The Night Digger (1971)

35mm film, Metrocolor
mono, English

A British horror film directed by Alastair Reid.

Plot Summary

Mother is an ageing matriarch who rules the home she shares with the acquiescent Maura with an iron rod, whose world is turned upside down by the arrival of Billy, a motorcycling young drifter looking for work. Mother convinces herself that the outwardly charming Billy is a long-lost relative and Maura, initially hesitant, soon falls for the young man's easy going ways. Both are blissfully unaware that Billy is in fact a brutal serial rapist-murderer who buries his victims in the path of a new road, the evidence eventually being tarmacked over for eternity.


Director: Alastair Reid
© 1971 Yongestreet Productions
MGM presents a Youngstreet Film production. Made by Tacitus Productions Ltd.
Executive Producer: William O. Harbach
Produced by: Alan D. Courtney, Norman S. Powell
Production Manager: John Oldknow
Screenplay by: Roald Dahl
Based on the novel ‘Nest in a Falling Tree‘ by Joy Cowley
Assistant Director: Michael Dryhurst
Continuity: Jennifer Phillips
Director of Photography: Alex Thomson
Camera Operator: Mike Fox
Gaffer Electrician: Dave Clarke
Music Composed and Conducted by: Bernard Herrmann
Solo Harmonica: Tommy Reilly
Solo Viola D'Amore: Rosemary Green
Sound Recordists: Gerry Humphreys, Brian Marshall
Sound Editor: Chris Greenham
Make Up: Ernest Gasser
Hairdresser: Joan Carpenter
Costume Designer: Gabriella Falk
Art Director: Anthony Pratt
Assistant to Miss Neal: Valerie Eaton-Griffiths
Made entirely on location and completed at Twickenham Studios, London, England
Location Manager: Bernard Hanson
Casting Director: Mary Selway

Patricia Neal (Maura Prince)
Pamela Brown (mother)
Graham Crowden (Mr Bolton)
Jean Anderson (Mrs McMurtrey)
Peter Sallis (Reverend Palafox)
Yootha Joyce (Mrs Palafox)
Brigit Forsyth (district nurse)
Zoe Alexander (stroke patient)
Nicholas Clay as Billy
Sebastian Breaks (Dr Robinson)
Diana Patrick (Mary Wingate)
Jenny McCracken (farmwife)
Bruce Myles (bank clerk)
Christopher Reynalds (young Billy)
Elaine Ives-Cameron (gypsy)
Sibylla Kay (whore)

Alternative Titles

Das Haus der Schatten – West German title
The Road Builder



  • Castle of Frankenstein no.20 p.46


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.238
  • Bernard Herrmann, Hollywood's Music-dramatist by Edward Johnson pp.22, 36
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.217
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.287, 288
  • Fright Night on Channel 9 by James Arena pp.180
  • A Heart at Fire's Centre: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann by Steven C. Smith pp.116, 300-303, 353
  • Serial Killer Cinema: An Analytical Filmography by Robert Cetti p.316
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.163-164