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, December 4, 2011

Night Ripper! (1986)

... aka: Night Ripper

Directed by:
Jeff Hathcock


I can see where they were trying to go with this one, but they didn't quite have the budget (or talent) to pull it all off in the end. The film really lacks guts. And when I say it lacks guts, I mean it literally lacks guts. I'm only mentioning this because the plot involves a hooded nut going around murdering young ladies and then disemboweling their corpses, so this would have really benefited from showing a butchered corpse or gory murder every now and again. Instead, all of the nastier stuff is kept off-screen. In place of what should have been there are a few awkwardly-staged and horribly edited stabbings and throat slashings that are repetitive and dull. Subtlety doesn't bode too well for a shot-on-video slasher with amateur acting, silly dialogue, blink-and-you'll-miss-it partial nudity and a completely routine plot. This thing simply needed to be sleazier to overcome all of its other limitations, especially considering that the market is already flooded with hundreds of similar films with better production values than this one. Why not just watch one of those instead?



Darlene returns from "modeling class" only to encounter a bespeckled perv named Mitch (Larry Thomas) lurking around outside her apartment. The two briefly discuss "The Ripper," a local nutbag given the name by the press for similarities to the Jack the Ripper slashings (including showcasing knowledge of human anatomy and surgical precision in dismembering the bodies), then she heads inside to get ready for bed. Later on that evening the doorbell rings and, knowing full well that a serial killer who's been butchering random women is out there and that a weirdo is basically stalking her, Darlene decides to casually open the door without bothering to ask who's there. A gloved-hand reaches her a rose and all she manages to get out is a monotone "What the...?" before she's stabbed in the chest.




Mitch co-owns "Beauty Photography" with his business partner; photographer David (James Hansen). David is engaged to be married to Karen (Suzanne Tegmann), but becomes infatuated with Euro-accented legal secretary named Jill (Danielle Louis), who shows up at his shop looking to take bathing suit "glamour shots" for her boyfriend. But that's OK. Karen's fucking her boss, anyway. When David catches wind of her affair he starts to pursue Jill and, while the two start getting mushy, the psycho continues butchering women. Another woman is killed after informing her married lover that "This isn't love! This is two sweaty bodies fucking under flood lamps. And I'm sick of flood lamps!" Since many of the victims were models that could be directly linked back to Mitch and David's studio, police lieutenant Bernie (Simon De Soto) and his partner Dan (Lawrence Scott) start snooping around. They become especially interested in "Beauty Photography" after Karen is murdered.



Several suspects immediately emerge from the pack. One is, of course, Mitch. Not only was he already seen at the crime scene harassing a woman just minutes before she was murdered, but he also worked as a (gasp!) butcher for five years before deciding to become a sleazebag photographer. It's also revealed that he had been burned by a model girlfriend, who chose her career over him, years earlier. The second suspect is a flannel-shirt-clad lesbian mail lady named Janet (April Audia as "April Anne"), who tries to come on to Jill but is rejected and has a screaming fit because she wants "Angela" out of her head. While those two may be red herrings, the reveal is poorly telegraphed well in advance by poor acting and clumsy, obvious clues scattered throughout. The conclusion takes place at the "Vogue International" mannequin factory, where the psycho goes on a rant about women being bitches and models being users and bitches and how all models deserve to have their insides ripped out because they don't give a shit about anyone else's insides.




Along the way, there's some slight time padding, including as a minor subplot of the police pursuing a burglar and a three-minute long scene of someone driving through the city that's just an excuse to play an entire song. Despite being neither original (though the plot is no worse than what you'll find in the majority of other slasher and giallo films) nor good, I have to admit that I didn't have a problem sitting through this. I was mildly entertained. Mildly. I was even prepared to give this a slight pass... until the incompetent ending reared its ugly head to knock it down a notch. Oh well.



The only recognizable cast member is Courtney Lercara, who has just one scene here as a victim, but went on to appear in the fun low-budget backwoods slasher SLAUGHTERHOUSE (1987) and in Tim Ritter's KILLING SPREE (1987). Director / writer Hathcock also made VICTIMS! (1985), STREETS OF DEATH (1987) and MARK OF THE BEAST (1990; aka Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell). VHS by Magnum. No DVD.

★★

1 comment:

Jared Roberts said...

You know you're in the lowest rungs of budget when you see a shot of a middle-aged man with a mustache against a solid offwhite background. Nick Millard films thrive on such shots.

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