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Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - PLEDGE NIGHT

pledge night review
Students are slashed during a college hell week.

Review by Mike Vaughn

Directed by: Paul Ziller

Starring: Joey Belladonna, Will Kempe, Todd Eastman, Shannon McMahon, Arthur Lundquist

pledge night bluray

A slasher movie set in colleges is a time-honoured tradition with examples like Black Christmas (1974), Splatter University (1984), Sorority House Massacre (1987) just to name a few. Most of these movies focus solely on female coeds in various degrees of undress and later chopped up. However in Paul Ziller’s 1990 slasher Pledge Night, it’s the boys' turn to get sliced and diced as well. Pranks abound, as it's hell week for the poor pledges of Phi Up. Though the term 'hell week' is going to take on a whole new meaning when one by one, the students are brutally killed.

pledge night review

In terms of kills and thrills, Pledge Night takes its time. Now I don’t mind a longer set up per se, but in this case I found the first half an hour to be a bit on the boring side. Once the dull bits are over the movie starts picking up with some really nicely done splatter and though I wont spoil anything, I will say the film takes a hard left turn into a whole other horror sub-genre which I wasn’t expecting but which made things way more interesting in the long run.

[ READ MORE: Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - Creepshow Episode One ]

As cringey as the film can be, it does manage to be clever. For example, even when the screaming and the dead bodies start piling up, nobody panics right away because the poor pledges think it's all a part of hell week. And even though some bare breasted co-eds still get killed it's nice to see that the tropes are ever so-slightly subverted by making the frat guys targets. The guys are also, much like the women, shown in various stages of undress.

pledge night review

This is where the film wastes a golden opportunity to take this subversion and turn it up a notch, making the frat guys the sole targets. But I guess you need hot women to sell horror films and outside of The Thing (1982), it's rare to have an all-male horror film.

[ READ MORE: Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - The Hills Have Eyes Part II ]

Overall, it’s a fun enough movie that isn’t super original but still changes things up just enough to keep it engaging at the very least. It's weird, it's wild, and fans of cheese will enjoy the film's excellent practical effects, over-the-top action and its vintage rock soundtrack.

pledge night review

Vinegar Syndrome rolls out this rare slasher in a brand new 'paddle spanking' 2k restoration from the original 35mm negatives. The result is great with a sharp picture with no grain or distortion. Colours are bright and thankfully not washed out. And as with all of Syndrome's releases, they include an array of entertaining extras including interviews with director Ziller, writer/producer Joyce Snyder and actors Robert Lentini and Arthur Lundquist. The interviews are lively and enjoyable and make a great addition to this disc. Rounding out the features are a trailer and a pretty cool location featurette. Overall this is a must own, especially for slasher film completists.

Pledge Night is on dual format DVD/blu-ray now from Vinegar Syndrome.



Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”


His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @gorehound_mike.




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