Hell Night (1981)

Directed by: Tom DeSimone

Written by: Randy Feldman


Linda Blair... Marti
Peter Barton ... Jeff Reed
Vincent Van Patten ... Seth
Suki Goodwin ... Denise Dunsmore
Kevin Brophy ... Peter Bennett
Jimmy Sturtevant ... Scott
Jenny Neumann ... May

Release Date: Theatrical: August 28, 1981

*Images courtesy at: www.terrortrap.com






Four fraternity pledges try to join the Alpha Sigma Rho and it's sister sorority but the head of the campus named Peter Bennett (Kevin Brophy) tells them that they have to spend a night at a supposed abandoned manor owned by a family called the Garth's as 12 years from that day a previous resident murdered his entire family.
Legend has it that the Garth killer is still alive and roaming the manor and is mentally retarded who will kill anyone trespassing.
While the four stay in the manor Peter and his two friends named Scott (Jimmy Sturtevant) and May (Jenny Neumann) all decide to do some scary pranks on them but suddenly they realise that the legend about the Garth killer being alive is true and are all killed one by one as the killer uses trap doors and secret panels to sneak up on them and the fraternity pledges.
Suddenly one of the pledges named Denise Dunsmore (Suki Goodwyn) disappears and a decapitated head is found underneath the sheets of the bed by one of the pranksters and the three survivors from the pledges named Marti (Linda Blair), Jeff (Peter Barton) and Seth (Vincent Van Patten) are trapped at the mansion and try to fight for their lives.


There's many different great shots in the beginning of the movie with a frat party going on as well as a nice presence by Peter Bennet acting flirtatious towards a party girl. There's also a good shot on Marti asking her friends who he is which grabs your attention too.
There's great shots on vehicles with sorority co-eds driving and being loud towards a metal gate with a nice introduction by Peter by telling everyone about the Garth Manor and telling them the creepy tales in a strong tone.
The film spots a great shot at the dark creepy old mansion.
There's great discussions between Seth and Denise Dunsmore goofing around and getting friendly with one another which looked quite amusing.
There's many good scene's with Jeff, Scott and May planning pranks around the manor cracking jokes etc. It looked like a natural bunch doing sorority jokes.
There's a nice shot on May walking along a ground with the killers hand from a trap door grabbing her which makes you jump a bit and looking very frightening as well as her falling into the trap door with the killers hands getting ready to swing an axe and a nice shot on her looking terrified and then screaming.
There's a good shot on Scott on the rooftop of the manor trying to call to one of his co-ed's and then a great presence by the killer with a close up shot on his hands grabbing at his face and then breaking his neck which looked quite painful and well done.
There's a nice moment with Denise in a bathroom checking stuff out with some good jumping moments on minor pranks when she opens some lids with those jokes popping out of them as well as a nice shot on the other end with Peter wearing a mask on the other side of the mirror and flashing it towards her and she doesn't get the joke which looked a little humorous on how it was coached.
There's a good discussion with both Jeff and Marti when they test a door discovering some of the pranks there as well as him shouting out to the head sigma leaders about them aware of what they're doing which all came together in a good fashion.
There's also a good moment between the both of them discussing on what they thought they saw when they were younger as well as Marti by coming over to his bed and then a nice close up shot on the two of them moving in to kiss one another.
A good moment with Peter on the roof of the manor with wind blowing and calling to one of his friends and then rolling up a cable cord and spotting his dead friend with a great close up shot on his face looking shocked.
A nice moment with Peter trying to unlock the gate and the killer trying to drag him away which looked like a nice struggle.
There's a good moment with Denise lying in bed with the camera zooming past her showing a doorway as well as a shot on a doorway looking in and then slowly approaching her. Then there's a great shot on the killer standing over her with a close up shot on her opening her eyes and about to scream with him putting his hand over her mouth which all of this looked truly frightening.
A good moment with Seth returning to the bed after going to the bathroom and then unpulling the covers with a great close up shot on a decapitated head and him freaking out. Then there's a great anxious discussions with him telling Jeff and Marti what happened and anxious to escape the manor. All of this was powerfully done.
Great shots on Seth struggling and trying to climb over the metal gate which looks suspenseful wondering if he will make without getting hurt.
There's a good moment with Marti and Jeff by slowly walking back to the manor and a shot closing in on an open door with the two of them slowly going to the door and being cautious which looked creepy.
Many good shots on Jeff walking around a maze of bushes with a pitchfork and then spotting a corpse.
There's a good discussion between Jeff and Marti by lying near a bed with a background on a carpet rising up with the killer hiding under it and slowly creeping up on them and then a good shot on Marti turning around and screaming with Jeff showing full of energy by getting up and stabbing this killer with the pitchfork.
Many great dark shots with the two of them wandering through passageways of a tunnel and acting cautious as well as a great shocked reactions after they spot dead bodies in a table with some candles as there's great close up shots on all of this. A perfect shot on the killer spotting them in a distance of the passageway and then the two of them looking freaked out and running away.
A nice shot on Jeff falling down a staircase while struggling with the killer.
There's a great close up shot on Seth pointing a shotgun towards one of the killers and shooting him with him and falling into a fountain pool and then him walking down to check up with the killer rising up again with a good close up shot on this and then this dude shooting him again.
Good moment with Seth entering the manor and telling Marti and Jeff that he shot the killer with a nice shot on another killer from a corner pulling him in and then a loud gun bang and then the shotgun being thrown on the floor. There's a good shot on Marti slowly walking near the gun and trying to get it with the killer trying to jump at her which makes you jump a bit.
A great scene on Marti which looked wonderfully done with her climbing on top of a roof with wind blowing and trying to get away from the killer with great shots on her doing this.
There's a nice shot on her driving in a car with a shot on the windshield and then the killer peeking down and trying to get to her which is another nice jumping moment.
Bottom line: Another great cheesy slasher flick by the same makers that brought you Halloween. Everything about this film was quite dark and mysterious wondering when these killers will show up next and which doorways they have to each of the areas around or inside the manor.
Lots of great scenery in this one as well as looking at some pledges doing anything to join the Alpha Sigma Rho looking like a total party flick and then the terror really happens as the people are being slayed which you don't expect on a Hell Night to get into the sorority house.
It's no doubt one of those fun to watch horror films of the 80's in the same vein like Prom Night or even Terror Train. During this time period alot of slasher films were made and others imitaded them. I can find this film to be very influential.
It was also great by having a historical story and having a legend behind it thinking that's all it is and then the legend will kill you for trespassing on the supposed abandoned manor. With slasher films, this is quite normal so the chemistry is just right for that type of a storyline. Alot of critics said this film was bad and no reason to have it shot. Well it's a film so bad it's good and it's mysterious so I disagree with what they have to say about that.
I would consider this flick a definete cult classic and perfect to watch on Halloween night. It's also one of those drive in types of films which would've done well.
Truly creepy haunted house type of a film and has a total dark feeling to it as well which is just as cool along with all the spooky trap doors these killers enter in order to kill their victims too which will definetely give you nightmares if you scare easily!

The acting was good for it's time. Of course I enjoyed Linda Blair's (Marti) performance as the head fraternity pledge and because of the Exorcist, she was cast in this flick and was blossoming into a scream queen in the same lines as Jamie Lee Curtis. Although many of you will disagree with me but I found this one to be her best horror flick and the Exorcist her second. She does well with her innocent attitude as well as being outgoing too at the same time. Plus she does well with her frightened emotions to top it all off. There's a nice moment with her acting a little nervous when there's a hologram of a ghost approaching her and then talking to the other pledges about it and not trying to get too emotional about it which looked incredibly natural as if she were really acting that way. Definetely she showed some descent energy in her role.
Peter Barton
(Jeff Reed) is a fine character actor himself as he tries to be the hero in this film which he pulls off extremely well and resembles alot to Donny Osmond and was at one point a teen idol too in the short-lived TV series The Powers of Matthew Star. He portrays a nice guy next door type of attitude in the film with his calmness towards everyone and just a total descent human being too. He does well by jumping after spotting a corpse.
Vincent Van Patten (Seth) is of course the son of legendary actor Dick and he was my second favourite actor in this film and is good at acting intense and proves to be just as much as character actor like his father is. He really knew how to acting funny and charming as well as getting paranoid when the terror starts to happen in the film with his excited emotions. He also showed great anxious expressions. He does well near the end of his performance by acting excited while entering the manor telling the other onscreen pledges that he shot the killer. He had the highest energy out of them all and used all of it into this film. I'd say he was probably the best out of the whole cast in the film.
Suki Goodwyn
(Denise Dunsmore
) brings alot of humor to her role as a foreign sorority pledge bringing on a nice character to her part in the film. She shows it off greatly and does what she has to do. I wasn't disappointed at all. However she remained a virtual unknown which is a shame as I can see her getting more work.
Cult actor Kevin Brophy (Peter Bennett) does a fun performance as the troublemaking prankster and the head of the Alpha Sigma Rho and deserves great credit for his work. He shows his sarcastic behavior nicely making his character very convincing with what he does. He also does well acting sarcastic towards the pledges when he hands him a gun telling him if they don't survive by dawn on shooting the lock on the metal gate and suggesting not climbing the gate too. He had the right looks and can really get into what he does. A shame he didn't get alot more acting gigs.

There are various gory scenes in the film.
A fraternity girls head is cut off and put in a bed
Another fraternity's head is twisted backwards
The head fraternity is impaled by some metal fences.
Also the Garth killer is impaled by the bars of the main gate to the manor.

The music was composed by Dan Wyman and does an awesome and influential job. His music is truly creepy with the deep organ playing as music really makes a film and he made this one terrifically well as you can't have a better person than Wyman. There's also low and the odd high icy sound piano plunking. Plus there's some drum beats during the final struggling too. We hear the odd suspenseful violin playing as usual for a horror flick like this one. Yet there's piano playing and other classical sounds during the closing credits which didn't seem to fit into the flick at all which was my only criticism.
He was also the orchestartor for Halloween and the score for The Fog (Both directed by the legendary John Carpenter)

There's a terrific songtrack during the opening of the film by a Leza Miller with the song of course titled "Theme from Hell Night" as it sounds like a Blondie type of song with a bit more attitude and dirt in it by the screechy type of vocals used in it. I loved every minute of that song which leaves a great impression for the movie since it sounds very 80's cheese like.

Peter Bennett: [Explaining why they shouldn't try climbing over the high fence] They'd be likely to cut their nuts off.

Scott: Now the fun begins.

Seth: If you weren't screaming, and we weren't screaming - then someone is trying to mind fuck us here.