Is there a cheesier, funnier (without meaning to be) actress than Linda Blair? A victim of early Hollywood success with The Exorcist, she hit puberty, tried being a teen queen and a scream queen, and then hung around on th... more »e basis of the success of her first major role, exploring the limits of her talent in a series of sub-B movies. This 1981 film, about bad shenanigans during Pledge Week at college, wasn't exactly one of the high points. This surprisingly tedious venture features a group of fraternity and sorority pledges forced to spend the night in an abandoned--and, of course, haunted--mansion that once housed a killer. And would you be surprised to find out that it still does? The cast includes Vincent Van Patten and Peter Barton, as though that's an attraction. No scares, no skin--what's the point? --Marshall Fine« less
Yet another in the endless stream of early '80s "Halloween" wanna-be's, this slasher flick stars Linda Blair of "Exorcist" fame (who, it must be noted, was all grown up 'n' quite busty by this time!!) as part of a group of fraternity pledges who have to spend a night in a supposedly-haunted house in order to gain admission to the frat. When they arrive at the house to begin partying and fornicating, a hulking mutation that dwells beneath the estate starts pickin'em off one by one.
Nothin' fancy and certainly nothing I haven't seen in a zillion other movies but this is still a fun retro-cheese flick.
Steven H. (sehamilton) from BIRMINGHAM, AL Reviewed on 6/16/2009...
I wanted to like this film, but Linda Blair's performance is unbelievably bad. She had put on some weight by this time and she lacks the grace and charm she possessed in earlier films. When her character becomes romantically involved, it's almost too much to accept. Unsatisfying entry into the slasher niche.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Entertaining slasher film
Thomas M. Sipos | Santa Monica, CA | 04/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yet another slasher film, but a good one.
Well, they're ALL good. But this is even better than most, mainly because Linda Blair and Peter Barton lend depth and sympathy to their characters despite some hokey dialogue.
It's initiation time on fraternity/sorority row. Four pledges must prove themselves worthy by spending the night at Garth Mansion, a huge abandoned estate. Years ago, Daddy Garth killed his wife and three mutant kids. The fourth mutant kid was never found. Legend has it he still stalks the mansion ...
Here's something odd. There are only four pledges: two guys (Barton and Van Patten) and two gals (Blair and Goodwin). Since when do fraternities and sororities hold joint initiations? And they are bid farewell on their initiation by a HUGE party. This implies a great many brothers and sisters. Yet at the rate of two pledges per year, the fraternity and sorority would each be down to eight members each within four years.
I guess director de Simone simply wanted lots of people at the party, but only two couples at Garth Mansion. I guess it's spookier (and cheaper) with just four pledges, never mind making sense.
Okay, I don't mind.
What's important is that the four kids are locked behind the tall iron gates of Garth Mansion, three upperclassman sneak in to scare them ... and the body count mounts!
The script and lead performances are a bit better than standard slasher fare. Barton portrays a sensitive rich boy. Blair is the poor girl with a heart of gold. She's also virginal, at first keeping Barton to his own bed, later cuddling and sleeping with him ... but just sleeping. Both keep their clothes on. Meanwhile, Van Patten and Goodwin fornicate like rabbits in the next room.
Guess which couple is killed first? And guess who survives the night?
Blair and Barton perform well, but Van Patten and Goodwin also add some dimension to their clich?d supporting roles: the [...] cutup and the sleazy party girl. Brophy, Neumann, and Sturtevant play the jerky upperclassman who sneak in to scare the pledges. They also provide much needed slasher-fodder. I liked Jenny Neumann in Stage Fright (aka Nightmares, Australian 1980), but she's under-utilized here.
Hell Night strikes tried-and-true horror psycho notes like a well-tuned instrument. One girl is pulled screaming down into a hole (although my favorite hole-dragging is in The Unseen, 1980). The psycho seems indestructible. They shoot him, but he keeps on going ...
But there are also some surprises, which is no small feat in this tradition-bound subgenre.
Cinematography and lighting are used to good effect. Shapes emerge from the dark, slowly, indistinct. Creeping up behind our unsuspecting heroes. Makeup is also simple but noteworthy. When we finally see him, the mutant resembles Nosferatu's Max Schreck.
The final scenes are visceral, even brutally poetic. 1981 was a good year for horror psychos, and Hell Night is prime vintage."
Horror at it's best !
Grant Allan | Hazelbrook, NSW Australia | 09/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie should be up there with the likes of "Halloween" as a classic of the genre. Unlike most of the slasher flicks of the eighties, "Hell Night" is not full of gruesome special effects and blatant nudity. Instead the movie relies on suspense, and it does this very well.
Let's face it, the story is not the most original, 4 sorority pledges have to spend 1 night in "Garth Manor" to gain entry to their chosen fraternities. Some of their peers set out to make it a night full of frights, but as is turns out, they needn't have bothered....Garth Manor is truly haunted. Heard it all before ? So have I, but I don't think I have ever seen the subject matter handled so well.
As awful as the deaths are, there is very little blood involved, and I don't think I saw one fake intestine ! The chills however, are plentiful. The setting, a dark, gothic mansion, candlelit and isolated is perfect. The mood is goosebump enticing. The music is eerie and the performances are all good. Of course, Linda Blair shines, as always. Ms Blair plays the nice quiet girl wondering what the hell she is doing in this situation, who turns out to be the only one with the guts to grapple with the monster 1 on 1.
If only more horror movies had attempted to do what Hell Night did. Pick your actors for acting ability rather than willingness to show flesh, and spend some budget on script development and filming techniques rather than bucketloads of blood and gore.
I have been a fan of this film for years and when I bought the DVD was amazed at the difference in picture quality. I actually saw things that I had never noticed on my VHS copy. The DVD also includes a theatrical trailer and amusing and informative commentary with movies makers and Linda Blair also. It also has some background info and filmographies of cast and crew.
I cannot speak highly enough of this movie. I recommend it thoroughly to anyone who enjoys a scary flick, as well as Linda Blair fans. I never tire of watching this brilliant effort !"
One of the First!!!!!!!!!!
S. Robinson | Germany | 03/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hell Night is an outstanding film, in my eyes it is one of the best slasher movies that was made. I also believe Linda Blair performance was even better than the Excorcist."
Lets go back into the haunted house about 67 times....
Usonian33 | United States | 12/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Hell Night" is an irresistible guilty pleasure from the early 80s slasher cycle, and one of the handful that actually still holds up (for instance, "Friday the 13th," "Prom Night" and "Terror Train" now seem about as suspenseful as "My Fair Lady").
Though the story is lame--pledges spending the night in a haunted mansion--the execution (sorry) is smart: "blood-dripped" font in the opening credits, trap doors, secret passageways, a hedge maze, catacombs under the house, a convincing monster, appealing actors, a really creepy "legend" that sets the story in motion, and even a little surprise twist regarding the antagonist. I love that our heroine Linda Blair is in Victorian garb (complete with heaving bosom), being chased around the old Victorian mansion. Nice touch. Ditto the scene of the fraternity arriving with torches, a la the "Frankenstein" villagers (in fact, the monster even looks like a leaner version of DeNiro's take on Shelly's creature).
I was struck, on my first viewing in almost 20 years, by how instense this movie gets. The last 20 minutes are quite nerve-wracking. I remembered the "rising carpet" scene vividly from the original release, and it still gives me chills (you should definitely let smart aleck little kids watch this--it will scare the hell out of them).
I'm also struck by how many shockingly bad decisions people in this movie make--like going BACK in the house 2 and 3 times, fully aware of what is waiting inside. It gets a little ridiculous after a while, though if you are watching with a group it makes for some lively discourse (Of course if they just hid outside in a bush until dawn, like you or I would do, there would be no movie).
There is a fun, light-hearted commentary included on the DVD. Always a pleasure to listen to funny anecdotes and about what a gentleman the guy playing the monster was, while watching people get their heads cut off.
You need this DVD.
Stewart Taylor | New Canaan, CT USA | 12/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was expecting Hell Night to be another one of those cheesy 80's slasher flicks, but then i watched it, and found it was so much more than that. It's highly original, entertaining,well acted, and beautifelly shot. It's pretty sad that it wasn't appreciated for what it was when it came out, due to the sudden rush of slasher flicks that premiered at the same time. In the end, i HAVE to thank Anchorbay for the great quality and extras on this dvd. It was about time!"