Newest Reviews
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Forever Purge, The
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Deadly Games
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
No Time to Die
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Power of the Dog, The
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Suicide Squad, The
One Night in Miami...
Prince of Nothingwood, The
Mr. Jones
Enfants Terribles, Les
Newest Articles
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
  Night Digger, The Hit The Road
Year: 1971
Director: Alastair Reid
Stars: Patricia Neal, Pamela Brown, Nicholas Clay, Jean Anderson, Graham Crowden, Yootha Joyce, Peter Sallis, Brigit Forsyth, Sebastian Breaks, Diana Patrick, Jenny McCracken, Bruce Myles
Genre: Horror, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Maura Prince (Patricia Neal) has a part time job at the local hospital on the outskirts of London where she teaches stroke victims in learning to recover and speak again. She had experience of this herself when she fell ill some years ago, and the head doctor asks her to stay on and take up the post full time, but she declines because she feels she has to look after her blind, adoptive mother (Pamela Brown). The mother is a controlling sort, but Maura's guilt if she left her, after all the older woman had done for her when she was sick, keeps her under her thumb...

So what we need in this scenario is another character to upset the apple cart, and he arrives in the figure of a young man who claims to be the new gardener, Billy (Nicholas Clay), roaring up on a motorbike which carries the few, meagre possessions that he has and with a yarn to spin about losing everything else in the farmhouse fire which killed his mother. We never find out if what he says is true, but if you've ever seen this type of psychological horror or thriller before, especially from this period, you'll be well aware that such polite young men are not to be trusted thanks to them harbouring some dangerous personality quirk.

So it is the case here, in a set up reminiscent of the Albert Finney remake of Night Must Fall, not a work fondly recalled by many people, but the screenwriter here evidently thought it would make for a decent template for his efforts. Interestingly, that writer was Roald Dahl, now best known, and rightly so, for his classic children's novels, but also an author who liked to dabble in the macabre, mainly with his cruel, twist-laden short stories. That aspect of his work was well to the fore here, written as a vehicle for his wife Patricia Neal and including a stroke for the character which mirrored the actress's own medical misfortunes, though otherwise he seemed to be pretty down on poor old Maura.

Maybe Neal was the sort of actress nobody could accept having a fine time of it for too long, as many of her best known roles would depict that kind of twist of fate, but The Night Digger, as it transpired, was not one of her best known roles. As the old before her time Maura, she was sympathetic but foolish if she thought she and Billy could forge ahead in a new life together considering what he got up to in his spare time. He was the title character and he was actually running away from the dark shadows in his own mind, something which he finds catching up with him and there's nothing he could do about it - he could of course have turned himself in to police, or even visited a psychiatrist, but, well, he doesn't.

What Bily gets up to once the sun goes down is rape and murder, the staple of this sort of suspense piece of this era, tying his victims up, doing unspeakable things (we imagine - the camera cuts away before this gets too gruesome) and burying the bodies in a road due for resurfacing, the ideal hiding place. If this was sounding grim, that's because it was, with the Victorian mansion the Princes live in one of the most depressing homes in horror, not because it was a classic of the art, but because it was all too believable as a place where these two miserable women would spend their lives. If there was humour, it wasn't especially funny, more weird, with Mrs Prince mistakenly believing the local vicar and his wife are about to get sex change operations to swap genders so she can become the vicar - hilarious, right? With some famous faces like Peter Sallis, Yootha Joyce and Likely Lads star Brigit Forsyth as one of the victims, this was a British film all right, but the ending was unforgivably murky, leaving an off-kilter impression though Bernard Herrmann's score was solid.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3319 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: