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Midnight - DVD - Arrow Films Print E-mail
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Written by Jay Creepy   
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Severed Cinema DVD Review

Cover Art from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema
BUY MIDNIGHT ON DVD

AKA: Backwoods Massacre, Croix de fer, Terror ved midnatt, I poli tou Satana, Katharmata poulimena ston Satana, John Russo's Midnight

Directed by:
John Russo
Written by:
John Russo
Produced by:
Samuel Sherman, Dan Q Kennis, Donald Redinger
Cinematography by:
Paul McCollough
Editing by:
Paul McCollough
Special Effects by:
Tom Savini, Raymond Laine, John Russo, Greg Besnak
Cast:
John Amplas, Lawrence Tierney, Melanie Verlin, John Hall, Charles Jackson, Greg Besnek, Doris Hackney
Year:
1982
Country:
USA
Language:
English
Color:
Color
Runtime:
1h 34min

Distributor: Arrow Video

Dislike him or totally loathe him, John Russo does turn out some half decent odd material once in a while. Yes he screwed around with the Holy Grail of zombie flicks, yes he executively produced Children of the Living Dead, yes his original Return of the Living Dead novel was so rubbish it was totally altered and left only with the title for the movie, and the less said about The Booby Hatch... I don't wish to talk about that. In fact it's ironic he shares the surname of Vince Russo, of the wrestling world, who also has a habit of churning out hit and miss, but darn he always has a good excuse afterwards.

Midnight is currently due for a remake by Russo starring Gunnar Hanson, and the original
Midnight isn't too bad. It's based on his own pulp novel, as was 1987's The Majorettes, and he can at least call it a labour of love. That's the feel you get off this film; it has so much love and a big heart. The cast are having a good time, the movie is so cheap and awful, it's just trash heaven! We felt like we'd rented a tape, banged it into a top-loader, hoped for a brill thrill ride and laughed at the results.

We open with a flashback as a little girl screams in a field. Her ankle is snared in a trap. Drawn by her screams is a mother and her teen kids who are all believing this girl is a demon in flesh, courtesy of some religious fist pumping by Mother. One boy, Luke, steps forward and beats the girl to death. They haul her corpse to their house, call up Satan, and then drive a blade into her chest.

Off we head to present day (1980's) and we meet Nancy in confessional. She admits to sexual relations with a catholic boy. “I'm sorry.” “You had better be sorry.” says the Priest in a dead tone voice. She returns home and her stepfather, Bert, is played by Lawrence Tierney of Reservoir Dogs/Hill Street Blues. He's also a cop, and he's drunk. Yep, she's in trouble. “Daddy, no,” she squeals as he gropes her. “I'm not you daddy, I'm just your stepfather, we're all alone. Why don't you loosen up a bit? What do you look like with no clothes on?” Nancy gives him the most pathetic thud to the head with a radio -- I mean, it's just a little tap, and he's out cold. Nancy hurriedly packs and runs away accompanied by the rather catchy central music to
Midnight. (“You're all alone, you're all alone...”)

Nancy is picked up by Hank and Tom, two fun loving weed smoking petty criminals who travel the roads stealing along the way to survive. They run into Rev. Carrington and his daughter who explains about a series of murders made to look like accidents, and how because Hank is black like he is, a lot of locals and law men won't be too friendly in those parts. They hitch a ride to their house by a cemetery and stop by 'momma's' grave. Unbeknownst to them, a big bearded hillbilly is watching and looking wild. (Why the Hell does Carrington stretch near enough the last word of each sentence? It's annoying!!) His daughter, Sandra, heads home whilst he finishes up at the grave. Soon, Carrington is hacked and sliced out of shot by the big hairy laughing hillbilly.

Meanwhile, Tom, Hank and Nancy do indeed run into angry locals and cops. “I'm 'a lookin' on you, black boy.” “We don't need your kind round here. We don't need you!” Then they're ordered to leave town. Tom, enraged, decides to rob the local convenience store. (As this is all happening, Sandra is stalked and butchered by the giggling gnome looking dude). Then off we go with the theme again, because “You're all alone, you're all alone...” and the gang are stealing loads from the store, driving off, but into a brief police chase which drives them deep into the countryside and surrounding woodlands. Spotting that fat bearded hick carrying a bundle and backing away from the van, Nancy swears she saw a foot sticking out from the sack. Camping down drifter style, she plays guitar and they smoke weed by the camp fire.

Nancy's mom is getting worried. She's telling Bert how it's not like Nancy. He heads to the station promising to check all reports.

The next morning, Nancy wanders from the camp, leaving the fellas asleep and soaks up nature by herself -- a look of total freedom on her face. On the way back, she sees two cops with guns on Tom and Hank so she hides. The skinny cop, played by John Amplas of Martin and Toxic Zombies, is convinced the two lads are killers. “You scum! You don't deserve humane treatment. Where's the girl?” The two cops are getting more leering, “You're gonna have to pay. We don't care if we take you in alive or dead.” “I remember now,” says Tom, “We saw a big heavy man.” He tries to explain everything but the two officers’ just laugh like maniacs. Hank decides to run but is shot down. Tom is shot next. Nancy shrieks and runs for cover. They see her and everyone has a jolly good run around. Nancy is caught. From then on we meet the rest of the 'police officer's' family, for you see they aren't really cops at all! Really? Damn!

The gang of kids at the beginning are now older and are capturing women to sacrifice in a ritual to resurrect their dead mother. It's so simple sounding isn't it? Bert ends up in the mix tracking Nancy down, and John Amplas is gleefully over the top as Abraham. A decade later, John Russo put together a short sequel which follows Abraham the only survivor of the family played by a different actor, though John apparently features in archived footage, e.g. flashbacks which maybe fill in a fair bit of its 72 minute running time.

Tom Savini provides some of the basic effects on a restrictive low budget. It must have been low, we've seen him work wonders with pocket money budgets, but it's so simple in this movie and mainly off-screen, so we really only see the aftermaths. In fact the grand finale was taken over by Russo, actor Greg Besnak, and casting director Ray Laine, effects wise due to re-shooting. Apparently the original ending was deemed too dark and depressing so Russo wrote a far more action packed affair. Unfortunately, Tom was unavailable.

Midnight is a great time passing cheap little thing. We had a couple of glasses of red wine and believe me it does up the ante as regards to entertainment with a choice alcohol. As far as John Russo's spotty output of work, Midnight is a shining light when compared to most.

Arrow Video has roped in John Amplas for an introduction and a retrospective documentary on his career called Vampires, Rednecks & Zombies. He mainly aims our focus towards Martin and Day of the Dead. Everything else appears to be a footnote including Knightriders and
Midnight, which is weird with regards to the latter.

There's a trailer, and a sit down interview with John Russo as he laments the difficulties making the film. Arrow also popped a reproduction poster and a booklet in the box as well. Cool.

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

Screenshot from Midnight on DVD from Arrow Films on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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Skull - Severed Cinema1/2No 
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 DVD: 1 
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Skull - Severed Cinema1/2No 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1, 4:3
 Region: PAL R0
 Audio: Dolby Digital Mono


 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 - Vampires, Rednecks & Zombies: The Career of John Amplas
 - Introduction by John Amplas
 - Midnight at Your Door: Interview with John Russo
 - Collectors Booklet
 - Poster

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 June 2014 )
 
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