Sometimes, a horror movie's title fits the movie, while sometimes, they don't. Such is the case of "Night Fright"...
Shortly after a flaming object is sighted crashing near a small Texas town, a teen couple are brutally killed. Soon the local Sheriff, and a group of partying teens are being stalked and killed through the deep woods as they try to discover who or what the killer is...
When I hear a title like, "Night Fright," I tend to think of ghosts and demons terrorizing innocent people in the middle of the night... or of late night TV shows airing old B-movies. This movie would certainly qualify to be shown during such a show.
In fact, judging from the opening credits, and musical scoring, I would say that "Night Fright" was actually a made for TV Movie- and a cheesy one to boot.
Which probably made it a perfect choice for winner of this weeks, "What Movie Wednesday" installment, as it won the poll with a total of five votes.
Even though it's pretty cheesy, there are some positives to it. This came mostly in the form of John Agar as Sheriff Clint Crawford. He looked like a tough, no nonsense Sheriff that was compassionate and honest at the same time. He looked heroic, authoritative, and strong, yet approachable and open at the same time. Agar's acting went well with the character. Of the characters (and the acting), he seemed the most believable of the lot. His character was also the most unique of them as well- the others came off a bit cliched... especially Frank Jolly's rebellious, bully Rex Bowers. When he was on the screen, I found myself being distracted by his rather odd shaped hair.
Carol Gilley as Crawford's girlfriend, Nurse Joan Scott looked pretty good, and what little acting she did offered potential for more depth to her character's relationship with the Sheriff. I was especially taken by how nice her eyes looked in her close-ups- they really drew me in and kept my attention. Nicely expressive in my opinion. I also thought that Bill Thurman did a fairly decent job as Deputy Ben Whitfield, even if it was the usual pudgy but loyal Deputy role he was playing.
Jolly's Bowers character was cringe inducing. The acting was effective at making you dislike him enough to want him to be nommed on by the creature in the forest. Beyond that, it was rather flat. Roger Ready as Professor Alan Clayton was a bit better, though not much- but that could be due to his not really being in the movie much, except to deliver a couple of major plot points.
The two heroic teens- Chris and Judy, who were played by Ralph Baker, Jr. and Dorothy Davis, was about what you'd expect from a low budget, cheesy B-movie like this one, but did show potential for professional growth. I would be interested to see if they have any later films to see if they improved.
The story is pretty simple, and is told fairly well withing the 75 minutes or so of the movie. The plot development and the length of the movie is another thing that makes me believe this was a made for TV movie. The basic "it came from space and is killing people" premise has been done better by other B-movies such as "The Blob"
I actually liked the camera work. Much of it gave me a "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) sort of feeling. The scene of the newspaper reporting searching the wood for clues after the first deaths are found especially reminded me of "Night of the Living Dead." While there are some editing flaws, my only real complaint on the visuals is the film quality. It would've been nice if the people who included it in the box set I bought had digitally remastered it and cleaned it up a bit. The quality made it hard to see some of the shots taken at night. One scene of interest in regards to editing is the party/Deputy death scene. They way shots of the teens partying and dancing, cut with shots of Deputy Whitfield being attacked was good in my opinion.
"What about the creature?" you ask? Well, I was a little disappointed in that, truth be told. The first traces of the creature indicated that it had alligator type qualities as it had left alligator type footprints. I was kinda hoping for a gator-man, but got a ape suit with a Klingon forehead. Not only that, the film quality made it hard to make out any decent detail on the creature. I seemed mostly just black fur. I also would've liked to have seen a bit more of the kills, but the only grue we get is couple of shots of the Deputy's face with dribbles of blood on it. Not much of a pay-off, sad to say.
While, ultimately, I was disappointed in "Night Fright" over all, there are some positives in this movie. I would recommend it for a B-movie night party, as I found it fun to poke fun at the movie while doing my "What Movie Wednesday" tweet-along to it... and I'm sure those that followed were equally entertained. It's worth a single viewing... but nothing beyond that. I'm place it in "The Bad"
I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature. I'll be doing it again April 25th.
Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Night Fright":
- Jay (from "We Came From the Basement";
- Seirei Hishou;
- Bobbie-Jo Kampff;
- Leona Biron-Coulter; and
- David Stewart