As I was looking for some new Christmas horror, the Internet pointed me to a movie called Night Terrors. I watched the trailer, got an 80s shot-to-video vibe, saw a killer Santa, and went for it with no expectations.
But after seeing it, I have to say, this film deserves a major cult following. For starters, the tagline on the cover of the DVD says “The return of VHS horror.” That is no joke. I felt like it was 1984 again and I had picked up some obscure tape with an intriguing box from the video store. The look, the feel, the music—the lack of cellphones in the movie—they nailed it. This is how you do a retro horror film.
Not to mention, there’s a notice at the beginning of the movie informing viewers that the “defects” in the film are intentional. If you know what a tracking button is then you know what to expect from the effect added to the film occasionally to give it that VHS vibe. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the fuzzy effects were intentionally placed during the best parts—because that’s usually when those fricking tracking issues would kick in!
“Tracking issues” are just the beginning of the old school experience Night Terrors has to offer. The three stories in this anthology film are each totally different in tone and the wraparound features a chick telling her little brother scary stories before he goes to bed.
While I just assumed the entire movie was a Christmas horror film based on the DVD artwork, only the first story is. “Massacre on 34th Street” has a guy with an axe, in a Santa suit, wearing a creepy Santa mask. He targets a home of young squatters who look like they could break into a chorus of “Seasons of Love” from Rent at any second. The atmosphere is enhanced by what looks like real snow and real winter cold.
On top of that, you get gory kills, puke, body reveals, and a Santa that just won’t seem to die. Plus, if you’ve ever seen the killer Santa story from Tales from the Crypt, this short seems to pay homage to it.
The second story, “Baby Killer,” is about a man trying to find a cure for his daughter’s cancer. Watching him keeping audio notes as his experiments on lab animals in his basement continue to fail, I feared this story was going to blow.
But then come the human Guinea pigs. “Baby Killer” goes there. Be warned. It goes into seriously disturbing territory and is hard to watch by the end (in a good way). It really (hopefully) makes you feel icky.
Holy crap the last story fucking rules!!! “Abstinence” combines horror comedy, body horror, and infected horror and could easily be stretched out to a full-length film, especially because the two main college dudes are great lovable characters who play off each other perfectly.
They start off just hoping to get laid but soon discover they’re better off not having gotten laid because all the other kids on campus are getting gnarly sick. Even though it doesn’t throw hordes of infected/zombies at us, “Abstinence” manages to capture the bad spreading virus feeling of longer movies, delivers plenty of dry humor at the same time, and goes for a few awesomely over-the-top sexual gross out moments. Like SERIOUS full-on genital nastiness.
The cherry on top of Night Terrors is the quick but damn creepy conclusion of the wraparound. Fricking awesome. This is the first film for Alex Lukens and Jason Zink, who wrote and directed it as a team. It better get some fucking attention so they’ll continue making horror flicks.
Not to mention, these guys succeeded in making a film full of college boys and sex humor without any anti-gay language or sentiments being tossed around. In fact, if you dig around the DVD, not only will you see a whole lot of outtakes loaded with cute guys (for instance, my hubby walked into the room and was immediately drawn to the clapboard boy), but you’ll see a behind-the-scenes lip-lock of two furry bears…
and another bear taking a load to the face like a pro!
Also, try to draw your eyes away from clapboard boy long enough to read the various messages on his board each time he appears on screen.
Believe me. The stills don’t even do these moments justice. So go buy the damn DVD and watch every last second of it.