6.4/10
1,651
44 user 38 critic

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)

Night Warning (original title)
An orphaned teenager finds himself being dominated by his aunt who's hell-bent on keeping him with her...at all costs.

Director:

William Asher

Writers:

Steve Breimer (screenplay) (as Stephen Breimer), Alan Jay Glueckman (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Director: Jeff Lieberman
Stars: George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Chris Lemmon
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jimmy McNichol ... Billy Lynch
Susan Tyrrell ... Cheryl Roberts
Bo Svenson ... Detective Joe Carlson
Marcia Lewis Marcia Lewis ... Margie
Julia Duffy ... Julie Linden
Britt Leach ... Sergeant Cook
Steve Eastin ... Tom Landers
Caskey Swaim Caskey Swaim ... Phil Brody
Cooper Neal Cooper Neal ... Frank
Bill Paxton ... Eddie (as William Paxton)
Kay Kimler ... Anna Lynch
Gary Baxley Gary Baxley ... Bill Lynch, Sr.
Vickie Oleson Vickie Oleson ... Lady Police Officer
Clemente Anchondo Clemente Anchondo ... Jail Arrestee
Alex Baker Alex Baker ... Police Officer Westcott
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Storyline

Seventeen year old high school senior Billy Lynch was raised by his maternal aunt, Cheryl Roberts, with who he has lived since the age of three, when his parents died in a tragic accident. As never married Aunt Cheryl has not dated over that time, it has been only her and Billy in the big, old house next to the woods. Billy hopes to get a basketball scholarship to the University of Denver, where his girlfriend of one year, Julie Linden, will be attending. Aunt Cheryl, in her possessiveness of Billy, doesn't let Julie into the house and doesn't want Billy to go away to college. What those around her don't know is that Cheryl is deranged and will do whatever it takes to keep Billy all to herself. What Billy also does not know is that there is an unknown third in his and Aunt Cheryl's relationship, that third who is either the cause of or has exacerbated her derangement. Aunt Cheryl's actions lead to Billy being implicated in a murder, Billy's plea of innocence which is not helped by the... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She was lonely. He was all she had. No-one would take him from her - and live... See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

February 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Thrilled to Death See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jan de Bont worked as cinematographer on this film for one week - he shot the decapitation-scene. See more »

Goofs

During the accident at the beginning of the film, it becomes apparent that there is no one in the drivers seat or in the passenger seat in certain shots especially when the car is falling off the cliff. See more »

Quotes

Cheryl Roberts: Perverts and sluts! They are doing everything they can to take him away from us.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Confessions of a Horror Baby: Night Warning (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Little Boy Billy
Words and Music by Joyce Bulifant
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Repression, oppression, and family trauma under horror's most popular guise
22 January 2015 | by drownnnsodaSee all my reviews

The first word that comes to mind when describing "Night Warning" is "sophisticated"—a word I'm using loosely, though this low budget '80s shocker is definitely a cut above most. Susan Tyrrell stars as an overbearing aunt to a teenager, Billy (Jimmy McNichol), whose parents died when he was a child. As Billy nears adulthood, Billy's aunt becomes increasingly neurotic; enough to the point that she stabs a repairman to death in their house when he refuses her sexual advances. Enter a bigoted police detective who believes Billy was responsible for the murder by way of a gay love triangle between the repairman and his basketball coach, and what ensues is nothing short of mayhem.

Unusual in thematic content and character makeup, "Night Warning" (also known as "Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker") is an apt horror-thriller that is probably ten times better than one would expect. Directed by William Asher, a veteran most known for his direction of TV classics such as "I Love Lucy" and "Bewitched," the film has a superior edge over most of its peers in both content and execution.

Solid direction and atmosphere are abundant, while the performances really bring the script to life. Susan Tyrrell is fantastic as the overbearing, sexually-repressed aunt, and Jimmy McNicol plays the "normal teenager" impressively. Bo Svenson is appropriately repugnant as the homophobic and misguided police detective.

Aside from the classy direction, the script is also incredibly interesting in thematics; it's essentially a modern twist on Oedipus Rex, and the execution is fantastic. It's also extremely unusual (and pioneering) for its incorporation of a sympathetic, non-archetypical gay character maligned by circumstances and social bigotry. For 1982, it's definitely far from the standard— daring, in fact— and this alone makes the film a curious and unusual piece of eighties celluloid. That, and, who can't love Susan Tyrrell going on a stark-raving-mad murder spree?

Overall, "Night Warning" is a classy and well-executed horror film-cum-twisted family drama. Asher's direction is great, the special effects are on par, and the performances are glorious, both the understated and the outrageous. Of the slew of horror films from this era, "Night Warning" is an honest depiction of familial trauma, unwavering violence, and social oppression. It juggles its thematics with flair and moodiness, all while maintaining the impressions of a horror picture. Watch for: an early performance from Bill Paxton, and one of the greatest car crash sequences I've ever seen. 9/10.


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