Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Hell Night (1981, Tom De Simone)
Hell Night is a film I remember seeing the video box for many times when I was younger. I knew of Linda Blair from the Exorcist and had read that her career pretty much spiraled into a series of lame horror films, cameos and spoofs of her most famous role. At the time I was into horror movies but mostly slashers and zombies and Hell Night looked like a crappy haunted house movie. I used to actually get this movie mixed up with Motel Hell, another one I had seen on the video shelves numerous times but never had much interest in. I can't remember what made me finally watch this but I found an out of print Anchor Bay double feature with Fade to Black and figured I couldn't go wrong.
Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity is taking four pledges to old Garth Manor to spend the night. The manor was the site of the brutal murder/suicide of the Garth family. The only remaining Garth was made to watch his murderous father's suicide as the only fate worse than death. When the Police arrived though, only three bodies were found. The gates to the property are locked and they are too high (and spiky) to be climbed. If the pledges make it through the night, they will be accepted into the fraternity. The pledges, which include rich boy Jeff (Peter Barton), surfer Seth (Vincent Van Patten), slutty May (Jenny Neumann) and outcast Marti (Linda Blair), start hearing and seeing weird things but soon realize they are being spooked by the fraternity president and his friends. Or are they?
Hell Night has a lot going for it. A great setup, fun characters, realistic and gory deaths/makeup effects. The dialogue is pretty silly and just plain bad at times, but the movie is still enjoyable. Linda Blair, who is always fun to watch and looks very cute in this film, proves her acting skills....or lack thereof (sorry Linda). The rest of the cast are decent, including Friday the 13th part 4's Peter Barton and Rock N' Roll High School's Vincent Van Patten. The film has lots of surprises and the fate of some of the characters is surprising too. So despite a few flaws, this is a real fun midnight movie that should please fans of slashers, monsters and haunted houses.