Friday, October 19, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: HELL NIGHT (1981) from Scream Factory - October 19, 2018

Starring Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton, Kevin Brophy, Jenny Neumann, Suki Goodwin, Jimmy Sturtevant
Screenplay by Randy Feldman (as Randolph Feldman)
Cinematography by Mac Ahlberg
Edited by Anthony DiMarco
Produced by Irwin Yablans, Bruce Cohn Curtis
Directed by Tom DeSimone (as Tom De Simone)
Originally released by Compass International Pictures
Released by Scream Factory

Hello again horror hounds and welcome to Day 19! Wow, the month's almost over already? Time does fly when you're having fun watching horror movies every single day! Speaking of horror movies, today's film is an oldie but a goodie. And the star of the film is none other than the legendary Linda Blair. Her resume includes both horror and cult classics like THE EXORCIST, SAVAGE STREETS and CHAINED HEAT. For today, I had the pleasure of watching a movie that's been long out-of-print. Now thanks to Scream Factory, her horror movie HELL NIGHT is now back and better than ever!

The film's official synopsis: As an initiation rite into Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity, four pledges must spend a night in Garth Manor, twelve years to the day after the previous resident murdered his entire family. Two of the pledges, Marti and Jeff ignore the rumors that the now-deserted mansion is haunted by a crazed killer, until one by one, members of their group mysteriously disappear. Could this be a part of a fraternity prank ... or is a demented former tenant seeking revenge? When this seemingly innocent night turns deadly, these college students will do anything to survive Hell Night.

I loved the opening of the movie. Director Tom DeSimone has a long unedited and uninterrupted shot of a major college party and it pans to the right and captures the spirit of this festive event. I sat there thinking to myself, "Dude, we didn't have college parties like that back in my day! Hey, that looks like a lot of fun! Was this happening back when I was in college? Man, those college girls were hot! Hey, I remember that brand of beer! I wonder if they still make it? Speaking of making, those two college kids are making out big time! Awwww.....I miss college." That's what I was thinking, but I digress.

Original Theatrical Poster (1981)
DeSimone builds up the story slowly, maybe a tad bit to slow for me, but when the scares gets going, the blood starts flowing. The storyline is pretty simple, but the production values look amazing, capturing the Hammer Horror Gothic look. He sets up the scares perfectly, as it builds and builds to one cool and painful looking climax in the third act. Credit also goes to screenwriter Randy Feldman for writing a fun and scary horror movie that looks and sounds authentic, meaning the characters are look and sound like young college students and not what a Hollywood executive thinks what they would look and sound like.

Linda Blair was one of the most beautiful actresses at this time. I had a bog crush on here when I saw her in ROLLER BOOGIE. She's so confident in her acting that you cannot look away from her when she's on the screen. Also appearing in the film is Vincent Van Patten as Seth, who you've seen in ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, PAYBACK, and on TV series like Baywatch and The Young and the Restless. Blair's love interest is Jeff is played by Peter Barton, who's titles include FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER and television shows like Burke's Law, Sunset Beach, and The Young and the Restless.

The movie was released to theaters on August 28, 1981 by Compass International Pictures, the same distributor that brought us HALLOWEEN, ROLLER BOOGIE (another Linda Blair Picture), FADE TO BLACK, and BLOOD BEACH (the company would close after this release and return four years later as Trancas International Films, an affiliate of Universal Studios and current copyright holders of the HALLOWEEN franchise). It would gross $2.3 million against its $1.4 million budget, so not too bad but not that great either. It was was released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment in 1982, then later on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 1999. In January of this year, Scream Factory released the film for the first time on Blu-ray in a Collector's Edition set (with DVD).

The Blu-Ray/DVD Combo comes with these excellent extras: New Interviews With Actors Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Vincent Van Patten, Suki Goodwin, Kevin Brophy, and Jenny Neumann, Audio Commentary With Linda Blair, Tom DeSimone, Irwin Yablans, And Bruce Cohn Curtis, and Original Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots. The following special features are only Blu-ray Disc Exclusive Bonus Features: Interview With Director Tom DeSimone, Interview With Producer Bruce Cohn Curtis, Interview With Writer Randolph Feldman, Anatomy Of The Death Scenes With Tom DeSimone, Randolph Feldman, Make-up Artist Pam Peitzman, Art Director Steven G. Legler, And Special Effects Artist John Eggett, On Location At The Kimberly Crest House With Tom DeSimone, Gothic Design In Hell Night With Steven G. Legler, Original Radio Spot, and Photo Gallery Featuring Rare, Never-before-seen Stills.

HELL NIGHT is a fun and overlooked 80's slasher movie that will please fans of both the genre and Linda Blair! While not quite on par as with the other films of this era, the fact that it's now available in a new 4K scan and completely restored, it means that horror hounds will be able to enjoy the movie all year round! So come out and take trip down to the old Garth Manor, and see if you can survive the night! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

HELL NIGHT is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo from Scream Factory. To purchase a copy, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

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