Hell Night is a fun little 1980s flick that felt more like a throwback to 1930s/1940s Universal monster movies and it always helps having Linda Blair in the lead.
— Collector’s Edition —
Shout Factory | R – 101 min. – $34.93 | January 2, 2017
Date Published: 12/20/2017 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE — 3.75/5
Plot Synopsis: Four sorority and fraternity pledges — Jeff (PETER BARTON), Seth (VINCENT VAN PATTEN), Marti (LINDA BLAIR) and Denise (SUKI GOODWIN) — spend a night at an abandoned mansion as part of their initiation. But the house has a sordid history when an entire family was murdered and the killer was never found. As the four get settled in, waiting outside are three pranksters (KEVIN BROPHY, JIMMY STURTEVANT, JENNY NEUMANN) to scare the hell, so to speak, out of them. While they do get a few scares, their night gets a lot worse when someone, or something, is there and begins picking them apart one by one.
Note: This portion, especially the last part, contains many SPOILERS, so reader beware.
Review: I have to say, I really enjoyed Hell Night a lot. Sure, it’s not exactly very bloody and by 1980s slasher standards, very VERY tame, but as the film went on and we get to see the killers for the first time, this had a nice 1930s/40s era monster vibe going for it only in color instead of black & white. In reality, the story has many of the tropes of that era of horror with characters entering a creepy mansion overnight and is hunted down. This honestly delivered a lot of tension and thrills from me, which isn’t easy to do considering how many movies I watch even in a given month…
The cast here is great, though none more so than horror icon Linda Blair who stole the show in every scene she was in, but the others, like Suki Goodwin in her, ahem, attire, was a beauty in her own right. Vincent Van Patten, son of Dick Van Patten, is a lot of fun while Peter Barton played the leading man well enough.
Now, this isn’t to say Hell Night is perfect. The finale, while decent, was on the silly side. Going into spoiler territory here, but at the end Marti makes her escape, unlocks the gate and turns around and locks it again (despite the monster chasing her), gets in the waiting car (left by another character), somehow backs it up breaking one of the gates making it horizontal before gunning it only to find the monster on the roof (somehow) and turns around so said monster can get stabbed with that gate. Phew. It’s all very contrived beginning with taking the time to lock that gate when in reality she should’ve just taken off straight away.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover and includes a standard DVD Copy. The inner cover is reversible revealing the film’s original poster artwork.
Audio Commentary – Actress Linda Blair, Director Tom De Simone and Producers Irwin Tablans and Bruce Cohn Curtis together give their experiences working on the film. This is a fun little track.
Linda Blair: The Beauty of Horror (35:21; HD) is an extensive interview with the legendary actress looking back at her work on Hell Night as well as her career and how she began in the industry. ** NEW **
Hell Nights with Tom De Simone (26:57; HD) is an interview with the director as he returns to the home which is still standing today and also talks about the making of the movie. ** NEW **
Peter Barton: Facing Fear (20:50; HD) – The actor discusses his time filming Hell Night and memories from on the set and working with the director and co-stars; also goes through how his career and how it all began. ** NEW **
Producing Hell with Bruce Cohn Curtis (14:10; HD) talks about his process of the movies he chooses to produce. ** NEW **
Writing Hell (25:51; HD) finds screenwriter Randy Feldman on writing Hell Night. ** NEW **
Vincent Can Patten and Suki Goodwin in Conversation (26:53; HD) finds the two actors sitting down together for the first time in many years and recollect their work on the film. Alongside Blair’s interview, this is probably the best feature. A bit of trivia, one of the grips on the film was, supposedly, Kevin Costner. ** NEW **
Kevin Brophy and Jenny Neumann in Conversation (23:01; HD) is another wonderful feature as the pair chat about the project. Actually would’ve been nice if the entire cast was together for these “conversations” but still, well worth a watch. ** NEW **
Gothic Design in Hell Night (22:50; HD) is an interview with art director Steven G. Legler. ** NEW **
Anatomy of the Death Scenes (21:43; HD) – Various crew members – including Feldman, De Simone, makeup artist Pam Peitzman, special effects man John Eggett – talk about the process of making the deaths in the film. ** NEW **
On Location at Kimberly Crest (6:48; HD) is some new footage today at the mansion used for the exteriors. ** NEW **
Last up is the Theatrical Trailer (2:56; HD), TV Spots (1:05; HD), a Radio Spot (0:32; HD) and a Photo Gallery (8:31; HD) provided by De Simone.
VIDEO – 3.5/5
|As noted when the film starts, the 4K scan of Hell Night was done using the “best surviving film print” and some “minor footage” was missing so those were replaced with standard definition footage. With that being said, while this isn’t a great 1080p high-definition transfer, as there were numerous instances of film damage and lines, even dust marks, it probably is a moderate to good upgrade over any previous DVD releases. Detail is okay but not entirely sharp though dark levels are fairly stark.|
AUDIO – 3.75/5
|The movie includes a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track which is basic but pretty decent. Dialogue comes across rather nicely and any of the scary elements like the score or, say, a monster coming out from the darkness is relatively clear. On the downside, however, I did notice the occasional noise dispersion and some pops/hisses.|
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Hell Night is a fun little 1980s flick that felt more like a throwback to 1930s/1940s Universal monster movies and it always helps having Linda Blair in the lead. This “Collector’s Edition” release from Shout Factory has fine video/audio transfers and an outstanding selection of bonus features.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.