For the last four years, Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson has hosted a late-night horror movie celebration called Terror Tuesday and if you are a lover of horror, both esoterically brilliantly and obscurely awful, this night was invented just for you. The Terror Tuesday Report will dissect the movie shown as well as provide a barometer for the audience's reaction; as many of these films demand to be seen with an audience, this proves a vital component to the evening.
This week's film: 'Evils of the Night' directed by Mardi Rustam, 1985
The lake in the middle of woods is a popular spot for teens looking for recreational debauchery. They show up in droves to drink, smoke, and get all fleshy with one another. Unfortunately, and strangely unnoticed by anyone, teens in this area have picked up one more nasty habit: disappearing. A pair of auto mechanics are snatching up young thrill-seekers and depositing them at a nearby abandoned hospital. OK, now stick with me here. It as at this point where the aliens drain their blood in an attempt to increase their lifespans. This is what passes for plot in 'Evils of the Night.'
For the three people that have followed this feature since the beginning of the year, you will understand the weight of what I am about to say. 'Evils of the Night' rivals 'Boarding House' as the worst film of Terror Tuesday in 2010. Few films are able to pull off this level of ineptitude and fail on every conceivable level. Its flaws are rooted in its casting and branch out horribly from there. So for the alien protagonists, the makers of 'Evils of the Night' were clearly striving to prove that they could be as equal opportunity as possible by casting Julie Newmar, Tina Louise (Ginger from 'Gilligan's Island'), and two-feet-and-torso-in-the-grave John Carradine. The female extraterrestrials are sporting 60's mod sci-fi attire featuring short skirts that would have better suited them 30 years earlier and Carradine struggles with every line as if it were a death rattle. But at least they cast lots of porn stars as the teens to balance both age and talent. This would explain why the first few moments of the film don't just feel like soft-core porn but in fact are soft-core porn.
Nothing about this film makes the slightest lick of sense. What is so appealing about this sewage treatment plant runoff they call a lake that keeps them coming back despite the number of people that go AWOL after swimming there? They make mention of the fact that these two mechanics have been rounding up campers for a while and yet no one seems to notice. There are scenes of characters supposedly telling jokes, but the only way you would know that is that there is an actual pause in the conversation to allow the audience to laugh. I laughed harder at the assumption that anyone would find the jokes funny than the jokes themselves. There is also the painfully obvious fact that this elaborate plan to sustain youth in these aliens ISN'T WORKING!
But the thing that really drives me nuts about 'Evils of the Night' is that it becomes mired in its own ineptitude. It reaches a point where its z-movie charm wears off and it simply refuses to end. There are scenes of teens trying to escape the clutches of their captors in which they exhibit as much intelligence as one would normally find in a carpet tack and end up running around in circles ad infinitum. It is exhausting. The are also moments wherein characters are running for safety and inexplicably stop to look around for several minutes. It's then that you realize that they are trying not to run outside of the glow of the single overhead porch light that serves as the entire lighting design of the film.
If you can make sense of the ending of this film, please contact me so I may stop chewing off my fingers thinking about it.
Once again, this week saw a guest host presiding over the evening. This time it was Lars Nilsen, host of the accompanying weekly signature event at the Alamo: Weird Wednesday. Lars is no slouch when it comes to bringing equal parts laughs and insight in his film introduction and did a phenomenal job crossing over to the Terror Tuesday crowd. The reaction to the film itself isn't hard to predict. At first, the auditorium was alive with laughter at the amazingly awful events unfolding on screen. But as the film ground to a halt, I noticed a number of watches being checked and heads nodding. By the last scene, a goodly portion of my row was fast asleep. I think a movie like this is better served watching on VHS with a group of friends and lots of alcohol in an environment where it is perfectly acceptable to turn it off prior to act three.