Blu-ray Review: Hell Night: Collector's Edition | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Hell Night: Collector’s Edition

Studio: Scream Factory

Jan 02, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s initiation night at the Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity, and four unfortunate pledges will have to spend the night at the haunted Garth Manor. Its last inhabitant went mad a decade earlier, murdering his family members – each one hideous deformed – before hanging himself. His youngest son, Andrew, is said to have survived, and still lurks the grounds of the abandoned mansion. Most people living in the campus town believe this to be an urban legend, but of course the four unwelcome houseguests (plus a few wannabe pranksters) are about to learn otherwise.

Hell Night arrived at a weird juncture in Linda Blair’s career. A 1977 arrest for involvement in a cocaine ring nearly ended the 18-year-old actress’ career – one that had included a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing a demon-possessed tween in The Exorcist. When the big studios stopped calling, Blair pivoted, and embraced her new life in b-movies. The 1979 disco jukebox musical Roller Boogie marked the turning point; 1981’s Hell Night followed. Marti, her demure, mechanically-inclined character in Hell Night, would be one of the few wholesome heroines she’d play in the 1980s. From here, it was straight into sleazier (but often entertaining) fare like the teenage vigilante flick Savage Streets, women-in-prison films Chained Heat and Red Heat, and the bizarre mess that was Savage Island, the combination of two Italian prison movies edited together with 15 minutes of new footage so that it would “star” Blair when it landed on American video store shelves.

This particular slasher set itself apart from the era’s deluge of them by being somewhat of a genre-mashup with an old school haunted house movie. The premise – spending an entire night trapped in a spooky manor – is so House on Haunted Hill that you practically expect Vincent Price to step out and reveal himself from behind a curtain. The Garth Family legend lends the movie a supernatural element, which is a nice change from the typical maniac with a knife. The fact that the characters are all dressed in old-fashioned clothes – because they arrived to the house from a frat house costume party – makes it look a bit like a Hammer film, the way that they’re photographed in dark, candle-lit hallways. Hell Night earns its cult slasher status.

Scream Factory’s special edition contains both a Blu-ray and DVD, and a long list of new bonus features. These include interviews the director, producer, and writer, and ones with Blair and much of the cast; a video breakdown of the movie’s death scenes; a feature on the location used as Garth Manor; a discussion of the movie’s Gothic design, a radio ad, audio commentary, and a gallery of stills.


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