Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

After Midnight (1989)

Directed by:
Jim Wheat
Ken Wheat

This three-story horror anthology is reasonably well made, pretty entertaining and has a decent cast, even though the framing device used to tie the tales together is rather weak. Story one is about a couple (Marc McClure and Nadine Van Der Velde) whose car breaks down by a rumored haunted house, where they reluctantly decide to spend the night. The surprise twist ending of this segment is pretty good. The second story concerns four white bread suburban teen girls getting lost in a bad part of town, where they accidentally run over a psychotic bum and are then pursued by his killer dogs. Judie Aronson (FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER) is one of the stars and I liked seeing Tracy Wells (the annoying daughter from the 80's TV series Mr. Belvedere) getting chewed up. Part 3 (which is the best segment) is about a late-night female telephone operator (Marg Helgenberger, before she started getting a little freaky with the botox) being stalked by a mad fan. This segment is clichéd, but it's pretty suspenseful, well acted and well done for what it is. All of the stories are tied together by a confusing framing segment set on a college campus where a strange professor (Ramy Zada, from TWO EVIL EYES) and his students tell some of the "scariest stories" they know. It's pretty pointless and dumb, but at least features some fx surprises, including a walking skeleton and a good decapitation effect. Jillian McWhirter plays a psychic student, Pamela Segall plays her friend, and in smaller roles are Alan Rosenberg, Kerry Remsen, Richard Gabai and Patricia Tallman.

Sibling directors Jim and Ken Wheat (who share the same exact credits) are best known for writing screenplays for THE SILENT SCREAM (1980), ELM STREET 4 (1988), THE FLY II (1989) are other 80s/90s horror flicks. They also co-directed the 1983 thriller LIES and helped to create the sci-fi hit PITCH BLACK (2000), and its 2004 sequel THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK.


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