2019 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 17: And Soon the Darkness (1970)

DAY 17. EVIL IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: Scary stories aren’t just for the night time.

A movie that’s referred to as “a sun-drenched nightmare” on its poster, Robert Fuest’s And Soon the Darkness is nearly forgotten today, which is a real shame. Fuest is probably better remembered for The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again than he is for any other movie, but he also made plenty more, like The Final ProgrammeThe Devil’s Rain! and Revenge of the Stepford Wives to name but a few.

And Soon the Darkness is about a day gone wrong, about being a tourist in a strange land and about how trust isn’t an easy thing to come by. It’s also an incredible film worthy of rediscovery.

Jane (Pamela Franklin, NecromancyThe Legend of Hell House) and Cathy (Michele Dotrice, the wife of The Wicker Man star Edward Woodward who was also in The Blood on Satan’s Claw) are two young nurses from Nottingham. They’ve decided to take a cycling holiday in France.

Jane’s been planning each and every stop on the route while Cathy is more interested in letting life happen. Life ends up being Paul (Sandor Else, Countess Dracula), a handsome man riding a scooter who catches her eye. The girls soon come to an argument and go their separate ways, with Cathy staying behind to sunbathe and perhaps catch up with Paul.

As Jane moves on to the next town, a cafe owner struggles to tell her that she’s in a dangerous area where young girls are often murdered. She decides to go back and find her friend, but she’s gone. A policeman is on the case, but Jane instantly believes that Paul is the murderer, despite him saying that he’s a plain-clothes detective who has taken an interest in the missing girls from this region.

What follows is the sun slowing setting on Jane’s hopes of ever finding her friend again, as she believes that Paul is closing in on her, ready to add her to his list of victims. But was there even a murder? Or is this all in her head?

There are no easy answers in And Soon the Darkness. It was written by Brian Clemens (who wrote See No Evil and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, as well as writing and directing Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter) and Terry Nation (The House in Nightmare Park as well as the creator of Dr. Who’s Daleks), who had worked with Fuest on the game-changing British crime show The Avengers.

This was remade in 2010 as And Soon the Darkness with Karl Urban, Amber Heard and Odette Annable. I’ve never seen it, but talk about a lot to live up to. Just the end shot of this movie, cast in a rain that isn’t about to wash away anyone’s pain, is brutal in its quiet intensity.

You can buy this movie from Kino Lorber.

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