Director: Allen Plone
Starring: Joseph Paul Manno, Ron Thomas, Randy Lundsford
A football star throws a party for his friends. Two insane killers escape from a nearby asylum on that same night, and in their efforts to elude authorities, wind up at the party.
I continue with “Project Terrible” – this time with a movie recommended by Maynard Morrissey and this is a movie that certainly lives up to the promise of being terrible.
There are lots of things that can make a movie “terrible.” Whether it be the performances, the camera work, the writing, the direction… anything. In this case it’s the writing, specifically the dialogue, that makes Night Screams so damn terrible. What follows are a few key lines to describe the movie and how the dialogue simply destroys any potential this movie even hoped to have.
Also this is one of those movies where I decided to take my own screenshots. Once I get started with that “Take Screenshot” button I just can’t stop and then I simply HAVE to use all those pics in the review… so it’s gonna be a long one.
“Honey, Stop That”
First off the best dialogue from this movie isn’t even a part of the movie – it’s from Graduation Day. A couple is sitting together on the couch watching a television broadcast of Graduation Day so the first five minutes or so of the movie were entire scenes of Graduation Day mixed with shots of these two fugly people on a coach saying things like “Hey, you need more coffe?” “No.. I’m good.” “I’m gonna go check on the grill.” Given the nature of the genre you know that this is the prologue murder – that this absolutely boring couple is going to die but I had trouble separating scenes of Night Screams away of scenes of Graduation Day.
So the guy goes to get some hamburgers and the killer FINALLY strikes, stabbing the girl in a weak scene. When the boyfriend arrives to see his dead girlfriend, he says her name, Beth, and then checks on her – only he pronounces it: “Beff? Beff? R U K?” He dials 911, tells the police that he’s needs to report a murder, as the killer stalks up on him he says “Honey, stop that,” before being murdered. “Honey, stop that?” Was.. was he talking to the dead girlfriend, the one that he made sure was dead? Was he asking her to stop being dead. It’s not his girlfriend that came back and killed him – this is a slasher movie, after all, not a zombie flick. Anyway, the killer then just plays chopsticks on the piano with his bloody hands for no other reason than because he can. Also he misses a note in the song – that kinda got on my nerves.
“Fuckin’ A. Party Time.”
Holy crap! Three patients escaped from a mental institution! You know what that means, right? A bloodbath will ensue. It would seen the only people that escape from mental institutions are the ones that want to callously kill dozens of people. No, we never get the person who needs constant care lest the wander into traffic and get hit by a car – no the only people that escape are those who are a dangers to others and never the ones who are a danger to themselves. Anyway, we’ve got these three guys at a cafe just slaughtering everybody – cops, customers, the old man behind the register who dares suggest these fellows aren’t all right in the head. They are WAY too into it though – each line they speak is so over-the-top and unbelievable that it’s hard to get into the scene. These aren’t crazy people – these are just three really normal dudes pretending to be the crazy characters they’ve seen in movies… I’m not buying it. One guy sets a cop on fire, blasts him away with a shotgun and then shouts “Fuckin A! Party time!” – not with the crazy smile of a truly insane individual but with the gleeful joy of an amateur actor thinking “this is the most fun I’ve had in a role… ever!”
The effects are actually not bad – nice practical effects with plenty of fun-tastic gore, but it’s all spoiled by the performances. The scene itself has a lot of inherent suspense – excitement that immediately turns into laughter the second a character opens their mouth and utters some hammy line. So THESE are the killers were supposed to be afraid of? Can I turn this movie off now?
“The end of your nose is the exact same shape as your penis.”
Since this is a slasher movie our main protagonists are high school kids – high school students that all look to be in theirs 20s and 30s but that’s a fit description of every slasher movie ever (maybe with the exception of Sleepaway Camp). In this case all of the characters are either football players or cheerleaders. Just ONE character archetype present here… in bulk. No shy nerd, no dweeby looking girl, no innocent virgin girl, no tough-but caring guy – they are the same jock and the same cheerleader with different faces. We get all of the “get to know you” exposition as we see the characters in the locker room – because if there is any way you would like to meet the people you’ll be spending the next 90 minutes with it would be to see them all naked and cracking jokes about their genitals.
What jokes about their genitals you might ask? Well we’ve got the quarterback superhero David who suddenly now has a full scholarship to Oklahoma State University after one game. For some reason this depresses him – so his best friend DB decides to tell him that “Did you know that the end of your nose is the exact same shape as your penis?” DB tells this to another guy to – DB: Let me look at your nose.
DB: Ah, just what I thought. Now I know what your penis looks like.
And they all have a good laugh. I spent a long while looking at my nose in the mirror to realize that these people are stupid. A nose and a penis look nothing alike. I know this is a really petty thing to spend so long on in this review but it really irked me. Also they bring it up MANY more times. There’s even a half-assed love scene completely spoiled when this girl says “Aww, your dick looks just like the tip of your nose.” Our main characters are men who do not know what a penis looks like. Also – they randomly dance bad in the school parking lot.
“The World Famous Starlight Dancers”
So we’ve got a typical set-up for a slasher movie. There’s some horny teenagers eager to party and have the perquisite teenage sex. We’ve got a pair of escaped mental patients. The crazies have happened to hole up in what they thought was an abandoned house – turns out that it’s David’s house where these kids are on their way to have their party. Sounds like it could be a good story. However, the teens decide to stop by a bar and get their drinking in early and we get, of all the goddamn things to throw at the audience for a slasher number, A MUSICAL NUMBER!
We’ve got these teens just sitting around talking about their random bullshit – the football game, college, penises, etc – and suddenly some guy says “And now presenting the world famous Starlight dancers.” The band starts playing a bad 80’s synth-rock song for which the lyrics are “Chill out” repeated ad naseum while a group of girls in their sparkly unitards dance. We see the whole song and it serves no purpose whatsoever. The story has barely even started – 30 minutes in we’re still dicking around with character introductions and suddenly we break for a goddamn musical number?! This isn’t Hello Dolly! for fuck’s sake – it’s a cheap 80s slasher called Night Screams! That means you don’t put in a musical number!
“What’s the matter? Forget to take your medicine?”
David’s got some problems. He’s got a full football scholarship to Oklahoma State University (oh, the tragedy!), every cheerleader wants to have sex with him (the poor, poor guy), his parents are gone for the weekend and he’s got some sort of unspecified mental condition that he’s got to take medication for. All of this stress is getting to him and David keeps getting this pounding headaches where he keeps hearing voices in his head, taunting him “Oh David, congratulations on winning the game!” “Good job David!” “Wow, a Full Scholarship to a state university!” “David, I want to have sex with you.” Really, David is the only person in the world that is haunted by the horrors of positive reinforcements and compliments. He’s having one of these “Oh no, I’m so loved and respected!” moments when his girlfriend senses something amiss and asks him “What’s the matter? Forget to take your medicine?
Kids start getting murdered one-by-one and I guess we’re supposed to think it’s David? I mean the psycho killers hiding in the house haven’t made themselves known yet – and they’re not the kind to just hide out passively when they could wet their hands in the blood of so many innocents. In fact one of the killers has a monologue about that – something about innocent sacrifices to their dark lord. Though I am still wondering who the fuck killed that couple in the prologue. That was before the psychos escaped from the asylum and long before we were introduced to David – and NOBODY has talked about that couple either. No “Hey, did you hear about whatever their names were?” or “I wonder why they didn’t make it to the game.”
“You shouldn’t have killed her. She was pretty.”
We get to a point where I lose any idea of whatever the FUCK is going on. The psychos are still hanging out in the basement rambling about nonsense. One keeps asking the other “Are you happy, Runner?” “Listen to me, Runner,” as if he’s playing out some sort of weird Logan’s Run fantasy. A girl wanders down into the basement and the psychos kill her, immediately regretting it with “You shouldn’t have killed her, she was pretty.” Immediately followed, of course, by more of that “runner” bullshit. So I start to assume that maybe these two psychos aren’t the ones killing everyone?
So is it David? He’s having some sort of mental breakdown – going into the bathroom and listening to the flashbacks in his head. Turns out his mom didn’t fill the prescription for his anti-crazy pills like she thought – so it very well could be that David has snapped. However when we see the killer from time to time it’s someone wearing VERY different clothes from David. Also, David would have to be stopping time and teleporting in order to be attending the party how he is and mass murdering his friends at the same time.
On top of this, David’s friend DB is dancing to the worst 80s soundtrack I’ve ever seen – AND HE NEVER STOPS! He’s the last victim when I kept wishing for him to be the first because I couldn’t stand his taste in music.
“I’m not crazy!”
So now it’s time to start wrapping things off. One psycho kills the other and then David kills the remaining ones in self defense. When David sees his best friend die we find out that the killer has all along been his girlfriend Joni. SHE’S the crazy one. She doesn’t like any of David’s friends and is paranoid that everyone was trying to keep them apart – even her parents (who I’m guessing were the couple that died at the start of the film). There’s this dumb ass dialogue.
Joni: People think I’m crazy.
David: You are crazy
Joni: I’M NOT CRAZY!!!
She decides that David is one “of them” and tries to kill him just as the cops show up in time to finish the job for her. Then we smash cut to David’s parents APOLOGIZING to Joni about their son’s actions. “He was on medication for hyperactivity. He had a temper.” NO GRIEF at all from the parents, by the way. Their son was just shot to death in a bloodbath that happened in their house – presumably because Mom forgot to fill the prescription for their dead son’s medication. Instead of saying “Oh Holy Shit!” and becoming inconsolable messes of trauma – they shrug it off and tell Joni, basically, these things happen.
Night Screams is one of the worst slasher movies I’ve ever seen. The kills are weak and ineffective – when we DO get kills. Most of the movie is David starring at himself in the mirror, psychotic characters that go nowhere and serve NO purpose to the plot., and dance numbers… FUCKING DANCE NUMBERS! That world famous Starlight Dancers and then just DB dancing shirtless to awful 80s synth-rock. It’s like that Crispin Glover dance sequence in Friday the 13th Part 4 only with less clothes and shitter music and on loop. I’m hoping that none of the other films I have to look forward to with Project Terrible are this poor.