After Midnight (1989)
Article 5997 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat
Featuring Jillian McWhirter, Pamela Adlon, Ramy Zada
What it is: Horror anthology with a message
An unorthodox professor teaching a course on the “Psychology of Fear” intends to make his points by actually scaring his students. When he is forced to use more conventional methods in his class, he holds informal sessions in his home, where he has the students tell terrifying stories. One involves an old dark house, another involves a psycho and his killer dogs, and the third is about a terrorized telephone operator.
I’ve seen enough shoddy horror anthologies in my life that I’ve come to expect the worst from ones I’ve not heard about, but this one was much better than I expected. One of the things that makes it interesting is that it sets forth a theory that what can really happen is much scarier than what seems far-fetched and impossible, and the scary stories here are particularly lacking in supernatural touches; instead, we get a backfired practical joke and two psychos. The first story is the weakest, largely because it takes way too much time setting up an overly familiar situation in the first place; the other two are fairly suspenseful. However, I notice that the framing story isn’t above resorting to the supernatural when it feels like it; in fact, anyone who has seen the 1945 classic DEAD OF NIGHT will recognize what’s happening in the final moments of the movie. Personally, I do take some issue with reality vs. supernatural slant of the movie; for me, the horror movies with the supernatural are more fun than the ones without it.