Four college pledges must spend a night in an old mansion for
kicks, only to be stalked and murdered by a deformed psycho.
Hell Night (1981)
Directed by Tom DeSimone
Written by Randy Feldman
Starring Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton,
Suki Goodwin, Kevin Brophy, Jimmy Sturtevant, Jenny Neumann
The initial synopsis I read of Hell Night led me to believe it was a ghost movie and that casting Linda Blair was a stunt. In truth, it's a slasher flick that Linda Blair joined to prove she was no longer the innocent little girl from The Exorcist. I think she could've aimed higher than damsel in distress, but I digress. Hell Night is way better than I expected. The characters are well-developed, so you care when they start getting killed off. There are some genuine moments of terror, including one that involved a shape rising from the floor that really got under my skin. My only issue is a lack of explanation regarding the monsters, and some scenes that really dragged on for way too long.
It's pledge season, and four freshman are hoping to pledge for their frats and sororities. But before they join up, they have to spend the night in the supposedly haunted Garth Manor, where a deranged father murdered his deformed children and killed himself. Of course, it's all a gag, and Marti (Blair), Jeff (Barton), Seth (Patten), and Denise (Goodwin) all end up pairing off and hooking up. Peter (Brophy), the frat leader, hooks up an elaborate scare system to freak them out, but things get real when a monstrous killer pops out from the catacombs beneath the house and starts killing people. Now, the survivors have to escape the grounds before this thing gets them next. It's implied that one of the monsters is a Garth child, but what the hell was the other one?
Hell Night is a decent watch, and one of the better, more developed slasher flicks I've seen. Linda Blair does a decent job, but her character is far less strong than I was hoping, even if she does get the final kill. The film suffers from some long, drawn out scenes of people just walking slowly through hallways, which gets boring real fast. And I wish we'd gotten a bit more info on the monsters. Still, it scared me once and I was entertained.