Happy Hell Night DVD Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Anchor Bay
Directed by Brian Owens
Written by Ron Peterson and Brian Owens
1992, Region 1 (NTSC), 87 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on August 3rd, 2004
Nick Gregory as Eric Collins
Laura Carney as Liz
Ted Clark as Ned Bara
Frank Hughes as Sonny Collins
Charles Cragin as Father Malius
Jorja Fox as Kappa Sig Girl
Darren McGavin as Henry Collins
Irfan Mensur as Young Father Kane
Sam Rockwell as Young Henry Collins
Back in 1965 a group of drunk frat boys recreate an occult ritual during a hazing. Things inevitably go awry and Father Malius ends up getting possessed. Being a Catholic priest, Malius is not to happy about this and ends up killing seven of them before being captured by the law.
25 years later, Malius is still locked up at the state mental hospital where they do not feed him, yet he mysteriously still lives. Now it's Hell Night again, the night when all the drunk frat boys haze potential new initiates. As an initiation prank, two of them decide to break into the hospital and visit Father Malius. Things don't go as smoothly as the drunk frat boys plan, and suddenly Malius is free and killing people again!
How many drunk frat boys will he get this time?
About 40 minutes into this movie I had to pause it and grab the DVD box. Then I had to go online and look this movie up. Yep, it was made in 1992. No, it wasn't Italian. But if you watch this movie, you'll swear it was made in 1983 as a cheap Halloween / Prom Night rip off. It also has the same meandering, disjointed, poorly edited plotting of a bad Italian horror film. After 40 minutes there was only a partial back story and lots and lots of filler. This was supposed to be Hell Night, the night all the fraternities haze the new initiates. People kept saying what a wild night Hell Night was. The crazy kids were cautioned by the Sheriff not to get out of control this year. I think there was one initiate, no wildness, and only a lame party. The Sheriff had nothing to worry about.
The acting was stiff and horrible. The dialogue was ridiculous. Sadly, even Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Christmas Story) sucked in this movie. Like the rest of the actors he slept walked through his role. He had a small part, and you hope he only did this movie to cover his losses at the track. The movie also features Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Matchstick Men, and the upcoming Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and Jorja Fox (TV's "CSI," Memento) in very forgettable roles. Fox plays "Kappa Sig Girl," and serves as fodder for one of the most horribly executed kills in horror film history.
The only one worth watching in this movie is Charles Cragin, as Father Malius. He's menacing, creepy and deviant. The only question I have is, what the hell is Malius supposed to be anyways? Sure, he's possessed, but he doesn't eat and hasn't aged in 25 years. He came back from the dead, so is he a vampire? Some kind of ghoul? A zombie? In the end it's not important. By the time you begin to ask those questions you will have realized that the movie is entirely half-assed to begin with and we are lucky he's not wearing a Halloween mask and carrying a machete.
Brian Owens and Ron Petersen did not have much of a film career after this movie. Owens went on to co-write Brainscan, another lame horror movie, and this was Petersen's not so gracious swan song from the industry. I can't say that I'm surprised. What surprises me is this movie got made in the first place, and, more importantly, that Anchor Bay saw fit to release this on DVD.
In horror movies, warnings of "Keep Out" or "Stay Away" are generally ignored and the characters usually end up dead. Do yourself a favor and learn their lesson. Stay away from this movie, it's not even good for laughs. It just plain bites.
I want my 87 minutes back.
Video and Audio:
Anchor Bay is well known for their remastering of horror and other lesser known movies. They give these films new life on DVD, using only the best available source material. You can usually count on AB to release a very good looking movie. Unfortunately, the project manager on this title must have missed that page in his employee handbook. While I have seen worse picture quality on DVD, this is fairly bad. No, it doesn't look like it was mastered from a VHS source, but it is dark, grainy and very old looking. Colors are faded and the overall picture is soft and fuzzy.
AB includes a rather unimpressive mono track on this one. It was competent, I could hear what the actors were saying, but it was flat and uninspiring. There was a lot of background party music that could have enhanced the overall feel of the movie. Sadly, it was all lost and muddled in Monoville.
One whole extra. A trailer, and it wasn't all that good. It was anamorphic, though.
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Sony 27” WEGA TV, Toshiba SD 3900 DVD player, JVC 5.1 DD/DTS receive and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)