The Movie Waffler Retro Review - Hell Night (1981) | The Movie Waffler

Retro Review - Hell Night (1981)

Directed by: Tom DeSimone
Starring: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton, Kevin Brophy, Suki Goodwin

Nowadays nobody who wants a legitimate career in the film industry would dream about starting in porn but that wasn't always the case.
Back in the seventies the technical specs of skin flicks were pretty much on a par with regular movies, they were shot on film and required a knowledge of lighting that non-professionals simply didn't have. If you were a director with a list of porn titles on your cv you were taken seriously by producers of exploitation fare. Tom DeSimone, director of titles like "Swap Meat" and "Heavy Equipment", was taken aboard by Irwin Yablans of "Halloween" fame to direct this slasher. He should have stuck with porn.
Having never attended college in the United States I didn't realise that Hell Night was an actual thing, the night when pledges are put through ordeals in order to be accepted into fraternities and sororities. Blair is one such pledge and to prove her worth she and her slutty English friend must spend the night in a purportedly haunted mansion with two guys who look like they belong in a "Hardy Boys" porn spoof. The fact that the guys in this movie are prettier than the girls is a clue to the directors previous career in gay porn.
You know straight away that Blair will survive the night as she instantly shows no interest in sex, in fact she seems completely disinterested in anything, mumbling her way through the script like she's hypnotised. Goodwin is doomed from the start as she takes drugs, drinks, and jumps straight in bed with a guy who seduces her by using surfing as a sexual metaphor. As far as easy lays go she's right up there with Jamie Lee Curtis in "The Fog", the early eighties must have been a great time to be a horny young man.
As slashers go this is particularly tedious, the kills are bland and badly shot, the attempts to build up atmosphere amounting to tedious scenes of characters walking through poorly lit corridors. Aside from a few amusing lines of dialogue there's little of interest here.
Screenwriter Randy Feldman didn't get another script produced for eight years after this but it was worth the wait, the buddy cop classic "Tango & Cash"!

For more opinions on "Hell Night" check out Final Girl Film Club over at Stacie Ponder's awesome horror blog Final Girl!