Sunday, June 10, 2012

Midnight (1981)

**1/2(out of four stars)

John Russo needs no introduction. He's only the co-writer for one of the greatest horror films of our times, Night of the Living Dead. Aside from that he's an author and has made a few horror flicks after Night. 1981's Midnight is a film written and directed by Russo.

Nancy played by Melanie Verlin, runs away from her home after her step-father (Lawrence Tierney) tries (and fails) to seduce her.  After fleeing from the house, and bound for California to be with her sister, she's picked up by two thieves, Tom and Hank.  The trio are on their marry little way, until they come across a sadistic, murdering family of the satanic type.  Along the way, others are murdered in the typical slasher format. 

All slashers really need (besides a story of course) is great kills, some nudity and decent FX.  Midnight does offer up the goods.  The nudity aspect does lack.  Now, in all fairness, this film seems to borrow heavily from other films, namely The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  The approach Russo takes with his formula is standard, but does a good job of entertaining the audience.  I'm not saying that this film is the next greatest thing since sliced bread, but I am saying that the film doesn't deserve all the negative feedback that it usually gets. 

The acting isn't great.  After doing a little research, most of the cast is only credited with this film.  Most of the cast has only done this film.  Film buffs will recognize two face though.  Two that come to mind are Lawrence Tierney, who plays the despicable, molesting, step-father and John Amplas of Day of the Dead fame.  John Amplas plays Abraham, one of the members of the homicidal family.  There's one scene (probably my favorite) where he and his brother, Luke (Greg Besnak) are impersonating cops.  They corner the trio and it ends in some bloodshed.  However, this scene displays the best acting in the film. 

The film comes from the novel with the same name.  I have not read the novel, but would be interested in reading it since I do think John Russo is a better writer than he is a director.  I've read the novel version of Night of the Living Dead and thought it was a well written version of the great film. 

You won't find anything incredibly fresh with this film, however, if you like the slasher genre, you should really give this film a go.  Midnight is a low budget independent film from the 80's, a long time before just anyone could walk into best buy, buy a camera and go shoot something.  I feel that the cast and filmmakers involved really had their hearts in the right place.

Starring:  Melanie Verlin, Lawrence Tierney, John Amplas

Written and directed by:  John A. Russo

91 mins


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