Monday, June 25, 2018

Evils of the Night (1985)

Directed by:
Mardi Rustam

Back in the early 80s, Mohammed "Mardi" Rustam acquired the rights to a just-barely-screened 1973/74 horror film called Dr. Shagetz (originally titled And God Bless Grandma and Grandpa and then briefly known as God Damn Dr. Shagetz), which involved a mad doctor and a town full of compliant killer old people out to suck the chromosomes from young victims to sustain their own lives. Because the original film must have been pretty dry on exploitation elements, Rustam shot brand new footage featuring additional violence and gratuitous nudity from Playboy's Lynda Wiesmeier to spice things up. That was all cobbled together and finally released to home video as EVIL TOWN by Trans World Entertainment in 1987. However, two years before Town even made it to video store shelves, Rustam had already filmed and released this movie. Instead of something completely different he decided to just re-film most of the scenes he'd already shot for Town with new actors and then recycle the whole blood-draining-in-a-small-town Shagetz concept, only replacing the mad doctor character with aliens. Otherwise, the two films are pretty identical right down to many of the same characters, same exact scenes and even some of the same exact shooting locations like the hospital.

After some spaceship footage clearly swiped from another film, we see a completely different spaceship land in the dark woods, where two oblivious teen couples also happen to be smoking weed and messing around. One of the guys is strangled against a tree while in the middle of having doggy-style sex with porno actress Crystal Breeze. Billy (Tony O'Dell, later to star in Chopping Mall and the TV series Head of the Class) and his girlfriend are then kidnapped. When Billy comes to, he's on a stretcher in small hospital. Having taken over the place, alien doctors Kozmar (John Carradine) and Zarma (Julie Newmar), along with understudy Cora (Tina Louise), stay busy extracting blood from kidnapped young folks. They need the platelets to extend their life span by hundreds of years and the blood must be taken from humans aged 16 to 24. While two female guards are distracted, Billy decides to high tail it out of there. He sets off an alarm opening the door and is then hunted down by one of the guards and shot dead with her laser ring.

Near the clinic is a lake and a small plot of sand where all of the college kids just love to hang out and do things their parents probably wouldn't approve of. And since this apparently was made by a bunch of dirty old men, the cameraman keeps giving us close-ups of asses and crotches, a girl is shown giving a banana a blowjob and random shots of two topless girls rubbing suntan lotion on each other's breasts have been inserted here and there. The main focus however is on Nancy (Karrie Emerson, another Chopping Mall star), her fiance Ron (Keith Fisher) and their friends Heather (Bridget Holloman), Brian (David Hawk) and helium-voiced blonde bimbo Connie (G.T. Taylor). The quintet camp out at the lake for the night. After they sneak off to be alone, Nancy and Ron are chloroformed and dragged off by two men wearing ski masks. They're taken to the clinic where Ron is killed and Nancy attempts to find a way to escape.

The following morning, Heather, Brian and Connie awaken to discover their friends nowhere to be found. After spending a little time looking for them, they return to the lake, get kidnapped themselves and then are tied up in a garage run by grubby mechanics Kurt (Neville Brand) and Fred (Aldo Ray). The aliens have hand-selected these two dolts to do their dirty work because of their lack of intelligence and are paying them off with "gold" coins that they're only allowed to cash-in once they leave (and are worthless here on Earth). But the extraterrestrial visitors are already over these two as they have a bad habit of roughing up, beating, raping and even killing captives prior to delivering them, which makes their blood unusable. Because of that and the fact the secluded college town is nearly empty due to it being break, the aliens have decided to move on in a few days. Fred is ordered to deliver the last three victims to them at midnight but Kurt can't keep his hands off the girls, which gives a few of them the opportunity to escape.

Other than having their blood drained, victims are strangled, beat over the head with sticks and get killed with a tire iron, power drill, axe and laser. A high pressure air pump is stuck into an ear, which shoots blood out of the other side (!), and someone gets crushed by a car slowly lowered onto them by a hydraulic lift. Considering all that, this has very little actual gore. However, it does have gobs of nudity. Because none of the main actors wanted to do it, a bunch of adult film stars were hired to shoot inserts that are all crammed into the first 20 minutes, are completely disconnected from the rest of the plot and I doubt the other actors even knew anything about until they saw the finished product. Most prominent are Jerry Butler (billed under his real name Paul Siederman) and Amber Lynn, who are basically around to have soft core sex in an abandoned house and then exit stage left. Also worth noting that the co-writer, Philip Dennis Connors, only has credits in adult films other than this one movie.

The feeble, slurring Carradine is often unintelligible in his few scenes (though it's still always nice to see him) while 60's TV icons Louise ("Ginger Grant") and Newmar ("Catwoman") aren't given much more to do but at least look pretty good, especially considering they were both 50 when this was shot. Best of the lot are Ray and (especially) Brand as the sleazy mechanics. Ray gets a few fun overacted moments while Brand (in his final film role) channels much of what he did playing the whack-job Judd in Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive, another Rustam production. I would gladly watch him play a psycho in at least ten more movies but it was never meant to be. The non-porn younger actors were clearly chosen based on how good they look in a swimsuit, not for their acting, so we can't really expect too much out of them. Many sources claim 80s B movie queen Dawn Wildsmith (ex-wife of director Fred Olen Ray) is in the cast, but she's nowhere to be seen and that's definitely not her playing the role of the alien commander as she's frequently credited.

While companion film Town's VHS release was basically it being put out to pasture, Evils seemingly refuses to ever go away. After a 1985 theatrical run, it was issued on video numerous times (starting with the Lighting VHS) and there have been at least 3 DVD releases: through Shriek Show in 2006, MPI in 2014 and, finally, Vinegar Syndrome in 2016, who now also offer it on Blu-ray. As is typically the case, it's being marketed as some campy 80s classic but it's really just a plain bad movie where the fun moments are too few and far between.

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