2 stars


directed by: Allen Pone
starring: Joe Manno, Ron Thomas, Randy Lundsford, Megan Wyss, Janette Allyson Caldwell, [and featuring:] The Sweetheart Dancers

(back of video blurb):


       David has it all- he's the star football player, the most popular guy in school and he has a terrific girlfriend. He does have one problem. David is under medication to control an illness that plagues him with violent fits.

       David's parents go out for the evening and he throws a big party for all his friends. Everyone is having a great time except for Joni, David's girlfriend. Joni, who isn't accepted by the group, is left isolated while David's friends crank up the music and begin a wild night of fun.

        As the party shifts into full swing, two convicts who have escaped from a nearby prison, decide to hide out in David's basement and begin to terrorise his party guests. Murder and terror reign as David's guests begin to disappear one by one. An unseen killer devises a different death for each victim as the house turns into a communal grave. Turn out the lights, this party is over! "

choice dialogue:

"You look like you're having as much fun as shock therapy!"

slash with panache?

       This film gets down to business and no mistake! A shot of a full moon, cutting to the sight of a teenage girl changing into a shiny leotard in front of a row of lockers … [Hold on a minute, this looks a little familiar] … She glances around, wandering in front of a big window where, behind her, a shadowy figure lurks… With a jolt she backs into a couple of other girls coming into the locker room- they all scream in unison … Now, I know a lot ofOoh, how post-modern! 80's slasher movies look alike, but there's good reason with this one- this is another slasher movie! It's revealed that a couple, snuggled up on the sofa, are watching all the er,… 'best bits' from GRADUATION DAY (1981) on television. They're your stereotypical couple from 1987- the year that taste forgot. He sports a mustache and mullet and she has a high-rise perm- and you just know they aren't long for this world. Whilst he goes out to check on the bar-b-que we see a hand pull a carving knife out of a kitchen draw and (with a standard POV shot) someone sneak up on the woman. Startled she turns round, only to relax when she realises who it is and says with a smile, "You scared me!"; before turning back towards the television. She's treated for her terminal stupidity with a knife in her back. ... When the hubby comes back in he gets it also. The assailant, who still remains unseen, then calmly sits down at a piano and, with their blood soaked fingers, bangs out a rendition of chopsticks (yes, chopsticks!). The screen goes dark, the credits roll and we're treated to a synth intro that'd make even Jan Hammer curl up and cry…

        I can't quite bring myself to chronologically list the events which lead to NIGHT SCREAM's 'climactic' party. Let's just put it this way… an unidentified someone has just been released from a mental hospital Cheerleaders, fat guys, wedgies, girls in bra's, ginger girls and mullets!because some quack theorises, "The patient has shown signs of violent behaviour in the past but these have been brought under control … I no longer feel that social interaction will be harmful." (We've heard that one before Doc!) … The local Highschool wins a big football game and all the jocks and cheerleaders (it seems no-one else goes there) have exactly the same hairstyles as the couple that died in the beginning of the film (which can only mean one thing…). They include all-round stud-puppy and football ace David (Joe Manno), who's on some kind of medication and, at one point, seems to have the voice of Pee-wee Herman; and his unpopular girlfriend, the slightly awkward Joni, who's new in town- and, unfortunately, ginger. …The cast gives each other wedgies… The big topic of conversation is David's party that Grrrr, it's the sweetheart dancersnight, but first they all go to one of those hideous neon nightclubs that people frequented back in those dark ages. Two things make it additionally unbearable- firstly a band that would make Huey Lewis and the News seem funky play song after song of bland late 80's MOR; and secondly a group of grinning cheerleader goons in spangly tops calling themselves the 'Sweetheart Dancers' pad out the running time with an seemingly never-ending floor show.

       Finally the party kicks off at David's house, but, unbeknownst to them, there's a couple of psychopathic escaped convicts hiding out in the cellar (ain't it always the way?)- who have already proved their bad-to-the-bone qualities by shooting up a truck stop café and spouting crap poetry. David is having little dizzy episodes- which are subtly announced with a bo-i-i-i-n-g on the soundtrack; and Joni skulks around in a bad mood 'cause The party gets into full swingall the girls want to jump David. …Somebody has the bright idea to put the stereo on and treat us to even more shrieking synths and the teens (and the one requisite nerd) get down to the riveting business of making countless visits to the wine cellar and indulging in sub-PORKY's buffooning (some of which includes another bit of blatant padding when a couple watch a soft porn film and we're treated to a succession of clips of women lathering their nipples in the shower)… Anyway, before my suspicions that I'd stumbled upon the late 80's forerunner to MTV's The Real Life were confirmed, someone finally shows up and starts to off the teens in the manner that we've become accustomed to…

       NIGHT SCREAMS has very little going for it, to say it stunk would be a compliment. There are a few fun kill sequences and a bit of hokey gore here and the body-count tops 20, but it's purely amateur day when it comes to the acting, directing and, well, just about everything else really. The last 20 minutes perk up a bit- but considering the unrelieved tedium of what's gone before it'd be a miracle if it didn't. The endings' a 24-carrott A teenage wasteland- at last!groaner too and will probably have you throwing your empties at the screen when 'chopsticks' starts up again, but at least it was a little leftfield. Nope, that's got to be it- I can't think of anything else nice about this flick.

       What really amazes me though, and the reason why I finally got around to watching this stinker, was the fact that some bright spark has brought this out on DVD. The big question has to be why? I've nothing against many of those cheesy early 80's slashers getting a DVD release- an uncut MY BLOODY VALENTINE would be a dream come true; and there must be a hundreds of other movies that are more deserving- for instance why hasn't there been a release of BLACK CHRISTMAS? But this? … Luckily I didn't pick this one up on DVD, no, it's been hulking space on my shelves since I found it at the bottom of a bargain bin in New York for a couple of bucks last year- but someone out there might have not been so lucky.

       If you were thinking of getting this then consider yourself forewarned. NIGHT YAWNS… your first will not be your last!


BODYCOUNT 21      female:8 / male:13

       1) Female gets a sword tracheotomy
       2) Female decapitated (off-screen)
       3) Male falls to his death
       4) Female stabbed with butcher's knife
       5) Male stabbed with butcher's knife
       6) Male shot with shot-gun
       7) Male set on fire and shot with shot-gun
       8) Male shot with handgun
       9) Female shot with handgun
     10) Female gets a sword tracheotomy
     11) Male thrown through window
     12) Female crushed by car
     13) Male killed by poisin gas in sauna
     14) Female whacked with axe in head
     15) Male has face forced onto hot grill and fork stabbed through neck
     16) Female strangled
     17) Male suffocated with cling film
     18) Male choked to death with pool cue
     19) Female electrocuted in hot tub
     20) Male stabbed in gut with butcher's knife
     18) Male stabbed in gut with butcher's knife