FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Feb 23, 2012

Film Club: Hell Night

I wrote a review of Hell Night many a moon ago (2006! what the heck!), so, you know. That's pretty much taken care of. But I watched the film again last night in preparation for this Film Club meeting that has been called to order, and I jotted some notes and thoughts and musings whilst doing said watching. I will share in a moment, but first let me say that I was curious to see if I still liked this movie a whole mess- after all, sometimes opinions change, right? It can be bittersweet to let go of a childhood friend with a "Oh muh gah, I liked this movie? How much paste did I eat in the 80s?"

The good news is, I still loves me some Hell Night! Sure, she's got some pacing issues, but who among us doesn't? It happens with age. Sure, she's got some other issues as well, but who among us doesn't have a truckload of baggage? It happens with life. So now, here are some thoughts I had whilst a-watchin':

  • RED TITLES. They were ubiquitous back in the day (for reals. check out this gallery.) and I miss 'em. I'm not really one for big fancy title sequences in general- keep it simple, stupid! And RED.
  • PETER BARTON. Another 80s mainstay! Where is Peter Barton now? Is he dead? I have a feeling he's dead. Mind you, I have no proof of that and I can't be bothered to look it up...and he's not the only WHERE ARE THEY NOW person I feel that way about. I assume the broad from Ice Castles is dead, too. It's just a thing I have.
  • I JUST REMEMBERED that Linda Blair dated Rick James. Kids on cocaine do the darndest things!
  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE the legend of Garth Manor. And why not? Who doesn't love a good campfire tale? Only jerks, that's who. Whether it's Hell Night or Friday the 13th Part II or Madman, I find that these stories about wackadoos from years past really give the films some atmosphere. They instantly bring to mind being a young'un, telling dopey yarns and doing dopey things- heading off into the woods in search of a mythical Satanic church, that sort of jazz. Kids who love horror movies do the darndest things!
  • MAN they sure say "radical" a lot in Hell Night. This is in addition to the other gems of dialogue, such as "Quaaludes are murder on my skin!" and "The whole world's gone mad!"
  • LINDA BLAIR is not always the most convincing actress. Yes, we all love her, but I think it's okay to admit this. She certainly screams well enough, though.
  • MARTI is not the gold standard of Final Girls. Sure, she's the Final Girl and as such, she earns points for simply surviving the (Hell) night, but she just sort of cowers and shrieks through the whole movie. I would do the same, I suppose, but still. At least she wears a cameo choker the whole time!
  • CORPSE PARTY! INEFFECTIVE AUTHORITY FIGURES! Oh Hell Night, you drag out all the tropes. You could go through Slashers 101 while watching this movie and check off pretty much the whole book.
  • POOR SETH. He should have been Final Boy, I swear. He gets away, tries to find help, runs all over town, gets a gun and a car, goes back to the source of danger, kills a Garth, and then...gets dead. This is not fair!
  • WHAT DID THE GARTHS EAT whilst holed away in their dusty manor? Rats and stuff, I guess. Or maybe they had a potato patch on the grounds that we didn't see.
  • YOU HAVE TO ADMIT, Andrew Garth impaled on the fence all bloody-mouthed is a pretty cool end.
So there! I think my love for Hell Night is cemented in foreverness. The gothic angle gives it some pure panache and sets it apart from its slasher contemporaries. Hell Night is boss, and yet oh- why is it so often overlooked? It is a mystery worth ten Jessica Fletchers for sure. As for me, I'll be gorking out for a long time to come.

Slasher Studios
Thrill Me
Old Horror Movies (.net)
Movie Locations and More: Not a review, but check out these pics of a location visit!
The Movie Waffler
Sticky Red
Zombie Club
Scare Tactic
Vegan Voorhees: Lego. FOR REAL.
Greetings from Movie City USA
Life Between Frames
The House of Sparrows
The Scream Queen
Soresport Movies
Montana Mancave Massacre
Cinema Gonzo
The Great White Dope's mecha-blog-zilla
Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness
Film Shuffle


ZombieBodhi said...

You know, after reading your comment about Seth, I started thinking how he was probably my favorite character in the whole movie. And what is so intriguing about him is that he doesn't belong in a slasher movie, more like a surfer movie, a la Spicoli of Fast Times... instead of following typical slasher teen behavior and immediately putting himself in harms way, his first instinct at the first sign of a killer is to get the F&*k out of there, even if it means risk impaling himself on the iron gate. Not only that but he took matters/guns into his own hands when the cops wouldn't help. His only downfall was that he miscalculated the number of killers in the house. Poor Seth indeed.

Great choice for film club.

p.s. - just ordered Slashers 101 earlier, can't wait to check it out!

Dave Enkosky said...

I actually watched Hell Night for the first time for this Film Club. It was radical.

By the way, I think I should turn in my "Pop Culture Aficionado" badge for not realizing until now that Linda Blair dated Rick James.

Ryan Clark said...

I actually agree with many of your points, Stacie, so I kind of feel bad that I don't like this movie very much. This was fun, though. I need to participate in your film club more often! I can't wait for the next one.

kevin said...

I mention this in my review but am I the only one who finds Peter Barton to be WAY prettier than Linda Blair? Wish I had hair like his....

But, I digress, I've loved this movie since I was a wee little boy and still love it to this date. Great atmosphere, solid performances, and a pretty groovy killer. Good times to be had by all. Well, except those that I died I guess.

Sean said...

Loved this movie as a kid and still do. Those brothers were super creepy. Good fun. That is one scary house too. Luckily they had about a million candles in that place!

Kirk H said...

Well, I've been Gorking out for close to 30 years now and HECK NIGHT is still a top slasher fave (right above FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2, at number #6). It might not have the mythical power of HALLOWEEN or even MY BLOODY VALENTINE, but it always delivers the 1981 goods for me. Some things I love about this film: that rockin' title track that warns us- several times, in fact- to LOOK OUT, LOOK OUT because something is going to grab hold of us and there'll be pretty much NOTHING we can do. This hard rock gem even has a glorious 80's DOKKEN-y sounding solo, which means the song couldn't get more awesome if Nicky Minaj did a guest rap. I also love the lighting, which is very rich and moody for a low budget genre film (lighting for mood is something that all the best slashers excel at- just ask MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and that movie will tell you "when I'm in the mine, no one else can touch my shit, not even HALLOWEEN!"). And the rich, moody lighting that delicately dapples Linda Blair's chesty-parts the entire movie. As with all great slasher gals, I had crush on her and her cheek-pinching cuteness. *sigh* HECK NIGHT also gets major points for having an underground haunted tunnel system, and to that end, one of the more creative 1981 slasher moments: Andrew slowly rising up from the trapdoor in the floor while Peter and Linda pull a Jamie Lee in the foreground. This film also- delightfully!- has that elusive SCOOBY DOO vibe that few horror films can attain (TOWER OF EVIL, a realy neat British lighthouse-bound slasher from 1972, is one of the only other genre films that has this vibe as well as CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEWADS THINGS).
A good, fun, almost CLEAN time, compared to the sadistic ugliness of many slashers at the time (MANIAC, MOTHER'S DAY, SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME) and yet it still retains some shocks and enough bloody, blue-faced, staring corpses to keep the chill factor intact. Classy and a minor classic for me.

Kirk H said...

OOPS, my goof- replace the words SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME (1978)with EYES OF A STRANGER (1981). The former is classy Hichcockian fun and the latter is pretty sleazy and nasty. Sorry John Carpenter!