APRIL 19, 2011
It seems like half of the horror movies I watch have at least one other title, particularly the independent ones of the 60s and 70s, since their distributors would change the title and re-release it in a different region as an all-new movie (or to avoid anyone remembering that it tanked elsewhere, which was the case for I Spit On Your Grave/Day of the Woman). So I assumed Night Of Bloody Horror was just an appropriately exploitive title that they used to get more attention than, I dunno, “Mama’s Boy” or something that might be a more appropriate title.
But nope! It seems that this is indeed the original and only title for this particular film, which takes place over months (so “Night” is out), isn’t particularly Bloody, and it’s only Horror because of the process of elimination keeping it from being a Western or a sci-fi movie. It’s not scary, the few kills are all the same, and it seems writer/director Joy Houck Jr would just toss any goddamn thing on the screen in order to meet a feature running time, including a lengthy “trippy” music number and a hilariously overlong photo montage in which we see the development of a relationship between hero/possible killer Gerald McRaney and a girl who better end up dead, quick, or else there’s no movie (since the movie is about every girl he becomes involved with ending up dead).
Well, luckily she does indeed die not too long after that, making the sequence all the more hilariously worthless. It reminded me of a great SNL sketch about "The Hulk Hogan Talk Show", where they cut together this 60 second opening credits sequence and recorded a theme song and everything, and then cut to Will Ferrell explaining that Hulk Hogan couldn’t be there and that he’d host instead. Except the movie’s not supposed to be funny.
The main problem is that it’s just too damn dull for its own good. McRaney’s character isn’t interesting enough to either root for or truly fear, and by the time the twist ending comes I doubt anyone will still be engaged enough to care. It’s obviously influenced by Psycho, but this version of Janet Leigh (the girl from the photo montage) doesn’t ever come across as a real heroine, making her death the polar opposite of shocking. And McRaney may be a beloved television star, but this (his first role in anything) doesn’t exactly do him any favors, and even if he delivered a more interesting performance, he’d still be a long way from living up to Norman Bates, who remained sympathetic even AFTER we found out he was up to no good. McRaney’s just sort of THERE.
That leaves mother, who, in its biggest departure from the basics of Psycho, is still alive. But they don’t stray too far; she’s got the corpses of her husband and other son propped up in a room, and talks in the husband’s voice. Really drawing outside the lines there, Houck. But she’s probably the most interesting character, because you almost feel kind of sorry for her, as McRaney’s all she’s got and he’s now interested in girls and getting into barfights instead of hanging around her all day. However, it’s this rather narrow-minded bit of characterization that helps make the twist at the end so much easier to guess, so it’s sort of a mixed bag.
At least there’s some unintentional humor to keep it from being a total waste of my time. The radio announcer in particular was a delight, explaining that the nude body of “an attractive young woman” was found (an ugly woman wouldn’t make the news, I guess), and I also liked McRaney’s wacky mental freakouts, where a bunch of cartoon spirals would flash on the screen around his head, as if the Penguin was trying to hypnotize him or something. I also quite liked the numerous interrogation scenes (McRaney is a suspect pretty much from the start), as the cops question his sexual preference using colorful language and generally just act like assholes instead of cops. And one of the victims was surnamed Collins, so there’s something.
It’s also something that I was able to hear the name, because while the picture ain’t too bad for Mill Creek, the sound was pretty atrocious. Muffled throughout and poorly balanced to boot, I wasn’t sure if it was the fault of the Creek or the original source material. It’s also out of sync on several occasions, however, which leads me to suspect the latter. Either way, I’d be lying if I said the movie deserved better, but if you plan to watch it, be prepared to keep your finger on the volume button (I eventually just used headphones, which helped a bit).
Man, I’m four films into Pure Terror and I haven’t really been truly won over by any of them. By this time with the Chilling Classics set, I had seen the awesome Haunts and the delightful Horror Express (Cathy’s Curse was my 6th selection – I don’t expect to be as blown away with my 6th pick on this one). Hopefully there are a few gems on here, but as I’m picking the ones that actually SOUND like potential classics (well, not My Mom’s A Werewolf), I’m starting to lose hope.
What say you?