HELL NIGHT (1981)
Article 2096 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-11-2006
Posting Date: 5-9-2007
Directed by Tom DeSimone
Featuring Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton
Four fraternity pledges undergo an initiation by spending the night in a spooky old mansion. Unbeknownst to the pledges is that some of the fraternity members have rigged up the place to scare them. Unbeknownst to all of them is that the madman mentioned in legends about the place is alive and is intent on knocking all of them off one by one.
Were I ever to forget that I am now far enough into this series that movies from the eighties occasionally come creeping up on my lists, movies like this will certainly remind me. Since I’m no big fan of slasher movies, I fully expected to hate this one; however, I found it to be not near as bad as I expected. On the plus side, the characters are likable (and better developed than is usually the case for this sort of fare), it does have the occasional good twist to some of its cliches, and I do like the idea of throwing some “old dark house” action into the mix. On the minus side, it’s pretty predictable, Linda Blair’s performance is quite bad, most of the attempts at humor are abysmal (the best is a joke about quaaludes and skin condition), and the movie tries to get way too much scare mileage by having people find dead bodies. Oh, and did I mention that there are moments when people act with incredible stupidity (a flaw that seems almost de riguer in slasher films)? The best moment is an exciting chase scene in the caves below the house.