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Garth Manor Isn't Empty! Hell Night 30th Anniversary Review

Today (8/28/11), the slasher cult clasc Hell Night was released into theaters thirty years ago in the glorious year of 1981. Last week was the anniversary of An American Werewolf in London (which I neglected to review, but today, it's Hell Night. The film would probably be forgotten today, if it wasn't for Linda Blair (The Exorcist) starring as the staple virgin. I really cannot imagine the film being as popular among slasher fans if it wasn't for Miss Blair. That's not to say it's a bad film; it's actually pretty good, which is why I'm giving it a retrospective that will (hopefully) do this film justice. Watch your back; it's...

Hell Night 1981 30th Anniversary Review As the movie starts, we have your stereotypical college party: There's lots of beer, partying in the streets, costumes, the whole shebang. We are also introduced to our main players: There's the unnaturally Cherubic-faced Marti (Linda Blair), party-hardy Seth (Vincent Van Patten), sexy Denise (Suki Goodwin), and nice rich guy Jeff (Peter Barton). The four are about to be initiated in order to join the college's fraternity and its ster sorority. On hell night, they have to spend the night in Garth Manor, where a father killed three of his four freak children before killing himself. However, Andrew, the fourth child, was never found, and it is rumored he still roams the Garth Manor grounds.

As the four enter the manor, Seth and Denise immediately break out the booze and head upstairs for some (you guessed it) sex, while Marti and Jeff do less romantic things like talk and try to get some sleep. Sleep is almost imposble, thanks to some members of the fraternity (along with their leader) rigging the house so it makes all sorts of spooky noises, and even having some very good special effects spook the four. However, someone else is out to get them, and not just to scare them. Has Andrew Garth returned to seek vengeance against his dead family? The film was shot in forty days, and I find that a bit hard to believe. There aren't too many locations, and multiple scenes were shot in the same room. In fact, the tunnels during one scene were actually two tunnels that the actors ran through multiple times with the camera placed in different angles. If you're on the fence about seeing the movie due to there only being four teens in the manon (and some of them have to survive) which must mean there's a low body count, there's actually a bigger body count than you'd expect because of the college kids who go to Garth Manor to scare the four pledges.

There's very little gore, but there are some creepy moments that (almost) make up for it. Even though Andrew Garth looks lly at times, he's pretty scary if you don't look closely. Blair makes a good final girl, but even though we're supposed to root for her, I was rooting on Seth all the way. Even though he had sex and was therefore doomed to die, I was still cheering him on and hoping he survived. He actually manages to climb over the huge gate and heads to the police for help. They think it's a college prank, so he steals a shotgun and heads back to face on the killer.In fact, I'd say Seth is the best reason to see the film, because he surprised me at how quick-thinking he was. He didn't want to wait until morning to leave after someone's been killed; he's hopping that gate!

Even though I really enjoyed it, I would say that one viewing of Hell Night is satisfactory enough. It's a fun slasher, but it wasn't bloody enough for my tastes. Vincent Van Patten and Linda Blair, and I also enjoyed the other actors and actresses (there weren't many). This was released on DVD in 1999 by Anchor Bay, and that DVD was re-released in 2008. I wouldn't say it's worth buying, but seeing that there really isn't any way you can rent it, I guess you're kind of forced to make that purchase.
ObscureCinema101 Sunday 8/28/2011 at 08:39 PM | 81709