Sunday, October 01, 2017

The Horror Of...Halloween Night, The Midnight Hour (1985)

The calendar page turns again, and we walk back down a familiar haunted path. The season starts anew, like the zombie freshly risen from it's grave. Ghoulish fun must be had. The macabre hunger must be fed.

So turn down the lights and get ready, because the knocking you will soon hear at your door will be the Halloween's spirit. Welcome it. Bid it to enter. There can be no escape.

Get the hot chocolate. Pass the tiny candy about. It's our time again.

To start us off I want to go to grand offering of the 1980's. The Midnight Hour.

Now, you may somehow know that I have covered this treasure in the past. But that ended up being a multi-post effort, and I have doubts people really want to read me going moment by moment through a film. So I want to reintroduce you to this fright gem.

And it is worth getting to know.

Wolfman Jack on the radio. Classic Halloween music choices playing. All setting that mood.

A bit of TV movie horror out of the 80's. Not a recreation of the 80's. Not a remake of the 80's. The 80's in all the glory scriptwriters, with no clue about 80's kids, can bring.

Ones an undercover cop. The other really loves reading. They fight crime.

A Halloween Night not to forget, as a group of kids manage to unleash a curse on their town by reading an old scroll at the local cemetery/portal to Hell. Kids, right? Before midnight, the curse must be broken, or the evil will reign over the Earth. [Savagely critical and witty joke about the current politics.]

So a kid, his dead girlfriend, and their scrappy dog race to save the day. Wait...that's a werewolf. Bad lycanthrope!

Along the way we get ghoulish sights, death, and a kickin' song or two. Then there's "Get Dead".

Thank you, film, for stopping the movie for this. America appreciates your efforts.

Movie was first shown on November 1st, 1985 on ABC. So, again, network TV managed to miss Halloween night or season with a movie/TV show made precisely for it...Yes. It still pisses me off.

Worse, this show hasn't been available to buy in over 15 years. What the hell? I mean, come on! Is it the range of music in the film (In the Midnight Hour, Bad Moon Rising, Li'l Red Riding Hood, How Soon Is Now - which I always seemed like a 90's song, etc)? What?

Yes, this is not the movie for someone looking for gore. But for those of us that like at least a little cheese on Halloween, this makes a welcome accompaniment for other cinematic fares.

The story opens on the morning of Halloween with a paperboy readying for work at the corner of Elm Street and Maple Street (Why yes, this did come out the year after A Nightmare on Elm Street.)

He puts on a mask and begins his rounds, taking us on a tour of the idyllic little town. It gives us a feel for the town before the curse tears through it. Every things there from the town square to the local milkman (Were milkmen still around in the mid-80's?).

Yeah, man. You stand up to the Big Dairy.

Our plucky kids are:
Mitch Crandall (Peter DeLuise), the rebellious son of the local hanging judge.
Melissa Caender (Shari Belafonte), the descendant of the executed witch, Lucinda.
Vinnie Davis (LeVar Burton), the new kid in town from New York.
Mary Masterson (Dedee Pfeiffer), Melissa's best friend.
And then there's Phil Grenville (Lee Montgomery), descendant of the the local Witcher Hunter.

"Holy Grail. Ark of the Covenant. Oh, look! Sunny D!"

They're a group of kids who don't mean any harm...when the break into the local museum, steal and break some artifacts from the 17th century century...And then they decide to go to the local cemetery, try on the close they took and look through a chest they stole that was owned by Phil's ancestor. (Sure, Phil didn't like this idea, but he also was willing to go along. He's the groups Leonard.) They find a ring and a sealed scroll (And a candle, but it isn't as interesting.)

Oh, good. A cemetery looking like this. Halloween night. And, an ancient witch scroll. This can only lead to good things.

If any of these people were nerds, they'd have the good sense to not mess with an ancient scroll. But they are idiots, so they open it. And then Melissa, the descendant of a witch reads out the words on the scroll. A spell.

And the curse is unleashed. The dead rise. The demons move. And the creatures of darkness are freed.

Free to roam the Earth, they head to town.

And it's up to Phil and Sandra (A ghost of a teenager from the 50's, who's also the only one with a real clue.) to set things right.

The curse sets evil free on earth, unless the curse is unmade by midnight. But to do that, they need the scroll, the ring, the candle, and the ground bones of the witch hunter. And as it seems everyone in town is dead and turned, that will be a hard shopping list to fulfill. Holiday shopping, right?

"I got an arm!" "I got a leg!" "I got a rock,"
The film is a fun ride, in my opinion. It has it's goofy moments, but it's all part of the magic.

When Phil firsts sees Sandy, he has a weird music video fantasy. Why not?

Phil's dad is a dentist who is also clearly a sadist. Is that news?

And then we had Wolfman Jack on the radio throughout the movie. Or, was that just in my head?

But, really, this is your costume, Phil? What the hell?

Just what the hell.

My only lament is still what seems to be an implication at the end that the night was undone, to some extent. Phil sees all the creatures around his car disappear. And then he sees that his car is restored. That suggest that the damage of the night is no more. And that, to me, isn't as satisfying as the alternative.

Or, maybe, the whole thing was a hallucination brought on by ancient mold
in that old chest...No, that's silly.

"He who is touched by evil shall become evil." And sealing the scroll was meant to send the evil to Hell. I, being an utter bastard, like to imagine that everyone killed and turned that night was taken as well. Maybe Phil gets a reprieve, but I like to imagine he returns to town to see it empty. After all, he was trying to contain the evil.

It may seem dark, for this film, but sometimes a movie feels like it needs a light ending and sometimes it doesn't. Either way I do enjoy watching this movie every Halloween, and I hope you will give it chance as well.

Just don't go reading any ancient scrolls at the cemetery afterwards, okay?

If you are tempted, I offer this. The movie is left out of our reach, but someone was kind enough to turn on their VCR and record a copy for posterity. Commercials and all.

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