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Terror Night (1987) October 26th, 2021

*SPOILERS*

In Terror Night (AKA Bloody Movie) a group of friends explore a abandoned Los Angeles mansion owned by the estate of Lance Hayward, a famous film star from the 1920s. A mysterious murderer stalks them throughout the night, using elaborate theatrics and costumes inspired by Haywards most famous films to slowly eliminate the hapless partiers. The final two characters (depicted on the poster) eventually trap and immolate the murderer in Hayward’s hidden vault packed with nitrate prints of his greatest movies.

Much like 1980’s thematically similar Fade to Black, Terror Night‘s gimmick is a murderer who kills while assuming the roles of famous film characters. The difference being the murderer is also the actor who played those characters on screen instead of a homicidal super-fan. Unfortunately, Terror Night fails to achieve a sliver of Fade to Black‘s modest achievements. Flat camera angles and flatter performances force me to choose Terror Night‘s editing as its best feature, with stunt casting coming in a close second.

Suddenly the film cuts to nondiegetic clips and poster images from a Lance Hayward film indicating the actor is about to commit murder disguised as a character from the movie clips we’re seeing. This element of Terror Night, more than the litany of other evidence, cements it as a creation in the style of Ed Wood. I would not be surprised to learn the filmmakers cobbled together a movie from stock footage scraps, backlot wardrobe dumpsters, and empty corporate locations before topping it off by casting B-Movie legends Dan Haggerty, Cameron Mitchell, Alan Hale Jr., and John Ireland as Lance Hayward rounding out a production narrowly qualifying as a ‘movie’.

Terror Night isn’t a movie I could recommend to anyone except those warped masochists looking to indulge in the rich cinematic schadenfreude of laughing at a bad movie. Do not gaze long into the abyss my friends.

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