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I saw this on The Movie Channel yesterday, and I really liked it. The
stories weren't great, but they were all entertaining, and I liked how the
frame story was more than people sitting around telling stories, and despite
the fact that the climax of the frame story was a little extreme (though,
quite creepy with that skeleton!) it's still a good horror
The film comes together with Allison (Jillian McWhirter) and Cheryl (Pamela Segall) starting college, and their first day of a class on the psychology of fear. After their professor (Ramy Zeda) goes too far with one lesson (scaring a macho frat guy to the point of wetting himself), he is forced to tone his class down, but opts for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of what he's teaching to come to his house the next night for a private lesson. A handful of students show up, including Allison and Cheryl, yet Allison has a bad feeling about it all (well, we haven't heard that one before!) and almost seems to be a bit psychic about it. (Believe me, it gets old quick.) Yet, that night, as a few students take turns telling stories to scare each other, the angry frat guy decides to get his revenge, and closes in on the party, as each story is told.
There are three stories told:
1: "The Old Dark House"- This one was really clever. It starts off and gets going with what seems like every cliche in hand. A couple takes the scenic route home, pass an old mansion where murders were committed, get a flat tire, and decide to go up to the house to call a tow-truck. We've seen all that before. But then, towards the end, the story takes a really creative twist that ties it all together perfectly, and actually proves to be a genuine surprise and thrill.
2: "A Night on the Town"- This one was a little thin, and could have used a few twists, yet it didn't surprise you like it should have, which would have helped the flimsy plot. Four girls looking for some fun (one of which, Amy, I knew I recognized, and finally realized was the teenage girl in "Mr. Belvedere"!) and end up in the warehouse district of town with little gas. They stop at a gas station, and meet the gas station attendant from hell and his dobermans, which all proceed to terrorize the girls in a sometimes tense, sometimes cheesy chase through the wrong part of town. This one was not as good as the others, but still entertaining.
3: "All Night Messenger"-This one was pretty good, though a little typical. A woman, Alex, who works for a telephone messenger service (I didn't get it, maybe this is pre-answering machine employment) comes home early from a ski trip with a broken ankle (hmm, will she have to run at some point?) and takes the late shift that night. She begins getting calls from a creepy caller for one woman, and when the woman comes home and calls for her messages, Alex tries to warn her before it's too late. Of course, the caller eventually catches on, and makes his move, and you can sort of see where it all goes from there. Though, this one was pretty good, and the ending was creepy.
The frame story eventually wraps up in this very bizarre climax that makes little sense at times, but it's still creepy. And to wrap all that up, the movie does the only thing that might make some sense, but will surely make you groan with annoyance.
Overall, I liked this. The main and end title music was creepy, and the whole atmosphere of the movie was that 80s horror movie feel that just sort of makes everything entertaining, and tolerably cheesy. The acting is all fairly typical. Jillian McWhirter sort of got on my nerves with all her damn premonitions, and she always looked really creepy, almost drugged. Ramy Zeda was a bit over the top, but creepy. I thought Pamela Segall was likeable, though, except, what was going on with her and the ending? (You'll know what I mean if or when you see this, and if you have, tell me what was going on.) All the other actors were forgettable, and basically playing the roles expected of them in a movie like this.
I recommend watching this if you get a chance. It moves quickly, and is really entertaining.
This is a great horror movie! For those people who don't favor gore so much but are more interested in hearing scary stories on a rainy night, you'll love it. If you like this movie, be sure to check out Rod Serling's "Night Gallery". Last but, not least, you get to check out that hunk, Ramy Zada.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, it's cliched (a couple stopping at a "haunted house", girls on the run,
a crank caller) but still, it works. And I think it tried to be creative and
original when it could. For instance, the Haunted House story ended with a
nice twist which I honestly didn't see coming. And I liked how all the
stories are sort of tied together near the end when the Allison character is
running through the various scenes from the stories (she runs through the
Haunted House which was part of the first story, she runs through the
gasoline-barrel Warehouse of the second story, and she runs through the
Flickering Hallway of the third story). I had never seen a horror movie do
that before, and it was refreshing in its own way and added tension and a
sense of uneasiness.
The movie also made some valid points about Fear--how there's a correlation between fear and knowing that a scary situation CAN occur; the more possible and plausible a situation is, the more you're likely to be afraid of it. And each of the stories presented works because they're all plausible and possible.
Of all the stories, my personal favorite is the 4 Girls in jeopardy. Granted, it's probably the least original and ingenious of all the stories, but it worked especially well for me because of my own fear of dogs. I also liked this story the best for a more shallow reason: all 4 of the girls are very easy on the eyes. ESPECIALLY the one playing Jennifer. And I agree with the comment below that the actress playing Kelly is a dead-ringer for Renee Zellweger. I even thought she WAS Renee in an early role. But the actress is Penelope Sudrow--no relation at all to Zellweger. Plus, I liked how all 4 of the girls prove to be resourceful when the chips are down; usually in horror movies, girls are helpless, passive victims; but these girls--especially Lisa and Kelly--emerge as heroes (or rather, heroines), coming up with a brave and clever way to thwart the dogs' Master and then the dogs themselves.
I guess I also have a soft spot for this movie because I first saw it back in '91 on a lonely, boring summer night and it rescued me with 90 minutes of genuine entertainment and even a handful of genuine scares. Sometimes that's all you need.
"After Midnight" offers interesting tales that remind me of another
80's slasher flicks such as "April Fool's Day" (the first tale), and
"Girls Night Out" (the second tale).
People inside a house narrate these tales while a prowler lurks outside the place.
Anyways, the first story is pretty interesting and has a chilling climax. I didn't see that coming!. In the style of "April Fool's Day" but in this case something went wrong. The second tale is less interesting but has more action involving flesh eating dogs chasing the girls. It is thrilling and has a decent conclusion. The third one is absolutely thrilling and nerve tensing involving a psychopath.
I watched it on TNT a few years ago so my advice would be , look for this popular Anthology. You might be suprirsed to see how many people ask for the movie's title on the Horror board. It has generated a somewhat cult status.
A reasonably successful horror anthology, a sub-genre that's always
been one of my favourites. In this one, college students Jillian
McWhirter and Pamela Segall join a 'psychology of fear' class run by
sinister professor Ramy Zada, who invites the class to his house to
tell stories of the 'it could happen to you' variety.
'The Old Dark House' begins when Marc McClure and Nadine Van Der Velde break down outside a spooky mansion and debate whether or not to go in and use the phone. Nothing groundbreaking here, but the ending's pretty dark.
Then 'A Night on the Town' has friends Tracy Wells, Judie Aronson, Penelope Sudrow and Monique Salcido terrorised by Luis Contreras and his pack of vicious dogs when their car, hey, breaks down in a rough neighbourhood. It's not scary, but it is unsettling. Shame about the repetitious set-up.
'All Night Operator' sees Marg Helgenberger manning answering service phones all alone when a nuisance call turns nasty. This is the best segment despite being a bit dull.
So it works well enough without being special in any way at all.
Not the best horror anthology in the world it is interesting in one aspect...using a class in fear be the set up for the stories. Basically, a professor with a very unorthodox way of teaching has to invite those willing to a special story telling event at his house or something. Been awhile since I saw this one, so I am not all that clear about the details. They mainly have to go to his house thanks to a very shaky first day of class where the professor proceeds to show everyone how nuts he is. Well they go and exchange stories, the first one being about a couple stranded near an old house that looks typical, but has the best ending of the three stories presented. The next story has these girls getting stranded in the wrong part of town and being terrorized by a guy and his Doberman. Granted, nothing really special about it overall, but it did make for the most tense story of the three and my favorite. The final one for the most part is highly forgettable to say the least. I only remember a woman who has some sort of answering service and there was no being stranded involved here, though the female did have a bum ankle. Then the movie wraps up in a somewhat interesting and somewhat absurd fashion. Not the best, but it is entertaining enough to pass the time quite nicely.
Although the stories in this Horror anthology are weak, the film manages to engage the mind throughout. The framing device used is that of a professor teaching the psychology of fear who humiliates a student during a lesson. Because of this, the wilder excesses of the teachers lessons can only be taught out of class at his home. Students relate scary tales during one such session most of which are interesting but have seriously flawed logic. Marg Helgenberger excels as the telephone service operator taking calls from a crazed stalker. The best story is the first in which a practical joke seriously misfires. The ending is surreal but is based on a hackneyed idea. The original music by Marc Donohue is excellent, especially that over the opening credits.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anthology fright flicks experienced a brief, but welcome resurgence in
the mid 80's up until the early 90's, as evidenced by the lovably
chintzy "Creepshow 2," the genuinely disturbing "The Offspring," the
wonderfully offbeat horror-Western favorite "Grim Prairie Tales," the
enthusiastically gruesome indie effort "Campfire Tales," and this
A creepy college professor (a very intense Ramy Zada) and several of his students (which include "Pumpkinhead" victim Kerry Remsen, who meets a similar ill fate here) tell each other a trio of urban legend-style terror tales throughout the course of your standard dark and stormy evening. First and most ironic vignette, "The Old Dark House" - Young married couple Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen in the "Superman" movies) and Nadine ("Critters") Van Der Velde are forced to spend a night in a spooky, rundown old mansion after their car breaks down. Second and most unintentionally sidesplitting story, "A Night on the Town" - A quartet of screaming, vacuous, wholly deserving bimbettes ("American Ninja" 's Judi Aronson among 'em) are terrorized by a demented homeless lunatic (outrageously overplayed to the sneering fruitbag hilt by the late, great Luis Contreras, who portrayed nasty Hispanic villains in such action items as "Stand Alone," "Extreme Prejudice," "Walking the Edge," and "Dollman") and his pack of vicious wild dogs. Third and best yarn, "All Night Operator" - This taut, gripping little corker features a bang-up performance by the ever-lovely and personable Marg Helgenberger as Alex, a sexy, resourceful receptionist who receives menacing phone calls from and, naturally, eventually gets stalked by some homicidal madman (a finely flipped-out freako turn by Alan Rosenberg).
Writers/directors Jim and Ken Wheat, who previously made the excellent, underrated Hitchcockian suspense thriller pip "Lies" and penned such goodies as the solid slasher picture "Silent Scream" and the fantastic sci-fi/horror knockout "Pitch Black," do a typically up to snuff job with this extremely fun, sometimes thrilling and always entertaining omnibus affair: the brisk, steady pace never falters for a minute, the acting is uniformly good, a suitably eerie atmosphere pervades throughout, each anecdote leads to a reasonably frightening conclusion (the climax to the first tale is especially effective), and the wacky, nightmarish final may be pretty silly, but it still works in a goofily over-the-top hokey carnival funhouse sort of way. Sure, it's no trend-setting, genre-bending innovative masterpiece, but "After Midnight" nonetheless doesn't deserve its current obscure status and certainly makes for a nice, perfectly pleasing late night with the lights out and the shades drawn horror movie viewing experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the vein of stuff like Creepshow and the like comes a movie about a
strange college professor (Ramy Zada), who attempts to provide to his
students the most intimate understanding of fear by scaring them as
much as he can.
So they go to his house and tell typical urban legends complete with women in distress, creepy phone calls, empty gas stations, and yes, a flat tire in front of a scary mansion. Well, it started all right.
The three stories are overarched by the story of the students in the professor's house, one that has its own sort of horror conceits coming in towards the end. In typical 80s b-movie bonanza, it's just a dream. So honestly, if you're looking for something--I don't know--compelling? you won't find it here. This is just something to have around for, like, television fright night specials or Halloween ghoulies for preteens.
Which is too bad, because the beginning of this movie points out something very important, something that I wish horror film makers would realize to a stronger degree and utilize correctly: fear is a profound psychological effect, and in a way, it's important to feel strong levels of fear to understand yourself more, how you function and who you are. Too bad horror movies then just throw all that stuff away for cheap skeleton effects, bugs, and cat-out-of-the-bag gags.
Perturbed by the teacher in their psychology class, eventually he's
forced to change his curriculum, and when he offers a special after-
hours seminar that contains his original plans, students join at his
house to indulge in telling scary stories to experience fear.
The Good Stor(ies): The Old Dark House-On their anniversary, a couple go for a midnight drive and get stranded on an abandoned road containing a house with a mysterious past. Eager for help, they ignore the warnings and go over, but when no one answers, they attempt to break in and get separated, forcing him to accept a deadly secret about the house's history. This here is a rather enjoyable entry, with a lot going for it. The atmosphere of the house, with the abandoned, sheet-covered furniture and shrubbery-lined walkways outside, give off a perfect Gothic atmospheric feel, combined with the back-story told to create a rather creepy setting. The mystery, with the bloodied necklace and off-screen call, works nicely with the key set-up scene, the collection of skulls covered in spiders and bugs as well as the flashlight-through-the- keyhole sequence, and then the final resolution is quite nice as it's a neat twist. If there was a flaw, it's not the fastest-moving story, but it's still enjoyable.
A Night on the Town-Trying to find a club, a group of friends drive around the city, and when they're low on gas, stop off at a gas station. When they meet the proprietor and his vicious dogs, they find themselves in an escalating series of encounters that makes them wish they hadn't stumbled upon. This is a slightly uneven effort, hampered really by the fact that there isn't a real effort to develop this one early on and simply making it run on the situation. They're lost in a strange part of town, the man they run into is somewhat slimy and perverted, but it never really does anything really interesting with those areas. Once it shifts into action, though, it's a lot more interesting and exciting from the different ambush attacks of the dogs through the town, to the deranged owner's extreme attempts to break into the car while it's on the run, this one is a lot of fun with its action set-ups and is an extremely better entry in the second half. Throw in an explosive finale, and it's a really redeeming effort.
Allison's Story-Arriving at their professor's house, the students proceed to tell their stories but one of them becomes concerned something is wrong. As the night continues, she begins to think those feelings are getting even stronger, and they eventually find the real reason why the events have been happening all night long. As the wrap- around, the main parts before the ending are just minor set-up pieces where the real fun is in the finale, which is a lot of fun. After the main stories, the ambush in the basement, complete with the flowing circle and eventual fire-filled room and slaughter, makes for a good time, and the interweaving with the stories told allows for a nightmarish feel in the manner done. It just takes a while to get there since that is the movie's logical end.
The Bad Stor(ies): All Night Operator-Returning to her apartment, a phone-line operator wants to forget about the ski accident that injured her and goes to work at a phone-call answering service. After getting several harassing phone calls from a deranged lunatic, she starts to realize that the caller is a little more unhinged than he let on, and thinking he's coming after her, she tries to defend herself. This here is the lone weak-link among the stories, simply through the exploits of two factors built into the main plot. This here has a one-note story that never really gives it a chance to go anywhere without a twist that is extremely illogical and unneeded, so it lumbers on mainly hitting all the expected notes until it's expected climax, driving out much of the suspense out of the premise. The other factor is the trapped-in-one- location nature, never allowing for there to be any suspense built up over the killer gradually coming closer to here, which combines with the first factor to lower it heavily. The finale chase through the building, with some clever hiding tactics and a couple suspenseful moments with her injury, is rather good, but it's too little too late.
Rated R: Violence and Language.
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