One dark night
12 years ago, madman Raymond Garth butchered his wife and children in their
creepy mansion before killing himself. Legend has it that one child survived
the slaughter and remains hidden in the house as a deformed monster. Tonight,
a group of fraternity and sorority pledges must spend the night in Garth
Manor on the anniversary of the killings. But even if these college kids
can handle one wild evening of sex, partying and pranks, will they survive
the ultimate horrors of HELL NIGHT?
"If you weren't screaming, and we weren't screaming - then someone is trying to mind fuck us here."
Okay, so if Hell
Night was a shampoo, it would be a simple lather, rinse, repeat formula.
Like many early 1980s horror films, its ingredients were college students
partying. This time fraternity and sorority pledges must spend a night
in an old mansion. Is the mansion haunted? At each sign of danger, the
youths go towards the scary sounds into darker areas or upstairs and will
either get chased around or killed, or both. Then start the process again. Hell
Night is guilty of this over and over, but....
Riding the wave
of slasher flicks post-Halloween, Hell Night at least holds
its own with a talented cast, solid direction and a lot of care put into
the production -- particularly the excellent lighting scheme. For a film
that takes place entirely at night, everything looks correct for night
time. No "day for night" shots or false levels for flashlights or moonlight.
People are probably not aware of all the work that really went into this
Kudos also for
opting for suspense and some character importance over the usual distractions
of naked gals and gore. When films load up on bare breasts in particular,
you know the film is distracting the male viewers more than anything else,
trying to cover up the fact that the scares are lacking (Friday the
13th Part 2 is an example). This film allows everyone including the
female viewers to enjoy and focus on the story rather than sitting and
waiting for the next T & A moment. (Not that there's anything wrong
with that.) For reviewers to complain about lack of nudity, there are plenty
of other films to satisfy that need.
During the usual
wandering through the corridors and chase scenes, there is at least a sense
of suspense since the characters and production are well above the usual
standard fare. Compare this to other productions of its time and you don't
seem to mind since the interest level is decent. Take a film from that
time like The Prowler -- that was a film that had no sense of spookiness
and spent so much time having characters just wander around endlessly.
seeing this film for the first time (especially if you have been weened
on more slicker productions), Hell Night might seem quite bland
by comparison. However, take into consideration the time it came from,
and the fact that it didn't rely on gimmicks like breasts, extreme gore,
or a "possible hits" soundtrack, it offers quite a lot of fun despite the
appearance of usual slasher fare. I found myself interested in each character
caring if anything happened to them, and found the almost late-1960s "Scooby
Doo" mystery element a treat. You have to give credit to films from
way back when, the danger situations had to be thought out better since
teens in peril didn't have cell phones to call for help! Sure, there was
a lot of crap passing themselves off as horror films, but Hell Night had some creativity to carry it through.
Sure, I've seen
plenty of scarier films, but Hell Night offers just enough fun and
those not being too picky will enjoy it as a mystery that holds up after
all these years. Could be too that faces like Linda Blair and Vince Van
Patten were noticeable faces in genre films and guest-filled shows like The
Love Boat back then, and there's a fondness that I know I have for
those fun times.
majority of the movie was shot in three locations. The outside of Garth
Manor was shot at a mansion in Redlands, California. The inside of Garth
Manor was filmed in a residential home in Pasadena, California. The frat
party was filmed in an apartment lobby in Los Angeles, California. The
mansion used as Garth Manor is now a museum in Redlands, California -the
owners made the change from private residence to a museum shortly after
filming was completed on the movie.
- The film makers had a hard time with the owl who was supposed
to fly directly at the camera. They eventually settled with a shot of the
owl flying to the upper right of the camera.
- The many underground tunnels filmed in the movie were actually
no more than two corridors in which the director had the actors running
repeatedly through from different angles.
- Filming took 40 days.
- The hedge maze was brought in as there was no actual garden maze
on the mansion property.
- Though the movie required several shots of the actors to run from
the front of the house to the front gates, the actual distance between
the two is one mile.
- For the scene where Jeff is thrown down a flight of stairs and
hurt his leg, there wasn't a lot of acting involved. In reality, actor
Peter Barton had really hurt himself and most of his limping was due to
being in real physical pain.
- This was the last film released by Compass International Pictures.