DOA Review: Night of Horror (1981)


Once more, time to venture down the forgotten path, into the darkness to discover those movies that rank incredibly low in likes and overlooked by the horror fans, as before I accepted the mission to test the production of Night of Horror to see if it is worthy to stay buried or should it be granted a reprieve. Well, when dealing with words of ‘the worst’ or ‘how dare they ever’, one wonders what shall be the worst horror movie, and hence the concept of this column, here on The Horror Syndicate. Therefore a title called Night of Horror and a cover art showing a zombie, one thinks to the positive, even though it has only a $4,000 estimated budget perhaps some greatness lives there under the dust and grim of yesteryear, sadly no, not here, now or forever, the movie actually needs a retitling, maybe Night of Yawns. Yes, no horror exists, no scares, no deaths of the central cast, no blood, guts or gore, just driving, boring scenes, excessive narration and a slew of other unforgivable scenes. Sometimes a bad movie results in laughter at it or with it for the ludicrous design, but nothing makes it funny, in fact, no comical lines exist. Normally the inclusion on a ‘funny line’ used to break to tension to setup the next scare, but no suspense either, just yawning and boring storyline, which stays muddled due to audio problems and clumsy tells us near the end. The movie runs for about 80 minutes well short the customary 90 in horror films, now a rule exists tell the story in the straightest line possible, but one must include the all the standard marks. The production from director Tony Malanowski, who learned much from (and thanked in the credits with a good luck reference) Don Dohler, a very low-budget indie horror film who died in 2006 as they work on 3-movies together their first The Alien Factor (1978), had previous done work as an editor on Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). Since this film did one other horror as a director, but remained in editing for the most part on 14 other films, such as Nightmare Sisters (1988) and currently slated on the now filming project The Curse of the Gorgon. In addition, this movie not only found distribution, but with two companies Genesis Home Video in 1987,  and Star Classics Video, but also remade by Tony as The Curse of the Screaming (1982), [yes, a year later] this time using zombies instead of ghosts. Only Ghosts, appear in the movie, while the cover shows a zombie, sorry no zombies either, even they had standards.

The film starts with a few opening paragraphs in yellow font on the screen lasting over 30-seconds before going into the story, oh I wish they wouldn’t have done that, it was fine with the words on the screen, but alas they ruined it. Four people drive a camper to a place in the woods, along the way the vehicle has trouble, meet some Confederate ghosts, and solve a mystery and try to survive, okay made up the last part.

Alright, let’s begin the autopsy, I say that, because not many people know of this movie, it has laid rotting in the wretched display, obscure horror sometimes gives a flick give credit, not this time, best left unwatched. However, I did not adhere to that warning, but you should. Opening act starts in the dullest bar (bare walls) or someone’s basement with the rudest characters, as they Chris (Tony Stark aka Malanowski) and Steve (Steve Sandkuhler) have a very long boring discussion with their backs to the viewers. It covers a wide range of issues, drinking and about Steve’s absent in the band. Steve tells of the story (this movie) which has brought his crashing onto him, sound dreadful – it’s not. While this continues, the direction lacks, no one wants to see the backs of the characters, at least set up a table for some face to face time, and then the over saturation of brightness backlighting the characters and casting shadows and a bouncing off the corner wall. The audio sounds awful, a low hum emits over the scene, adding to the zero infliction of nothingness from the actors, all rather monotone.  Steve starts the narration which presents itself many more times throughout the film as (a voiceover) and sometimes quite unnecessary, and leads into the actual movie starting about 10 full minutes into the movie. It doesn’t get any better, it is here the audience meets Steve’s half-brother Jeff (Jeff Canfield) his wife Colleen (Gae Schmitt), Susan (Rebecca Bach) and as the RV of Steve pulls up to greet them. They journey to visit 25-acres of land and cabin left to them and otherwise no reason for going on the trip.

Then the movie begins the tiresome sequence of driving, with more driving and then scenic driving with the centralized theme music playing in the background, and the longest bridge crossing duration in a movie, with the camera facing upward to the sky and super structure gridlers overhead. The camera’s position switches to facing outward to a river and tanker ship passing, all with the no reason, no dialogue, nothing but more driving. One doesn’t know whether to yawn excessively or scratch their nether regions, to stay awake through the 60-minutes of dullness on the screen. The film contains very little dialogue, and does have another glaring mistake either a smudge or a piece of black tape appears at the bottom of the camera lens and remains there for several minutes.

As the driving continues, a brief mention of Poe raises the alert in the horror fans still able to stay awake during the film, but rather false hope as it drifts away from this reference, and the driving continues even further, with more voiceover from Steve. UGH!’

Soon enough, another horror cliché occurs the RV breaks down and Colleen begins sensing vibrations, the spiritual ones, as Steve works in the daylight, then night, and the back to daylight to fix the camper. Someone inadvertently misplaced the correct sequence of the scenes, or the lighting was not correct for the placement in the movie, it really does not matter to story, believe it or not. Colleen encourages in the driest voice ever, to have a séance over a fire at night in the forest, and thereby makes contact with Confederate ghosts, sorry to disappoint they aren’t anything scary. They stand silently, look normal in the fog, nothing like those with glowing eyes, and time ravaged bodies of the war these rather look like reenactment soldiers. Then begins a duration of an endless speech, cue the history teacher, the transitions to show a battle between confederate and union with a weird folk-song of god, death, and other themes playing, all concerning find their captain’s severed head, and believe Colleen is their Captain’s reincarnated wife. These ghosts’ bring no threat, harm, and ideally not that bright, their actions and language all seem quite modern. Fret not, no spoilers here, the final sequence lies in the murky darkness, allowing one to wondering what is happening with the plastic skull they found in the ground, and returning to another graveyard. The darkness of the scene prevents any understanding of what is occurring, no camera light nothing assisting with anyone cast or viewer.

One needs to take a moment to explain the understanding of a tagline; it normally fits the width of a poster and then shrunk down to fit then a VHS or now a DVD, in other words 5 to 7 words. A logline normally 25 to 30 words with 75 as the max, which is the movie’s concept. However, Night of Horror’s tagline tallies in at 42-words: “When four people are stranded on what was once an ancient battlefield, one of them is haunted by a voice from the past. As she tries to answer their call for help, a chilling nightmare unfolds… thus begins the “Night of Horror.”  This actually fits more the plot, except for the chilling nightmare, that definitely does not occur in this movie, unless you are 5-years old watching this, and even then I doubt it.

Aside from no story, the scripts takes care of ending the interest in the movie, thanks to an assist of shakey camera work, and series of unfocused images, filthy lenses, and a long-winded explanation to a movie about a dull tale, best if only 20-minutes. Nevertheless, one wonders where the horror is, we get the night reference but horror of what, nothingness, ghosts – dull ones. It all becomes a boring story, terribly done, the horror of watching it to the end, furthers the problem.

One needs, to note that this movie, does not deserve a rating of 1.4 no, much lower, the Birdemic 2, has more going it than this movie, at least it gave an attempt to entertain. This results in boring long driving sequences, and Steve’s monotonous voiceover narration, in a movie with nothing horror related, aside from harmless ghosts. The score fails, no killing, no murders, and no spooky moments – nothing. Avoid! Save yourselves from the Dullness!

imdb rating (as of 2/11/17): 1.4/10

DOA Rating: 1.2/10


About Baron Craze 33 Articles
Consider by many as a Horror Historian, writing detail reviews on many sites, with the first horror I ever saw was Grizzly (1976), from there I discovered Vincent Price and Christopher Lee movies, and of course Universal Monsters. I never watch the films just once, no rather multiple times, as I got older become both a completeist (the goal to watch all the horror films possible) and started to research many films to new depths of interest. Many of my reviews contain vast amounts of details about each film, in a fair review. In addition, a screenwriter and actor and producer of Blind Documentary, called A World Without Boundaries, and podcast DJ of 4 weekly shows 2 metal and 2 horror theme. Enjoy all things Horror, Gothic, and Macabre. Favorite Quote of Mine: "The Extreme Makes a Lasting Impression!"