Film Review: Night Creatures (1962)

Captain Clegg Night Creatures

In 18th century England, the Royal Crown dispatches troops to a coastal village to investigate claims of  smuggling  and find themselves caught between recalcitrant villagers and mysterious skeletons on horseback. This Hammer production is based on the Russell Thorndike novel, Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh, but had to be drastically altered from the source material after Walt Disney Studios slapped Hammer with a lawsuit (their version of the same story, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, came out the same year).

In the best way possible, this film is like a live-action episode of Scooby-Doo, complete with pirates, marsh phantoms, scarecrows, and secret identities.  And if Disney were going to sue for anything, perhaps they should have sued for style — if I didn’t trust the opening credits, I’d swear it were a Disney film. Again, in the best way possible.

The charismatic cast is headlined by Peter Cushing as the dubious town vicar and Patrick Allen as the captain in charge of the investigation.  Oliver Reed and Michael Ripper costar in supporting roles. The film is decidedly on the side of the smugglers, which gives the movie a nice anti-authoritarian vibe.

The mystery is as transparent as anything the Scooby gang ever encountered, but I find Night Creatures (aka Captain Clegg) an endearing, spooky costume drama.

Rating: 3.25/5 ★★★¼☆ 

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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