There's something tantalizingly evocative about the title. Not sure what it is, but before I hunted this film down (no easy feat) I had relatively high hopes for THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE. Of course, half the fun is in the chase, but whilst it's no great shakes, it certainly isn't as bad as many late 80s and early 90s bargain basement STV slashers.
The town of Pakoe is being 'terrorised' by a psychotic killer, who's been going round hacking off the heads of nubile teenagers. So far, so good. After opening credits complete with that doomy kind of track that sounds like someone playing a synthesizer with their man boobs, another girl is attacked by someone wearing what looks like a burlap sack and swimming goggles (kind of like an aquatic Jason Voorhees from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981)). Of course, the latest headless co-ed does little to dampen the mood of the town's teens and a party goes on as planned.
Jenny (Aimee Tenaglia - who looks kinda like Mr Burns in a ginger wig), is the daughter of Walt (Joe Fishback), the town's mortician. Seeing as there's a homicidal maniac roaming the town, old Walt is unhappy about her strutting her stuff at the teen party. Ignoring him she goes anyway; on the way, the resident nerd (with a classic over-sized early 90s fringe) jumps out at her with an ill-timed 'boo!' gag. Before she can get over that thoughtlessness, her best friend Debbie, muses the brutal murder of their friend, "Finally a little action in this dreary town!". Debbie gets more action than she bargained for when she has a her throat slit, and is then decapitated by the killer outside the local convenience store. Jenny narrowly misses this fate when her grumpy older sister Tanya (Monica Simmons), drags her ass back home after finding her out after curfew. Hilariously, the teenage boy who finds the headless Debbie tells the police he can't think of anything unusual at the scene. When he's pressed on the point he admits that there was a man in burlap mask skulking about, "Creepy - like evil, you know?".
The police seem a little slow on the take up, seeing as the local tree surgeon Charlie (Chuck Whiting) seems to fit the bill. Not only does he have an arsenal of sharp implements hanging on his wall, but he's also wearing the mask and get up of the killer. Walt tells the teens that Charlie was an old friend of his, who had only just returned to town after a freak chain saw accident that left his face horribly disfigured. Since his return to town the killings started. Hmmm.
Again, the girls grieve Debbie's death in the only way they know how: by throwing a slumber party! Which, as you can imagine is like a red flag to a bull to any self-respecting psycho. There's never a shortage of teens that need pruning ...
Like many SOV slasher features from this period THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE is a little dog-eared. Although it's light years ahead of rubbish like BLOOD CULT or THE RIPPER (both 1985), the limited budget and variable acting does take its toll - as does some truly abominable crimes against hair! On the plus side, the killer's mirth inducing confession will have cheese fans whooping with joy. The film also scores points for a witty visual gag where the killer changes the town sign, knocking another digit off the population after yet another body hits the floor.
Although it was made in 1990 the film looks back to the golden age of slashers, no more so than in a scene when a young lass is spied on by a heavy breathing intruder (in classic POV) as she enthusiastically soaps up her breasts (girls must have really dirty boobs in these things). In a bizarre bit of product placing she's saved by a can of Pepsi!
Despite being 'rated' EM (standing for 'Extremely Mature' - obviously in an effort to hoodwink gullible renters), THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE is only sporadically gory. Some of the kills deliver with the red stuff (including an especially splashy throat cutting and a juicy axe to the chest), but most of them are off-screen (which screams budget constraints over censorship).
After a series of entertainingly daft twists the film is topped off by a fiery chain saw climax (where the barn setting is clearly imitative of a couple of the FRIDAY sequels). However, reading back this review THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE it sounds more interesting than it actually is. Sadly, despite some good cheesy touches it's overall a trifle dull (a cardinal sin for any slasher flick, I'm sure you'll agree). Not a really bad film by any means but, despite its rareness, ultimately it's not one that you really need to hunt down.
female:2 / male:6
1) Female found decapitated
2) Female decapitated
3) Male killed (method unseen)
4) Male stabbed with shears and run over
5) Male found decapitated
6) Male impaled on farm machinery
7) Male whacked in the chest with axe
8) Male shot dead