this film he succeeded in creating an atmospheric chiller that blended elements from JANE EYRE and Universal's The Old Dark House.

Schoolteachers Mariam Ives, (Joyce Howard), and Doris Drake, (Tucker McGuire), venture onto the fog enshrouded Yorkshire Moors to try and discover what became of their friend Evelyn who disappeared there one year ago. The weather unexpectedly takes a turn for the worse, and the two women soon become lost amid the dense fog, howling winds and gnarled trees, a scene heightened by Charles Williams' effective music score. In the distance Mariam notices an isolated house where they meet the reclusive Stephen, (James Mason), who is apparantly less than pleased with their intrusion.
Although Stephen insists that they stay just for one night, the house becomes cut off by intensive flooding in the area forcing the women to continue their stay. Slowly Mariam becomes infatuated with Stephen who she learns was once a composer until he was captured and imprisoned during the war. After his release and a spell in hospital, Stephen moved to the isolated house with his nurse Mrs. Ranger, (Mary Clare), now employed as his housekeeper. A brain specialist warned that after Stephen's experiences, he would at times experience an irresistable urge to kill.
Finally the women are escorted away by odd-job man Jim Sturrock, (Wilfred Lawson), when the flood waters receed, but against her better judgement, Mariam returns as she has fallen in love with the mysterious Stephen and begs for him to love her in return and let her help him. One night, under the gaze of the full moon, Mrs. Ranger administers Stephen's pills as usual, but Mariam learns that these drugs only make Stephen unconcious while Mrs. Ranger and Jim prepare a dead animal to look as if it has been killed by Stephen. His sickness has been cured long ago, but he is led to believe that he is still ill so that the pair of ne'er do-wells can continue to command their handsome salaries. When Mariam discovers that they were also responsible for her friend Evelyn's disappearance, the couple taker her onto the moor to sink in one of the many bogs, but Stephen comes to her rescue and forces his domestics to wander the moors knowing that they will succumb to the same fate they had prepared for Mariam.

Entirely studio bound, this chiller contains some grisly moments amid the effectively lit, and economical sets superbly photographed by Gunther Krampf.
Krampf arrived in Britain during 1931 after earning a fine reputation in his native Germany with such calssics as Orlac's Hande (1924), Henrik Galeen's Der Student von Prag (1926) and G.W. Pabst's Die Busche der Pandora (1928). His inspirational photography also added to the dramatic effect for Gaumont's prototype train thriller ROME EXPRESS (1932) and later in Gaumont's The Ghoul (1933).

Always a treat to watch is Mary Clare who found herself being cast as a villainess in the early Thirties with such genre offerings as The Clairvoyant (1934), Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935) and Hitchcocks seminal train thriller THE LADY VANISHES (1938).
Wilfred Lawson on the other hand found it difficult to stay employed due to his alcohol problems, but during the Thirties he was cast in The Terror (1938), the crime suspenser THE GAUNT STRANGER (1938) and later as an insane lighthouse keeper in Tower of Terror (1941).

THE NIGHT HAS EYES is certainly one of the better chillers Britain was "allowed" to release during the height of World War Two even though it received the restrictive H for Horror classification that prevented anyone from under sixteen from viewing the film. Consequently many cinemas refused to show THE NIGHT HAS EYES, as they believed the war torn public preferred more wholesome family entertainment during these turbulent times.
Nevertheless, this is still an effective thriller that made the most of its small budget and provides enough suspense for any discerning audience.

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