to all a GOODNIGHT (1980)

Directed by David Hess
Intercontinental Worldwide Distributing Corporation/Four Features Partners

Utterly disjointed, this train wreck of a prototype slasher flick is somehow largely enjoyable, albeit mainly on dubious grounds. A gaggle of coeds and their imported beaux are being slaughtered for Some Reason by an Unknown Assailant – who the viewer knows is dressed as Santa Claus. The initial reveal is no surprise, but the SHOCKING twist that immediately follows is … actually fairly unexpected. Most of the killings are absurdly unconvincing, the gore as well, and trying to keep abreast of the film’s botched continuity is an ongoing challenge. (The distinct majority of the acting, meanwhile, is on par with the gore and the killings.) The “action” drags significantly as the conclusion nears, to boot. Still and all, fans of dreck should be delighted.

Why Did I Watch This Movie?

Well, it was Christmas week. (I’m a little behind.) I was pointed in this direction by The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies by Peter Normanton, but this is as good a place as any to point out that director Hess (of The Last House on the Left repute) also co-wrote and recorded a song called
“Speedy Gonzalez” (among other lesser creations).

Should You Watch This Movie?

Not if you persist in considering a lack of redeeming qualities a detriment.

Highlight and Low Point

The story holds that the original version of this picture available on VHS featured that time-honored pitfall of low-budget terror, scenes that are too dark to be able to discern what may or may not be occurring (such as in, say, Island of Blood, for just one pertinent example). That is not a problem in the Blu-ray release, which brandishes an unfettered “day for night” technique that doesn’t even bother with the pretense.

Rating From Outer Space: D+

Possum (2018)

directed by matthew holness
The FYZZ Facility/british film institute

About as bleak and humorless a film as you’d prefer to imagine, this trudge through the disordered mind of a miserable and tormented middle-aged Britisher will definitely affect you. I’m not much of an abstract thinker and I don’t do too well with symbolism unless it’s really obvious, but even if you’re similarly ill-inclined, that shouldn’t get in the way of your following what this picture is on about. Now, I occasionally bemoan productions in these pages for not being “scary,” which of course does a disservice to a great many movies made in differing horror styles, being far too reductive a criterion. This is a good old-fashioned horror, in that what’s so bothersome about it all comes from within – and I don’t mean viscera. It’s all inside this guy’s head, as it will be in yours. The flicks from the UK I’ve seen all seemingly have that heavily psychological bent, and it works just about every time.

why did i watch this movie?

It, uh, sounded good: “a disgraced children’s puppeteer is forced to confront the secrets,” etc. I like the tendencies in British films of this ilk, where it’s always gloomy.

should you watch this movie?

If you can relate to the journey to the end of the night, surely.

highlight and low point

As this film has minimal personnel, the acting had better be good, and it is. Sean Harris is frankly magnificent as Philip, his mental anguish playing itself out not only on his wretched visage but in his increasingly constrained carriage and the abnormal movements of his limbs. The skillful deployment of the film’s major prop, which is displayed on the poster, is also a major asset. At times I found some of the circular action a bit nettlesome, if cavil I must.  Oh, and the sound design is excellent.

rating from outer space: a−