Last night (Friday of the convention) was a good night to be both a slasher fan and a gore fan. We first got to screen Blood Night and then after we watched Sweatshop (see my review here). Both films are throwbacks to 1980’s-style slasher flicks and both are indie horror projects. Sweatshop is a really fun gore flick, but overall I think Blood Night is the more mature of the two films. Writer-director Frank Sabatella really took his time crafting a solid film with good characters, a nice pace, and fun gore f/x. Sabatella, actor Bill Moseley (who plays Graveyard Gus), and a few others were present for the screening and from Sabatella we learn he’s spent the last two and a half years of his (mainly sleepless) life making this film. And it shows.
The story is loosely based on a real legend up in Long Island. Here Mary is a young girl (12 years old) who basically fucking loses it after her first period. That night she picks up a hand-held hatchet and butchers her mom and dad. It’s a great gory opening that grabs you and keeps your attention. Mary is thrown into the loony bin and ya can’t help but feel we’re in familiar territory; you know that movie where a young boy kills his parents and goes to the crazy house? What’s that called <evil grin>? We join Mary 11 years later where she is huddled up in her room naked.
A disgusting, fat night orderly goes into her room and rapes her. It’s implied that this has been going on for a while. 9 months later she delivers a still born baby. She can’t take the news of her dead baby and goes even more freakin’ ballistic, slaughtering the majority of the people in the institution, and removing the head of the orderly who was raping her. She confronts the police who gun her down (where we get to see every bullet hit her in close-up detail; a nod to Rob Zombie??) all before the beginning credits. Did I mention that this whole time Mary is naked? I didn’t? Well Mary (Samantha Facchi) is naked the entire time she is on screen the entire movie; it’s awesome. They must have a gym in the institution because she looks hot (but then I always had a “thing” for crazy chicks)!!
Cut to the same town in the present; the townies have dubbed the night Mary was gunned down “Blood Night” and they celebrate by throwing parties, throwing tampons, wearing Mary masks, getting drunk, and of course having sex. Everything you’d expect from a movie paying tribute to the 80’s slasher. We join a bunch of high school kids as they prepare for their party. Right off the bat you’ll appreciate the characters Sabatella writes: These aren’t the standard asshole high school stereo-types you’ve come to expect. The cast of high schoolers are in fact a very likable group of kids; the kind that you could see yourself hanging out with. Sure they’re kind of idiots but they aren’t annoying. They speak “real dialogue” and don’t do overtly stupid things to make their plight worse. In fact they do the opposite. Once the killing starts at the house they’re partying in they … get this … they LEAVE the house!! Wow; what a novel idea!! As well as believable characters there is also really well placed humor here that never takes away from the horror and scares. You can tell Sabatella loves the genre by the way he places the humor. He’s not going for a horror-comedy (thank god) but is using humor in some places to alleviate some of the tension. And it works. In one scene the teens are rummaging through a bunch of old vinyl records and they come across a Tom Jones album. One of the teens just stares at it with an almost terrified look on his face. Apparently he once caught his dad “fucking his mom in the ass” and Tom Jones was playing in the background and it traumatized the guy for life. It’s an extremely funny scene that lightened up the mood before the carnage (re-)starts.
The gore, as mentioned above, is very well done and the kills will remind you of some of the classic slashers from the 80’s. Jeremy Selenfriend did some great f/x work here, and there wasn’t a hint of CGI (and if there was any CGI there was very little of it and it was well incorporated so it looked natural). There was one stretch that felt like it ran on too long (you’ll spot it) and could have benefitted from some editing, but overall the movie has a really nice pace. Bill Moseley also lends his acting chops here as Graveyard Gus (an homage to the “Crazy Ralph” character in the first 2 original Friday the 13th’s?). He gives his typical great performance and even … aahhh you’re gonna have to find out for yourself. Besides Moseley we get another Halloween remake alumni; the always cute Danielle Harris (as Alyssa). She has a pivotal role and continues to carve out her niche as a great Scream Queen.
Besides some pacing problems the only other criticism I had with this one was that the “big reveal” came a little bit too soon. Sabatella blew his wad a little early and should have left us dangling longer. But the reveal didn’t hurt the film at all and felt like a genuine 80’s-style twist. Blood Night is definitely Sabatella’s tribute to 1980’s slashers and he succeeds in every respect. He even sets the stage for a sequel, which I for one would love to see. But as he tells us in the Q & A after the screening, Blood Night took up two and a half years of his life and he’s ready (and needs) to “see other girls” now. But he hasn’t completely written off the possibility of a sequel.
Just like with Sweatshop, Blood Night is a solid indie horror film that proves you can make a great movie with a small budget. These two films have raised the bar on indie projects and I for one hope they challenge other talented indie filmmakers to “step up” in their projects. Definitely check this one out.
Director: Frank Sabatella (and writer)
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer at the Texas Frightmare Weekend 2010