SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES
TV Stars vs. Porn Stars vs. Hillbilly Mechanics vs. Aliens!
By Nick Cato
1985 was a great year for horror films. We fans were treated to theatrical releases of George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD, Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS, Stuart Gordon’s RE-ANIMATOR, and Dan O’Bannon’s RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD…and those were just the tip of the iceberg. It seemed every week a winner was coming down the pike—but, of course, I managed to stumble across a real clunker that caused me to doubt my fellow man’s sanity.
While Friday night audiences were wrapped around the block trying to get into sold-out screenings of the second A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET film, my buddies and I decided to wait till Monday and instead hit the (now defunct) Amboy Twin Cinema for EVILS OF THE NIGHT, one in a series of exploitation films that reeled idiots like myself in primarily with its poster art (see above). With a rip-off of STAR WARS’ Millennium Falcon spaceship, a poor girl with spike-like nipples being drained of blood as skeleton hands grab for her, there was just NO WAY I was going to miss this. And when I squinted hard enough that I could read some of the stars (who are all hear simply for a paycheck), I was convinced we had another “so-bad-it’s good” epic on our hands.
Well, it truly is a BAD film. But if you like bottom-of-the-barrel rip-offs, it doesn’t get much more entertaining than this.
Director Mardi Rustam (who had produced several genre titles before this directorial debut) delivers this ode to old-school SciFi films by featuring John Carradine as the main alien who has come to earth seeking teenage flesh and blood for use in some kind of anti-aging youth serum (or something like that…the plot’s all over the place). His assistants are Julie Newmar of TV’s BATMAN and Tina Louise of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND fame. Their acting here is as atrocious as the lesser known “teenagers,” several of whom were played by popular (at the time) porno stars, such as Amber Lynn, Jerry Butler, and Crystal Breeze, who gets the WORST ACTING IN THIS FILM award for her facial expressions as she’s strangled by a hillbilly mechanic as her boyfriend takes her from behind. Don’t ask…
But since you did, the hillbilly mechanics are conned by our alien trio to help them collect fresh corpses. Neville Brand (who is as uninteresting here as he was in Tobe Hooper’s overrated flop, EATEN ALIVE (1977)) and Aldo Ray (fresh off another celluloid abortion, 1984’s FRANKENSTEIN’S GREAT AUNT TILLIE) play the bumbling overalls-wearing mechanics, who had the crowd shouting insults every time they decided to abduct a teenager by such hi-tech means as frayed rope and pillow cases. I mean, let’s get serious here for two seconds: IF a trio of aliens forced me to go out and abduct teenagers, and I was slightly overweight and could hardly run, I’d SURELY demand they give me one of their ray guns or space-age stun phasers…but apparently Carradine and Company come from a planet that’s as cheap as their spaceship and the run-down hospital where they’ve chosen to base their intergalactic operation out of.
I never thought I’d say this, but the “blood-draining” techniques used here PALE in comparison to those used in 1972’s notorious INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS…and trust me if you haven’t seen either film, this IS saying something!
But good ‘ol Mardi Rustam (who would mercifully direct only two more films) had an ace up his sleeve: he KNEW the SciFi here was lame. He KNEW the horror in his stink-fest was non-existent. So he figured he’d grab some porn stars to do a few nude scenes, and Presto! EVILS OF THE NIGHT became as racy (sex-wise) as PORKY’S (1982) and a host of other teenage sex comedies that flooded the early 80s market. Word of mouth (at least in my neck of the woods) spoke more of the lesbian beach sequence than it did of aliens draining teenage blood: more people rented this on VHS a few months after its theatrical release due to Crystal Breeze’s aforementioned doggie-style sex scene, and Amber Lynn’s romp in the boat house segment, than they did for any other reason. Because, there really IS no other reason to see EVILS OF THE NIGHT, unless, of course, you get demented pleasure in seeing former TV and movie stars going down like the Hindenburg in a last ditch effort to save their careers (although John Carradine had already starred in plenty of Z-grade films, so we’ll let him slide).
Ironically (OR, was it planned?), Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE, a very GOOD film about space vampires, was released a few months before this putrid platter of pus. Perhaps give that one a shot if you haven’t.
Unless you’re a true masochist for horrendous Sci-Fi/horror/soft porn films, definitely PASS on this one, should you encounter a DVD or late night cable screening.
© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato