Hell Night (1981): Movie Review

Hell Night
by Chris Wright, MoreHorror.com

A lesser known yet surprisingly good slasher from the prime of slasher films is “Hell Night.” This movie is the last movie to come from Compass International Pictures, which is best known for “Halloween” (1978). They also did some lesser known movies such as “Tourist Trap” (1979) and “Blood Beach” (1980) before closing up shop after “Hell Night.”

This flick slid by the slasher era in the 1980s but has developed a cult following as time progressed. Best known for her role in “The Exorcist”, Linda Blair is also a star in this movie. This movie was released by Charles Band’s Media Entertainment and Video Treasures in the 80s and re-released by Anchor Bay on DVD later on with commentary.

The plot is fairly simple. A fraternity is putting new recruits in an old mansion and trying to scare them. The goal is if they remain the whole night without leaving, then they are part of the fraternity. All is not that simple, as the mansion is occupied by a deformed man who lives underneath the house. Legend has it there have been numerous murders in Garth Manor and they use that legend to creep the soon to be frats out. Scott, May, and Peter have trapped the house with scares to try to coach them out of the house. The ones in the house are Marti (Linda Blair), Denise, Seth, and Jeff.

After a slow beginning, we see May outside the house and decapitated fairly quickly as she was trying to booby-trap the house. The people inside are primarily discovering what is going on. This movie follows the traditional slasher formula. All of the people outside are taken out first one by one and littered throughout the mansions property. Inside the house, there are some rather creepy suspenseful scenes. The killer is just standing in the room from an angle staring at Denise in her bed while she is sleeping and decides to murder her.

The plot takes us past Denise’s death after the others find Peter, Scott, and May’s bodies all around. The killer sneaks through the hidden sheets in a room and attacks Jeff and Marti. Jeff jabs the figure with a pitchfork and it falls through a trap floor. All of this is going on while Seth has already assailed the large fence in search of help even though nobody will listen. Inside the floor, they find bones and dead bodies before they find their way out trying to escape the madman. Seth eventually comes back after Jeff and Marti are in the house fearful to leave the house. Seth encounters the killer and is killed by a gunshot.

The final battle is between Marti and the killer after Jeff is impaled off the house onto the ground. Marti finds her way in to a car and tries to ram her way out of the caged fence surrounding the mountain not knowing the killer is on top of the car. She floors the car and the killer rammed through a spike from the fence. The movie ends simply with Marti walking off worn out from her car after sleeping.

This movie appears very realistic at times and is rather good for an unknown cult horror movie. I highly recommend it. It was fairly difficult to write this review to give it justice because there is so much going on. It’s a slasher film that slasher fans just have to see. The acting is about what you'd expect since it was sub par even from Linda Blair. The acting wasn't terrible though and didn't make the movie unbelievable.

The killer is brutal, fiendish, and never speaks. The atmosphere is perfect and the locale is great to project a fantastic horror setting. I wish they made horror movies like this again. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. It has a 5.4 on IMDB.

“Hell Night” (1981)

Directed by: Tom DeSimone

Written by: Randy Feldman

Starring: Linda Blair as Marti Gaines, Vincent Van Patten as Seth, Kevin Brophy as Peter Bennett, Jenny Neumann as May West, Suki Goodwin as Denise Dunsmore, Jimmy Sturtevant as Scott, Peter Barton as Jeff Reed

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