October 15, 2011

Horror-A-Day: Hell Night

After taking an excursion into a lesser entry in one of the 80's venerable horror series, I have decided to journey a little further back. I thought it was about time to travel to the early days of the slasher boom. Halloween and Friday the 13th kicked the style off in earnest. He 80's saw a host of one offs, rip offs, and wannabes arrive on the scene. Some of them proved to be memorable, like The Burning, while others showed their true colors right away as has beens destined to be forgotten in short order. Still, even the bad ones can prove to be fun.

As I was trolling through my Netflix streaming queue, trying to decide what to watch next, I stumbled across this little number. It is called Hell Night, has an intriguingly old school poster art and stars a one Linda Blair, who all horror fans knows rose to prominence as the possessed Regan in The Exorcist, which stands as one of the scariest films ever made. Well, even without watching, I think it is a foregone conclusion that Hell Night will not be anywhere int he vicinity of that classic earlier film.

Hell Night proves to be not terribly bloody, not terribly scary, and not terribly over the top entry in the burgeoning slasher genre. It follows the formula to a T, never deviating, never wavering, and never becoming anything interesting. It is the sort of film where nothing much happens in the first half and in this age of Netflix, I probably should have just turned it off and moved on to something else. I didn't do that, I soldiered on to the inevitable conclusion, finishing with the knowledge that I would never have to revisit it again.

The movie opens during Rush Week and there is a big costume party going on. As the party gets going, the frat president takes four pledges, two frat pledges and two sorority pledges and take them off for them to begin their hazing. There test is to spend one night in the Garth house, a large old house with a dark past. It seems the Garth family had trouble having children. They had four children, but they were all deformed or mongoloid and the father apparently killed them all, or so the story goes, the youngest may still be alive on the grounds.

The story is told by the frat president wearig a big purple cape. Well, our pledges, including Marti (Linda Blair), get locked on the grounds. They take it all in stride and settle in for a night of naughtiness with the boys. They start hearing things and split up to look around, they find some tricks set up, but they also discover there is a killer on the grounds. Who will survive and how will Marti dispatch our deformed killer? Watch it to see.

What? How do you know Marti is going to be the survivor? Well, there is the way she is introduced, but there is also the fact that she is the one recognizable star of the film. Of course she is going to survive!

Hell Night is not a particularly good movie. It doesn't have the blood or gratuitous T&A to survive on. It is not a particularly interesting story, the killer is not all that special. It all feels by the numbers like they made it to bank on Blair's name and the growing popularity of the genre. This is one for die hards only. I think you would enjoy the previously mentioned The Burning much more, it still has formula on its side, but it is a lot more fun.

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