was not appreciated for their horror movies until the advent of Hammer Studios in the
'50's, but The Night Comes Too Soon is a rarely seen, yet effective ghost story from the
THE NIGHT COMES TOO SOON
(1947/Federated/British Animated) 52mins. Aka: THE GHOST
OF RASHMON HALL (US).
Credits: Dir: Denis Kavanagh; Prod: Harold Baim;
Associate Prod: A. Jarratt; Sc: Pat Dixon; Ph. & Sfx: Ray Densham; Ed: Dorothy Elliot;
Art: George Ward; Mu: Harry Duchamps. From the book by Lord Bulwer-Lytton.
Dyall, Anne Howard, Alec Faversham, Beatrice Marsden, Howard Douglas, Anthony Baird, Arthur Brander, David Keir, Frank
Dunlop, Monte de Lyle, Nina Erber, John Desmond.
One seems to come across films like these
very seldom. This little-seen curio produced in post-war Britain is as creaky as its doors
and could easily be thought of as an earlier work. Filmed at Bittacy House in London's
Mill Hill for British Animated Pictures, this effort is subtley unnerving, and although
the shoestring budget is evident, the film remains an effective slice of spooky cinema.
George Clinton (Valentine Dyall), arrives at Rammelsham Hall, the home of John and Phyllis
Stanton (Alec Faversham and Anne Howard), where the guests have been listening to a ghost
story on the radio. During the ensuing scepticism, Clinton relates the tale of John and
Phyllis' arrival at the manor.
While house hunting, John and Phyllis are shown the ruins of 18th century Rammelsham Hall
by an estate agent. A plaque on the outside the house reads: Rinaldo Sabbata 1776-1827,
the rest of the inscription is revealed with an accompanying deep, sinister voice.... "Necromancer, one who draws power from evil!".
Even after viewing the rubble and dust inside the manor, and John is frightened by the
shadow of a statue, the couple surprisingly decide to move in. Dr. Clinton holds the sculpture and dramatically remarks in a completely nonsensical sentence.... "Yes. It might have been this, ...or was it? And if it wasn't
this, ...what was it?!"
Eerie noises, dripping taps, creaking doors and spectral manifestations unnerve the new
tenants, forcing them to move temporarily to a nearby Inn and enlist the help of Dr.
Clinton, a man "interested" in psychic phoenomena. The discovery of a collection
of love letters found in the cellar written from a sailor to a woman named Marianna, and
the information found at the local library, leads Clinton to the truth regarding Rinaldo
Sabbata, a practitioner of the Black Arts, who had killed his wife Marianna and her lover,
John and Dr. Clinton return to the manor haunted by the dead lovers and when dawn breaks
they discover under the floorboards a compass in a saucer, and a book containing the words
"All that it can reach within these walls, as moves the needle so work my
will. Accursed be this house and restless be the dwellers therein. Signed... Rinaldo
Clinton smashes the saucer and the hauntings cease.
As Dr. Clinton listens to the discussions of the guests, he gradually fades away with
Sabbata's words repeated for good measure.
NIGHT COMES TOO SOON boasts the
talents of Valentine Dyall, who easily stands out
from the rest of the cast of unknowns. Dyall was a gaunt actor with a resounding voice who
became famous as wartime radio's "Man in Black" and in many other supporting
film roles that include City
of the Dead (1960); as a shady gatekeeper in the acclaimed The
Haunting (1963) and another tale involving an isolated mansion, The
Horror of it All (1963).
Anthony Baird, would continue to appear in films from the mid-40s onwards including Ealing
studio's The Dead of Night (1945), in the
first story "The Hearse Driver" and also as a victim of Tod Slaughter's Sweeny
Todd in a brief vignette made for Bothered By A
Alec Faversham was reteamed with Dyall for the film I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! (1945)
Denis Kavanagh directed with sound and
special effects by Ray Densham, both of whom seem to have left no other traces of cinema
The American posters mistakingly refer to
the manor as Rashmon Hall.
Although the film could easily be greeted
with derisions of laughter, there is an eerie atmosphere that is indefinable, conjuring up
an uneasy feeling that causes the viewer to look over their shoulder just to make sure
that no-one is there. Fans of spooky- house tales take note.
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