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Night Terrors (2014)

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    Travis Sheldon
    Senior Member

  • Night Terrors



    Released by:
    Camp Motion Pictures
    Released on: November 25, 2014
    Director: Alex Lukens, Jason Zink
    Cast: Richard Hackel, Colvin Mann, Alex Lukens, Alyssa Benner
    Year: 2014
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    The horror anthology, one of my favorite subsets of the horror genre. Trilogy of Terror, Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, Black Sabbath, Tales of Terror, and The House That Dripped Blood to name a few of my favorites. Recently we have seen titles such as ABC's of Death or V/H/S cause a renewed interest in anthologies. When done right, they can be a wondrous thing. But when done wrong, these films can never be unseen. Only forgotten.

    Night Terrors is an anthology consisting of 3 stories with a wraparound story that ties them all together. The tagline is "The Return of VHS Horror". There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie that states that they used an effect to give the video a "VHS tape" look, i.e. static, tracking lines, soft focus, etc...

    The wraparound story consists of an older sister who has been tasked with looking after her younger brother. The sister had been looking forward to going out, so when her brother can't sleep she proceeds to tell him some scary tales in the hope that he falls asleep.

    The first story is Massacre on 34th Street. This story starts with Johnny, who is a bellringer outside of a hardware store. Johnny is only here because of community service that he has to complete. He is waiting to leave so he can go to a punk rock party some of his friends are throwing. His friends are four punks who are squatting in an abandoned house adorned with wall to wall punk band flyers (Lots of great 70's and 80's era West Coast punk, too! My favorite.) and graffiti. It's Christmas time, so the hardware store is closing early. But before the manager can lock up, a person wearing a Santa Claus suit and mask comes in and stands before a tool display. Santa quickly picks an ax and makes upon his merry way. Of course he kills Johnny and the store manager before he leaves. Guess it's been a long year at the North Pole. Taking Johnny's car, and his head for some reason, Santa drives to the party that Johnny was originally going to attend. Johnny's friends wonder where he is since he is so late. One of them, Richie, decides to brave the cold and go down the street to use a neighbor's phone. On his way back to the house, Richie meets up with Santa and receives his Christmas gift, actually he gets an ax to his chest. Hearing Richie's scream his friends start looking for him and wind up getting knocked off in various ways. There's no explanation why Santa is a mass murderer or why he's, seemingly, impervious to pain. One of the things I learned from this film is all you need to make Christmas music is sleighbells.

    The second story is Baby Killer. Dr. Herbert Cain is a disgraced scientist who was fired for doing unethical experiments with stem cells. So, of course, the locals equate stem cells with baby killing. Did I mention Dr. Cain's daughter is dying from advanced stage Leukemia? Well, she is. In fact, she's staying in her room at home instead of a hospital. (This was before the Affordable Care Act, when you had to build a lab in your own basement to get medical help.) And that's why Dr. Cain is still working on his stem cell research in the basement with the aid of a Heisenberg lab starter kit, ink jet printer refill syringe, and a rat. Two policemen show up at the door of Dr. Cain's neighbor with questions. The neighbor is a pregnant woman whose husband has been recently deployed for service. The policemen ask questions about Dr. Cain and leave with little more knowledge than when they arrived. Dr. Cain starts to run low on supplies, so he returns to his former lab at the university to restock. The janitor hears him and confronts Dr. Cain. During this confrontation Cain throws a chemical into the janitor's face and kills him. He then takes the body back to his basement lab for experimentation. The police show up looking for the janitor, but Dr. Cain has hidden his body and the police leave without any evidence. (A trend with the same 2 policemen in this film.) Apparently the janitor couldn't supply Cain with what he needed, because next he shows up at a park and kidnaps a young child and takes him back to the lab. Cain eventually kills the child for making too much noise in the basement lab. Cain's failed experiments lead him to the revelation that he needs an infant to further his experiment. Dr. Cain goes next door to his pregnant neighbor's house. Of course his neighbor is already suspicious due to all the TV reports and the police warning about Dr. Cain. So, she calls the police when Cain comes by to visit. They arrive too late, as Cain has already performed his own special c-section on the lady, with what look like garden shears. Cain takes the baby back to the lab, but it's too late as his daughter is already dead. About this time the police show up and find the remains of the janitor, the kid from the park, and the baby. More bloodshed follows. Lots of gore in this chapter with janitor's face, an amputation, the garden shear c-section, and the baby bash. It felt like they were going for broke with this gore-filled story. This was the strongest story in terms of taboo with two child killings.

    The third story is entitled Abstinence. Jonah and Mouth are new to college life and are out on the town, when Jonah spots "the girl of his dreams", Mary Beth. But Jonah is a virgin and too shy to talk to the girl. So Mouth does his part to try to chat her up for his friend. She doesn't respond positively, so Jonah and Mouth go back to the dorm alone. They wake the next day and are late for lecture hall. During the talk, their classmate tells them about scoring with a stripper the night before. He even pulls up his shirt to show off the scratches on his back, and some pustules that look pretty gross. The next day starts the same as the previous with Jonah and Mouth waking up late for class. When they arrive at the hall, they notice it is sparsely attended. After class they see a long line at the clinic. Then they encounter a classmate who runs up and grabs Mouth's arm before falling to the ground and vomiting blood. This freaks Mouth out, so they return to the dorm so Mouth can smoke and relax. Jonah leaves for some food and sees a police officer shoot a shambling student through the head right outside his dorm. Turns out there is a virus going around campus that makes the students shamble after cops, or at least that's what I gathered. So Jonah returns to the dorm room to get Mouth so they can get the hell out of town. A sock filled with coins and a baseball bat are the best weapons they can grab before they head out. Mouth convinces Jonah to stop at a liquor store since they are always getting robbed and would surely have a gun there. Jonah's big plan is to hole up at the movie theater in the projection room. They run into Mary Beth at the liquor store and she joins them as they head to the theater. Things come to a head at the theater, as this 3rd tale wraps up. Some good practical effects in this one. I really hope I never get the nickname Mouth.

    The wraparound story ends on a neat note with something from each of the stories the sister has told coming back to haunt her.

    Each of the stories has varying degrees of gore, some worse than others. It did feel as if they were going for the Anthropophagus shock effect with the baby part in the 2nd story. But unless you have George Eastman acting in that role, it's not going to work out for you. The gore effects could have been better utilized had they used the "VHS tape" effect during those scenes instead of going for closeups.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The video is presented 16:9 Anamorphic with MPEG-2 encoding. The video is soft, at times, but that is the stylistic choice they made for the film. These films were likely made at the filmmakers' own homes and workplaces, so the set designs consist of pretty much whatever is on hand. That does not detract from any of the stories, though. When there are effects to show, they usually show them close up which is a negative to me. The digital picture, even though it has been softened with the "VHS tape" effect, still shows too much and lingers too long to make the practical effects work.

    Audio is Dolby Digital 2 Channel and is crisp and clear. In fact this is one of the strong points of the film. Music and dialog come through crisp and clean. Bands featured on the soundtrack include: The Gestalts, UGLYBoNES, and The Poison Control Center. Alec Biccum did the original music and did a great job with composing an atmoshperic soundscape.

    Extras include Outtakes. In these bits you can see the background footage from all of the segments of the film. Most of the footage looks like it was shot with a digital camera and is very crisp and clean.

    A trailer vault is also included with trailers for: Bacterium / Ground Zero / I Heart U / LizardMan / Splatter Beach / Suburban Nightmare

    The Final Word:

    I have a soft spot in my heart for amateur filmmaking. Having worked on a number of shoots, I can relate to what goes on behind the scenes with low/no budget productions. I also have a soft spot for the punk rock life. And you can tell that the filmmakers are punks by looking at the actors and some of the set design. All in all, this was a fun party flick and I feel the filmmakers had their heart in the right place.

























































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