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, October 25, 2009

Night Screams (1987)

Directed by:
Allen Plone

A late offering in the first American slasher cycle, this production from Wichita, Kansas is extremely dumb but decently-shot, packed with tacky 80s entertainment value and has that low-budget regional charm I just so happen to love (see OFFERINGS for more of the same). A pair of sadistic criminals kill two cops, shoot up a diner, escape into the woods and end up finding a large country home to hide out in. Meanwhile, musclebound football hero David (Joe Manno) has just won another game for his team and received word that he's snagged a full-paid college scholarship. The bad part is that it's a free ride to a college he doesn't want to attend and his wealthy parents just don't understand. The good news - well, good if you like chubby, shallow chicks with butch perms - is that all the popular cheerleaders now want in his pants. David already has a girlfriend, though; quiet redhead Joni (Megan Wyss), who's new to town and doesn't fit in with the popular people. David decides to throw a party anyway since his parents will be gone for the weekend. His folks remind him to take his medication before they leave because if he doesn't have it he'll become "violent." Perhaps he should just lay off the steroids instead?
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So David, Joni, David's best pal D.B. (Ron Thomas), his girl Lisa (Janette Allyson Caldwell), three other couples and comic relief fat guy Russell (Randy Lundsford) - who doesn't have a girlfriend cause, you know, he's fat - all congregate at David's home to party the night away. It's naturally the same home where the escaped cons from the opening sequence ended up. As they hide out in the wine cellar, the teens branch off to do their thing. Their "thing" usually involves two of them wandering off somewhere to have sex (bedroom, hot tub, sauna), one of them leaving to do something really quickly, their significant other getting killed while they're gone and then them returning to get killed themselves. The chief suspects are obviously the murderous criminals in the basement, but then again, we have David acting a little odd because he didn't get his prescription filled and Joni acting a little odd when someone cracks a shock therapy joke, so you never know.
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At the very least, the filmmakers attempt to make each murder scene a little different, so this has variety going for it. We get a face burned on an indoor grill, an axe to the head, poison gas let loose in a sauna, an electrocution in the hot tub, a strangling, shootings, a fire poker impalement and more. The film also delivers on the nudity, though it does so in the cheapest, strangest way possible. Apparently none of the ladies on hand wanted to do it, so they just swapped it all from other films and show it playing on TV sets throughout the film. The first source is from the 1981 slasher GRADUATION DAY, where we get to see a girl-changing-clothes and fencing-sword-through-the-throat murder, as well as Linnea Quigley running around topless and getting killed. The second source is from some porno film starring Seka, John Holmes and Honey Wilder, which one of the characters is watching. Both sources are sometime full screen and cut into the movie at odd times. Horror vet Herbert L. Strock (I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, THE CRAWLING HAND) was the editor!
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My absolute favorite part is a lengthy sequence featuring "the nationally-famous" Sweetheart Dancers; a bunch of frizzy haired chicks in sequin tops who do a horrible choreographed dance while some hair band plays in the background. Yes, I live for such crap.

★★

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good commentary , just watched it today, it's pretty bad, but I'm a fan of 80's slashers and most are far from being Oscar-worthy anyway!
Dani

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