Sunday, October 11, 2009
Day #10 is a frat challenge... IN HELL!!!
HAPPY HELL NIGHT (1991)
D. Brian Owens
On Halloween Night in the forties, a priest named Zachary Malius (Charles Craigin) sold his soul. Then in 1961, that same Priest became possessed and viciously murdered seven frat boys who went into a local crypt as part of their initiation games. Malius was put into a protective cell in the local mental institution and forgotten about.
Until 1991, when the party is on baby! Yeah!!!! Whooo!!!!! Those wacky party boys at Phi Delta Kappa know how to celebrate Halloween, or as they call it, Happy Hell Night, like nobody's business! To coincide with their party, they intend to make the new pledges, all one of them(!), do crazy shit to get in. After the suggestion of "fucking him in the ass" doesn't go over so hot, the local tech geek of the frat, Ned Bara (Ted Clark, where did they find this guy?) suggests sending the new pledge to the asylum to get a photo of the crazy, psycho killer inmate! Fun times for all! When the head jock Eric (Nick Gregory) tells his Dad (Darrin McGavin) about the pledge gag it results in probably the funniest, worst directed flashback in the history of film! Starting with blaring music that is a riff on the MIAMI VICE THEME! Then featuring McGavin as a teen played by current indie film fave Sam Rockwell who just grins into the camera in slow motion. Words cannot describe the intense stupidity of the scene. Then it's over and we still don't understand what we just have seen. But what Eric doesn't know is that his girl Liz (Laura Carney) is bumping the uglies of town bad boy Pete (Scott Bell). You know he's a bad boy because he wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. But wait, there's more melodrama because Pete is Eric's brother! Say WHAT?! Eric spots Pete's bike at the local motel and decides to look for his brother in various windows and spots the couple making the beast with two backs. Or, I should say, spots a couple of body doubles, because the gal has huge breasts that do not match Laura Carney at all. A close-up of Laura Carney's face is cut in as she sees Eric through the window. Being the great ho she is, she doesn't tell Pete his brother just saw them fucking! So when he arrives at the party later, his brother punches him out and makes him go on the psycho frat prank with the pledge to prove his worth. (Did I mention earlier, Say What?!!!)
Bad Boy Of the Town Ladies. Watch Out!
Naturally, it goes wrong as the priest gets loose and tears off the hand of the pledgling. So Pete, being the bad boy hero he is, does what an all American badass should do: leaves the guy there to get butchered and runs for it. He makes no attempt to push the monster back into the cell and lock it (which would have been easy) or help the guy. Nope, just makes for splitsville.
Now here is where the movie really goes wrong. The priest is actually really creepy looking. Bald, pale, with total black eyes, he's a real shocker; and when he is on screen, he is a presence to be reckoned with. But you have to remember this was made in 1991, when all horror movies were under the influence of Freddy Kruger and therefor all bad guys have to make witty jokes, this being no exception. So every time he kills someone he has to spit out something funny. Like, he'll kill someone in a car and then say "no parking!" So what menace he has is right out the window, becoming a laugh riot, but not for the right reasons. The frat guys are almost as good. All of them are so interchangeable that you end up losing track of who is who, except that one of them has a broken leg. When Eric decides to bed down one of the girls, he uses the awesome pick up line of "I've seen you here before, wanna fuck". She likes it. But when they get to that point she turns him down because "your little jimmy isn't wearing a raincoat!" to which Eric confusedly asks "you mean a rubba?". So he stumbles out of bed goes downstairs to get one, sees his bottle of vodka and starts drinking instead. Forgetting all about the girl upstairs. Which is fine with her because she proceeds to rob the dumb mook anyway.
BARA is watching you get naked!
The Killer starts working his way through the kids at the party one by one, but no one seems to care. There is a semi-clever subplot were Bara has wired the whole house with video cameras to record the girls getting laid and undressing so he can sell the tapes, but instead ends up using this to monitor what the monster is doing. When the reveal of who the monster is, and the connection to the Frat kings happens, his own greed does him in. There's ridiculous witchcraft/exorcism mumbo jumbo to wrap things up and a Phantasm 2 rip-off ending.
HAPPY HELL NIGHT is incredibly entertaining, for all the wrong reasons.