Thursday, February 19, 2009


Directed by Jack Messitt

Here we go again folks! It's the return of the "one copy on the shelf at Blockbuster" horror movie review, courtesy of The Big Toe Blog! Every time I rent one of these I can't help but think I could make a horror film. All you need is a story, and apparently it doesn't have to be a very good one. Today's technology and cameras make even the lowest budget film seem larger than life. After seeing Midnight Movie, I am convinced that I need to make a movie . . . and make it good. Then maybe I can have the coveted reward of being the only copy on the new release shelf. If the Gingerdead Man can happen (and get sequel treatment), anything is possible . . .

Anyway Midnight Movie starts off with a hospital scene massacre that reminded me of the My Bloody Valentine remake opening scene, reviewed a few weeks back in the blog. An old looney gets put in a room to watch "his film," and be observed behind glass. The doctors leave him unattended (wow, big surprise) and he starts taking huge bites of flesh out of his arms while the movie plays, eventually sending him on a killing spree.

Fast forward 5 years to a small suburban town that is playing the cult classic in a local theater. We learn that the old loon was in fact the director and star of the film, and local police think he might show up for the viewing, even though he is rumored to be dead blah blah blah (the usual back from the dead story). Enter the teeny bopper theater employees - the young girl who is in charge, the bubble gum chewing slut, and the nerdy guy who just wants to run the show for awhile. Then of course we have the grey haired detective who is hoping the killer will show up, and my favorite character - the fat biker dude who gets head from his girlfriend while watching the movie and tells all the kids to shut up. And a group of friends double dating. No real surprises here as far as the cast goes - just a bunch of lifeless goons I didn't mind seeing slaughtered.

The real surprise is just how terrible the overall concept is. Now it might have been cool if the killer showed up and trapped everyone in the theater and picked them off one by one. But no, that would be too simple. Instead, the movie they are watching becomes "real life" and they are trapped inside it. Seriously. Someone actually thought this would be a good idea. One of the most comical moments is when everyone makes a run for the front doors, but can't get out because they are "locked." I guess throwing a chair through the glass to escape would have taken too much thought. Moments like these make the film very easy to pass off as another badly planned horror movie, but also serve to remind us that the director is just trying to have a good time. I can respect that. This is also evident in the bathroom scene when one of their friends has just been murdered, and there's nothing left but a pile of brains on the floor that they proceed to kick around like a hackey sack.

The blatant plot rip-off of classic films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is hardly acceptable. A nod to your influences is always welcomed - after all, imitation is the best form of flattery, but when our characters get a flat tire on their VW van and discover a house in the middle of nowhere, the references are all too clear. I have an idea - when the leading female character runs from the killer she should trip and fall too - now THAT would be something! It's going to take a lot more than that for this film to live up to its tagline "The new face of horror."

Regardless, I'm a sucker for films that try to introduce a new slasher icon, something rarely done anymore because the reality is your villain has some big shoes to fill. After all, you can't top Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, or Leatherface, yet filmmakers still try. Midnight Movie is leaps beyond Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, a pathetic attempt at creating a new horror icon, which I shut off after 20 minutes. At least the killer here has a cool weapon - a triangular metal knife that guts out your heart. I'm not going to spend any more time talking about this one or summing up the plot - you get the idea. All in all Midnight Movie is an entertaining film that goes good with popcorn and gets a few laughs. Check it out if you're bored and don't feel like renting Zach and Miri Make A Porno . . .

Midnight Movie website:

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