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Friday, February 17, 2012

Hell Night (1981)

In the late 70's, a sub-genre of horror became wildly successful and profitable: the slasher flick.  Films such as John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) gave birth to iconic modern monsters and we flocked in droves to see them kill off teenagers in creative and twisted ways.
Unfortunately, this also sent studios rushing to dismember the cash cow by producing poor imitations of the originals.  Bad special effects and sub-standard acting became the rule.  However, since these films made money, like Michael Meyers rising from the dead, studios continued to make more of them.
Hell Night is one of these films.  While the cinematography is decent, the special effects are groan-worthy.  Sorely missed are the talents of moderns splatter gods such as Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini.  Most the effects in this film look like they belong in a high school play.  It's a rather bloodless and cheesy affair in this viewer's opinion.
Furthermore, this film promises us the acting talents of two stars: Linda Blair of Exorcist fame and Vincent Van Patten who starred in more teen movies than I can recall.  Linda Blair is just not good in Hell Night.  It makes me long for the pea-soup shooting, head-twisting Linda Blair that scared the B-Jesus out of me when I saw the Exorcist for the first time.  This Linda Blair is completely declawed and lifeless.  Van Patten and the rest of the cast seem trapped in this film as well, with very little material to work with.
I know some people enjoy Hell Night and I've seen a number of positive reviews out there extolling its virtues.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people like this film.  If you're a fan of "real" slasher films such as Nightmare on Elm Street avoid this one like the plague.  It feels like the Disney version of slasher films and should be buried six foot under immediately.
RATING: Fair.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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