Who: One-time skin-flick director Tom DeSimone; screenwriter Randy Feldman, long before he'd grace us with Tango & Cash; '70s stars Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, and smokin' Suki Goodwin*.

What: A slightly amusing mixture of early-stage slasher antics and old-school haunted mansion chillers. It's about a bunch of college kids who spend a (Hell) Night in a desolate, massive house ... only there's someone (or something) hiding in the basement. Shocking turn of events, I know.

When: August of 1981. Other genre films in the marketplace at the time were Deadly Blessing, Student Bodies, and An American Werewolf in London. Colorful month.

Where: In and around Hollywood, with one impressively atmospheric mansion as the main stage.

Why: To combine the quaintness of the "bump in the night" flicks with the decidedly sexier "new" hack & slash approach. It actually makes for a pretty creepy flick, once you get past the first 20-some minutes.

The Good: It's nice to see the little girl from The Exorcist all grown up ... and still starring in horror flicks! Woohoo! The flick also benefits from a sense of humor, some cute girls, and a handful of creative kills.

The Bad:
It's a pretty basic affair, not even kooky enough to warrant a real cult following. I'd still contend it makes for a nice double feature with Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse. (That's how I first saw it back in '83.)

The Ugly: Hell Night kinda looks like it was shot by a porn director, but I guess that's part of the fun. Also, the antagonist is a pretty goopy freak.

The Verdict: I liked it more than Ebert did. But not a whole lot more.

* Just kidding. Hell Night was Suki Goodwin's only movie. Darnit.




The '80s Archive is a project I came up with that will hopefully combine my affection for 1980s horror films with my love for bullet points, random trivia, and alleged wit. If there's a flick you'd like to see covered, find me on my Twitter page.
CATEGORIES Reviews, Horror