Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Horror of...Halloween Night, The Midnight Hour, Part 1

Following on last weeks less than horrifying outing, it's time to start feeling the chill and fangs of this autumnal bliss that is Halloween. The leaves are changing, I've seen snow fall in places too close for me to like seeing it, the geese are eyeing the Southern skies, and . The season is on the move.

And so am I. ...I am travelling. I didn't work that into my planning. My apologizes. And I had hoped to complete this piece before now. But, events, people, illness, and access to computers has made that impossible.

BUT. We can at least begin.

So, fiends and monsters, may I present you with, the first part of two, looking at a Halloween Night choice you may remember. (I'll have Part 2 up by Saturday.)

Let us then get to some real Halloween chills.

The Midnight Hour is a 1985 production of the ABC channel, for showing on ABC (this is the US channel, for non-American readers). I will be honest here. It did show on November 1st, the day after Halloween. But I'm going to take a near miss of a genuine Halloween movie where I can find it. This should have been on the day before, and it has been a favorite for many over the years, to watch (When you can find a copy.) going into Halloween.

But yes, it is hard to find. The DVD came out over a decade ago, and has fallen more and more out of circulation. But you can find it on YouTube. (Honestly this is the best version I've seen in awhile.) But this really deserves a re-release, and maybe a Blu Ray.

It follows a group of teens who manage to awaken an ancient evil that turns on their city.

The teens of our cast consists of:

Phil Grenville (not Arkwright's nephew), played by Lee Montgomery. He's done some different horror movies over the years, like Burnt Offerings, Dead of Night, and Night Shadows.

Melissa Cavender, played Shari Belafonte. She's had a wide ranging career. She's been in Babylon 5, Beyond Reality, Gravedale High, and The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo.

Vinnie Davis, played by LeVar Burton. We all know Burton, or we should. Star Trek. Roots. Reading Rainbow. He's also been in Rise of the Zombies, Community, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Captain Planet, and Fantasy Island.

Mitch Crandall, played by Peter DeLuise. You know him. 21 Jump Street...No, too old for you kids? Seaquest DSV...? No?! He directed plenty of Stargate SG-1...Come on?! It's not that old. He's appeared as an FBI Director in Supernatural...grumble.

He's also, ironically, the only member of the main cast that was actually a teenager when they made this movie. Which might be funny if you know 21 Jump Street is about.

Finally, Mary Masterson, played by Dedee Pfeifer. She's been in plenty of stuff over the years. Things like AVH: Alien vs. Hunter, Burn Notice, Dead Zone, Cybil, Supernatural, and Vamp.

Then you have our supernatural lineup. Lots of ghouls, but only two real characters:

Sandy, played by Joanna Lee. Yes, you will constantly be fighting the urge to sing, "Sandy".

Lucinda Cavender, played by Jonelle Allen. A character that will make you ask, "Do witches do that?"

The movie opens on a paperboy. Not the most auspicious or creepy opening, but here we are.

But as we approach we see we are at...

Welcome to Elm Street, kiddies!

Ah...Well, we're just off Elm Street...Maple's pretty
nasty to.
I can't help feeling that this is a nudge at the Nightmare on Elm Street. And seeing as Nightmare on Elm Street came out the year before, it isn't inconceivable.

Either he's installing a baseball card,
or he's a criminal leaving his calling
But to the more mundane, the paperboy is prepping his paper and then prepping his bike. And that means putting a baseball card in the spokes of the bike. I never did this, and I assume kids today probably wouldn't get the idea of doing this. It's meant to make a sound as the back wheel goes around. Again, I never did it, and I never got why it was a thing to do. But even in my youth, I think it was an outmoded idea.

Then the kid catches his hand in the gears of the bike and blanches at the pain.

And, curiously, they suddenly cut to the title of the movie (seen above in the review), with no music or anything. And then they cut back to the kid, dealing with his finger.

I don't understand that choice. I guess that wanted to get the title out there, so people knew what the movie was. But it's really awkwardly done.

Still, movie swings up some from here on out.

The kid now pulls out a mask and puts it on.

Come on! I may have said I was getting tired of seeing this kid, but I didn't
mean this.
Well, doesn't that just finish the look.
 He then heads out to deliver papers.

I admit it. I would love to see a return of the Paperboy game.
And then a DLC for delivering papers during a zombie apocalypse.
This is mostly an excuse to introduce the city. Small town America in all it's...

...Cub Scouts raising a flag. Little kids playing. Small town America. All mixed into a montage...Did Michael Bay make this movie!

"Well, that takes care of my duties. Time to deliver some
milk then,"
Honestly, I think this movie is meant to be set in the modern (for the time the movie first came out) world. But it's so quaint. There's even a milk man!

I guess, considering positives, this movie does have Wolfman Jack.

Wolfman Jack was a poplar disc jockey from the 1960's through to the 1980's. Though, I think, most of his cache came from his appearances on TV and in movies, like American Graffiti.

Throughout the movie, Wolfman Jack will have a presence by way of radios playing.

It's also through this that some of the soundtrack will arise, giving songs like, "In the Midnight Hour", "Li'l Red Riding Hood", :Mama Told Me Not To Come", and "Bad Moon Rising".

"Dumbass is going away for a
long time."

As our paperboy heads around town, we also get to see the town's law enforcement. It's centered around Captain Warren Jansen. He's played by Kurtwood Smith.
Glad they've modified the graves
for Halloween.

He then takes a ride passed the average local cemetery. You know, tombstones, gaping holes with rising infernal steam. Same old.

And that it's for the paperboy.

Now we have Phil Grenville enter. He's our Joe Everyman. He's eagerly trying to get to school for a report he's giving (cause he's a high school He's not the oldest of the "teenagers".). But first he has to see his dad.

"How many fillings will you need?
Hmm, I think..."
That's an Eight Is Enough joke,
His dad is in his office,which is in the house, and it's dentist office. Well that would be nightmare fuel for most of us, right? On top of that, his dad's Dick Van Patten.

"Dad! I'm late for my Clark
Kent audition!"
His dad's...interesting. He seems to be an advocate of pain in dentistry. Surprised they didn't try and get Steve Martin for the role. Or, is that too on the nose? But he's really opposed to using any painkiller, even when patients beg for it.

I really don't know what that says. Are they just making a dentist joke? Or are they trying to add some creepiness?

At school, Phil is nervously setting up his presentation. Meanwhile Melissa, Mary, Vinnie, and Mitch are goofing off. Melissa and Mary play hangman. And Vinnie and Mitch are playing a game for quarters, and discussing why the teacher is late. I could some of them are really annoying, but they are just acting like teens. (Or how the screenwriter thinks teens are like.)

That's when a different teacher walks in. The attractive substitute...I think that's a trope.

By Billy, age 7.
Phil starts his presentation on the history of the city. He talks about how a witch once besought the city. The witch was an ancestor of Melissa (A great great....great grandmother.), named Lucinda. Melissa comes off like she's been hearing about this familial black sheep from people her whole life, and tired of it. Lucinda was very powerful. She was also a slave. She was defeated, and killed, by Nathaniel Grenville (who is Phil's great great...great granddad), who was Lucida's slave master (Talk about an unaddressed bit of subtext!).

Lucinda enacted a curse.
"All the legendary demons of Hell were loosed, and the dead with unfinished business on Earth came back from the grave."
Odd curse. Release demons...and people who have stuff to do.

But Nathaniel Grenville ended the curse. Yet no one knows how. (And, while it seems to be deemed historic, but no one seems to take it serious.) (It reminds me a bit of the underlying aspect of the new show Sleepy Hollow.

Phil conveniently adds the fact Nathaniel and Lucinda's clothes are kept at the local witchcraft museum. This allows Mitch to come up with a brilliant plan.

It's not robbery, if it's a museum.
Break into the museum, steal the clothes, and wear them to the big Halloween party (Because there's always a big Halloween party.)

Once school is out (and not too soon for some these alleged teens), out erstwhile Scooby Gang rushes over to the local witch museum to skulk about outside (sans Vinnie). They watch as the older lady who runs the museum leaves for the night.

You'll notice Phil is also along. He seems unhappy with this, but is still along. I guess he's our moral voice in this gang...who still joins in. He seems to be dragged along on this stuff. (It may be in part because of Mary, who he's pining for. But she keeps showing no interest. So I have no idea why he isn't getting a message.) He's given the argument that they'll just borrow the stuff. And mentioning that his dad is a judge who'll protect them. They don't take the claim too seriously, but also aren't stopping the plot.

After the museum lady leaves, an old pick up truck rides up, with some of the local color in it. A guy dressed to go hunting, with two dogs. As he stops to spit a bit, they figure he's been hired by the local police to patrol Main Street to catch Halloween pranksters. So the police hire this guy to independently walk up and down Main Street all night with some dogs, on Halloween? Is that an East Coast thing? Can't wait to see what the local police are like, they are lead by Red Forman.

Still, once he goes inside, they race over to a window on the side of the museum. There they find Vinnie (Hey there!), who hid inside the museum until it closed. So everyone is in.

It's funny, because they're in
the middle of a robbery.
But perhaps I should be the wet blanket here and say that this is illegal. Breaking and Entry. Robbery. (I know, I know. Why are you bringing this up? They're just crazy kids. It's just a movie. Lighten up. No. I am your wet blanket.) Are they our protagonists? If you look at something like the Evil Dead movies, the characters goof into the evil, not grasping what it is. Here they are on a "crime spree", and ending up in this position. Now if we aren't meant to like or root for these characters, this could make sense. Otherwise, it all comes down to if there's some karmic balance. Or, maybe, we need to reevaluate what is going on here as we go along.

Once they are in they grab the mannequins of Nathaniel and Lucinda and grab off their clothes. Melissa claims her greatest of gramgrams' dress. And Mitch grabs up the Nathaniel getup. They then push Phil to show them what else is in the museum, and they go into the locked archives (shoving the door open).

They quickly start grabbing things for the party. This is theft! If this was being made today they'd be live tweeting and posting pics to Instagram.

They grab candlesticks, and some other items. Then they grab an ancient chest to stick the stuff in, and find much more in it. They find Nathaniel Grenville's ring (which Mitch grabs -- You are so handsy!) and an ancient scroll. ...There are rules to surviving horror movies. A big one is: DON"T MESS WITH ANCIENT SEALED SCROLLS! (Another is about having mint gum. But that one doesn't come up much.)

It's like they're running like thieves.
I'd also like to note, that in all of this running out of the museum with a chest, dropping it, and making a lot of noise, the vaunted guard is oblivious. (Money well spent, police.)

And, having robbed some centuries old clothing, and an ancient scroll, they go to a graveyard. (It's like they want to get sucked into Hell.)

So they go to the cemetery.

If this last for more than four hours, call your landscaper.

Changing into the outfits, they decide to screw around with the scroll. (Brilliant!) They must be the type of people who play golf in a thunderstorm.

Mitch and Vinnie jokingly read it. (Really!) And Phil is worried. He does nothing, but he frets.

And Melissa takes the scroll and reads it aloud. (...) Of course, as someone who's had the legends about her family tossed around her whole life, you wonder if she has issues about the family lineage. Her family seems well off, but they are still the Cavendars. (If only this was an aspect of this movie. Not just a slight subtext)
"Astrious Mundabar Desmagon... I envoke your powers. Come Heed my bidding on this night of nights. The eve of Samhain, all Hallows Eve. Spirits of darkness, I command you to rise from your graves. Et Lavamous Sagamaine, All manner of demons. I emplore your release from eternal torment. Testegas Sogamaine. All manner of dead, renewed by sleep. Thirsting for blood, this night and forever, he who is touched by evil, shall become evil. Sodamous sogamaine. He who has died, shall rise again, bestamous sogamhaine. Life to the dead, Death to the living. Demons arise, arise, arise."
"I've just had a vision. Hotel isn't
going to catapult my career."
It seems this is different from what was mentioned by Phil, with the talk of the dead with unfinished business. But maybe the couple of mentions of dead rising in general is a loophole. Or, like in many stories, Halloween is just the easiest time for ghosts to come back, and the door Lucinda (and now Melissa) opened, was one that was taken advantage of by many.

Melissa really gets into her role, and sways more and more as she goes. At the end she collapses. But it's a fake out, to screw with everyone else.

And with that, they run off, again.

What happens next? All Hell breaks out. LITERALLY!!!

...Maybe not. But a bit of Hell breaks out.

And get ready for Melissa to continuously make this face.

And be ready to figure out, what the hell is he?

And, what the hell Phil?

And see what happens when Red Forman solves the Puzzle Box.

And, a werewolf...? Why not?

Also, will we answer these questions:

  • Will Mitch realize he's wearing 300 year old underpants?
  • Will Phil grow a spine?
  • Will all our secondary characters come to fruition?
  • Will Mitch shamelessly hit on teacher?
  • Will Vinnie pull the LaForge Manuever?
  • Will Sandy find a Summer Love?
  • And who really is the protagonist of this story?

See you next time.

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