Night Fright



Year of Release: 1967
Also Known As: Fright Night, E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nasty, The Extraterrestrial Nasty
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 75 minutes (1:15)
Director: James A. Sullivan


Cast:

John Agar ... Sheriff Clint Crawford
Carol Gilley ... Nurse Joan Scott
Ralph Baker Jr. ... Chris Jordan
Dorothy Davis ... Judy
Bill Thurman ... Deputy Ben Whitfield
Roger Ready ... Prof. Alan Clayton
Gary McLain ... Wes Blau
Darlene Drew ... Darlene Scott
Frank Jolly ... Rex Bowers
Bill Holly ... Deputy Pat Lance
Janiz Menshew ... Carla
Russ Marker ... Mitch



Summary:

A Texas community is beset with a rash of mysterious killings involving some of the students from the local college. The sheriff investigating the death discovers the startling identity of the killer responsible for the murders. A NASA experiment involving cosmic rays has mutated an ape and turned it into an unstoppable killing machine with a thirst for blood.


Review:

Night Fright, remindin' us that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but namin' a place "Satan's Hollow" is pretty much askin' for it. Really now, who thought this was a good idea? When you christen a place with a name like this you're bound to attract either fish headed yeti monsters with matted dinglefur, or a slug of hungry young exorcists lookin' to make a name for themselves. It's just like those idiots who try fishin' over at Bear Creek. Somehow, the last thing to cross their minds is a moment of complete unadulterated surprise right before they end up cloggin' some poor Grizzly's arteries. An Reverend Dollarhide claims evolution's just a deception created to test our faith... yeah, sure it is pal. But speakin' of people who're doin' everything in their power to invite trouble, Billy Hilliard's ex-wife (the harpy who bit off halfa his tongue when she caught 'im flirtin' with a waitress over at Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks) asked 'im to come visit 'er at the Soggy Valley women's correctional institution a coupla days ago to try workin' things out. I TOLD 'im to stay away from that carnivorous cavelady, but even after repeatedly bludgeonin' 'im with the fact that she's a coupla sows short of a pig pen, an that she's only one more psychotic breakdown away from him communicatin' through nothin' but hand gestures, he went over there anyway. I'da stopped 'im, cept he's got about 150lbs on me an 'sides that, I was already late for my weekly conjugal visit with Phyllis Jablonski an when I keep 'er waitin' too long she generally gets P.O.'d to the point that she tries twistin' my wangdoodle into a balloon animal. Phyllis is the one who looks like Captain Caveman after takin' a header into the pig trough, who I was assigned to after Fury of the Succubus inspired me to see if bein' raped on a regular basis would really lower my resistance to it or if they just made that up. It never did help, but my psychologist says I need to maintain a "disciplined regimen" to keep my personal life in order, an seein' Phyllis every Thursday still beats joinin' the army. Anyway, I'm pretty concerned about Billy, cause when he picked me up at the prison infirmary after his visit he couldn't stop talkin' about how that feral femme of his'd "turned 'erthelf aroun'" an that the last few years of havin' to cooter her cell phone've taught 'er to quit takin' things for granted, an to "rethpek an apprethiate" Billy enough to refrain from actin' like an extra from Cannibal Holocaust anytime he's polite to another woman. I'm just gonna come right out an say it now; Billy's pretty much a goner. I mean, I understand that he's been a little depressed an lonely lately, an that in retrospect it was prolly a bad idea to push Bambi Pankins on 'im when he was already questionin' whether there was any reason to go on, but somebody needs to stop this guy before he ends up field dressed an hangin' upside down in somebody's barn.

I really don't need this right now, Lord, can't you just give me one week's peace? Suffice to say that after that incident (an the fact that any date with Phyllis generally results in a mandatory 18 hours of recuperation time), I was kinda depressed myself, so I had Billy dump me in my recliner an stuff Fright Night in the VCR to try an boost my spirits. Only by the time the sneak previews'd ended an I realized he'd stuck Night Fright in by mistake he'd already taken off, an because I'd lost the remote control about 16 years ago there was no way to stop it. I know he ain't dyslexic, I think he did it on purpose cause I referred to his ex-wife as Broadzilla an suggested she was gonna do the Tokyo Stomp all over his self respect. I did manage to make the most of it an jot down a few things I learned for the benefit of the public, like don't keep this movie layin' around where it could hurt somebody. First thing I learned was that NASA's budget's been cut back so far that they can only afford to send three guys out into the field when one of their rockets comes plummetin' down outta the sky like a head-shot goose. Second, when there's little time to spare, the best possible candidate to mail your highly sensitive evidence off to the crime lab is the city's newspaper man. Doesn't get much safer'n that. An third, in Texas, you can psychologically scar a woman for life by sneakin' out on your dinner order. You give somebody like that the idea that their cookin' ain't worth the headcheese out of a Javelina hog an they're pretty much destroyed for life an end up havin' to join a convent cause they're convinced no man'll have 'em.

But what really interested me about this one (once I stopped tryin' to claw my eyes out) is that in Texas, a passenger side car door serves little more purpose than to reduce aerodynamic drag. Which is not to say that anybody livin' down there actually cares about their mileage, but it can be a serious detriment when tryin' to race your fellow rednecks at a stop light if it ain't hooked on there. Bizarrely, prior to 1979 when those Duke boys pioneered the hood slide, it was considered rude and/or pompous to open the passenger door for any reason. It may also be that the men wanted to be chivalrous an open the door for their ladies, but not to the point of actually goin' all the way to the other side of the car to do it. Which is understandable, cause you don't wanna seem desperate. Sides, it's a whole lot easier to just shove 'em across the center console, even though that does sometimes result in the loss of a coupla teeth when their faces impact the window crank. It's also important to take precautionary measures if you drive a stick shift, cause if you're not careful you can wind up gettin' 'er hung up on the shifter knob an renderin' yourself obsolete. Still, I have my own theory explainin' why they did this. I think they were deliberately dumpin' their dates on toppa the armrest to make sure that if there was a bun in the oven that the yeast'd never rise, if you follow me. It was like the Texas equivalent of the mornin' after pill, only nobody'd ever find out about it an ridicule your family until they'd hafta pack up an move to Oklahoma, like with a real birth control pill. Much as I disagree with their methods, I've gotta applaud their resourcefulness. I honestly didn't think they had it in 'em, but this is diabolically brilliant. Now if they'd just harness that ingenuity for good, we could really be onto somethin' with these guys if there were any laboratories down there for 'em to do sciencey stuff in.

The movie begins with this couple neckin' out at Satan's Hollow, which I guess is so named because it's the designated spot for this kinda behavior an is designed to keep all the blue haired church ladies from stumblin' upon a scene that might give 'em a shock that sends 'em to God's waitin' room. Then this newsflash comes over the radio about a fiery object that crashed in the hills not too far away, an states that if anybody was to find it they'd rightly appreciate 'em lettin' the authorities know cause they can't find the goll durn thing anywhere. You'd think that if it really was all that fiery there'd prolly be a towerin' inferno by now after it impacted some redneck's haystack, but who knows. Maybe it's an El Nino year an Texas is soggier'n an order of ball park nachos. Anyway, they go back to neckin' til a point of view monster sneaks up on 'em an chews 'em up an leaves 'em lookin' like a coupla cigars at the mercy of Lee Marvin. Elsewhere, this kid who looks like Tom Brady's untalented younger brother (Chris) shows up at a sorority house to pick up his girlfriend (Judy) whose hair looks like a hurricane just struck the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, so they can drive out to the woods an get themselves into one of those situations you see in 1950s abstinence films. But instead, Chris just waxes poetic about a buncha hypotheticals that haven't really been hypotheticals since mankind discovered the benefits of science, an makes it abundantly clear that he's there on an athletic scholarship. Then Judy gets a glimpse of how any children produced with this guy would score on the S.A.T. an takes off through the woods like bigfoot after a salmon heist, only to come upon the grisly demise of the last couple who engaged in sinful acts of lip carnality. Not too far away, the sheriff (Clint) is whinin' to his deputy (Ben) about how one of NASA's rockets crashed in the center of his county an that a buncha elitist feds won't even let 'im have a look at it or introduce 'im to Neil Armstrong. Then some NASA wimp (Alan) who smokes a pipe all the time so people'll think he's sophisticated shows up an chats with Clint awhile about how the Aggies don't have a chance in hades of knockin' off Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, til the CB starts goin' off an Clint hasta drive over to Damian's Divot to look at the corpses an say things like "what kinda monster would do somethin' like this?" Poor kids've lost more face than John Kitzhaber since he started boffin' Cylvia Hayes. But about that time, the local newspaper man (Wes) drives out to the scene lookin' for a scoop he can use to cause a panic big enough to give 'im a few days worth of headlines, only Clint just makes 'im wander around the area lookin' for evidence til they create the world's most asymmetrical crop circle an about all that gets accomplished is Clint runs some razorbacks home to Arkansas where they belong.

Then Wes finds some triceratops tracks, at which point Clint tells Wes that this's clearly the work of the Lizard King an to put out an APB on Jim Morrison an get somebody from France on the horn to hook 'em up with some plaster of paris for the print. But about that time some kids come drivin' down the road an Clint hasta tell 'em to go play their Beach Boys albums someplace else cause he's up to his ass in confusion an doesn't have time to run down the reasons why their generation'll never amount to anything. So the hoodlums (Rex, Mitch, Darlene an Carla) drive back to town an hit the Arctic Circle til they've packed away enough burger grease to beat back the rage bile in their guts an decide to sneak past the heat once it's dark outside, all the while Clint's over at the station yellin' at the staters to come bail 'im out cause he's in so far over his head that there's a lanternfish swimmin' around in his pants. Later that night Chris picks up Judy to go out for dinner, only she's still bein' a big girl about findin' the couple whose faces'd been used for dental floss an so he takes 'er over to the A/C Greasy where the waitress asks 'em if they're goin' to the big shindig out at Mammon Mountain an Judy gets this look on 'er face like Chris might as well abandon any hope of poundin' a "That Girl" shaped helmet hair divot into his backseat. So she makes Chris tell the cops about the rubery in progress, only the cops're out clubbin' a hippy for possessin' a doobie someplace an Judy makes 'im ditch out on their order to go wet the blanket. Then we're subjected to two solid minutes of white party patrons performin' some bizarre form of body language akin to a four year old pretendin' to drive a car while simultaneously tryin' to shake a Goldfish cracker outta their butt cracks. While that's goin' on, Clint's driven over to Alan's place to show 'im his Teenage Mutant Ninja footprint an Alan says not to worry about it cause he heard that Leatherhead got ran outta Louisiana a few weeks ago an that he's prolly just passin' through on his way to Fouke, Arkansas. But about that time, Clint's girlfriend (Joan) comes home from work an finds a note from 'er sister (Darlene) sayin' she's gone out to the Devil Dome, an after she calls an misses Clint at both the station an Alan's place, decides that there aren't nearly enough distressed damsels in this flick an peels outta the driveway.

Meanwhile, Derputy Ben's out lookin' like an obese Larry Hagman on patrol near Beelze's Butte an runs into a spot of trouble when the thing from Robot Monster wearin' the Tor Johnson Ghoulie's head comes outta the woods, resultin' in Ben losin' his skin privileges an bein' relieved of doodie. Then Chris an Judy finally get out to the hootenanny an Chris tells the vocal yokels that they'd better split an that he's not normally a narc but he'd kinda like to get into Judy's pants sometime before Woodstock. Only Rex gets P.O.'d an starts shovin' Chris around like Bruce Irvin an Chris hasta tattoo "Bryan Adams High School" all over Rex's face til everybody (cept Rex an Darlene) runs like hell before Chris can unleash any further Bryan Adams fu. Course, Rex an Darlene refuse to leave cause that'd mean Rex acknowledgin' his subpar penis measurement, plus Darlene kinda likes the idea that if it ever comes down to it she can prolly out punch Rex in any domestic dispute. Then they start neckin' til Harry Clog shows up an makes Rex extinct before chasin' Darlene all over the forest like a coke addled chipmunk, at which point she runs into Joan an instead of just climbin' into 'er Mustang they both fail to work the knob on a nearby cabin while Murray the Furry continues to advance on 'em. Fortunately, Clint shows up in time to distract Slewbacca so the women can escape. Unfortunately, the skunky monkey's now P.O.'d at Clint an chases 'im all over Texas til he runs into Chris an Judy who've had to pull over to vomit after gettin' a whiff of Deputy Ben's exposed gut bucket, an pretty quick Chris' Impala's carryin' a bigger load than Ben's colon. Once they get back to the station, Clint yells at the staters some more an demands they send Chuck Norris an Wilford Brimley down there like last week to get things under control, but about that time Alan shows up an asks to speak to Clint privately. Then Alan lays the big secret on Clint; seems the crashed rocket was fulla astronauts from the local pettin' zoo an that the scientists were tryin' to test out the effects of cosmic radiation on animals, only the shuttle got lost in space like Will Robinson for about six months an when it finally came back all the animals on board'd mutated into the cast of the Genesis episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Gonna cut it here but fear not, John Agar's dealt with nastier monsters than this guy. However, if you don't think you can survive another day without knowin' what happens, Night Fright's in the public domain and can be viewed on Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcu0kHUNgkM

Alrighty, well, Night Fright is another regional effort from down south, that was shot on an estimated budget of $18,000. Unfortunately, nobody told James Sullivan that the cheesy sci-fi craze of the 1950s was over, and at the end of the day we're looking at nothing more than a minor tweak in the terror from outer space subgenre. This one is a little interesting though, in the sense that it did incorporate some actual science (before completely disregarding it later on during the exposition scene where they explain the monster's origins) to come up with the plot's premise, as we were in fact using animals in test rockets around that time. The idea was to test things like gravity and the effects of G-forces, but I'm still inclined to give these guys a little credit for doing a small amount of research, before immediately taking things in a silly (if entertaining) direction. The movie's biggest problem is that the pacing is excruciating, and we really don't get to see the monster until the last 15 minutes, which is about the time you begin to realize *why* you didn't get to see the monster until the last 15 minutes. They prolly figured that this way, they've at least kept everybody in the theater long enough that they may stick it out to the end, despite the fact that their monster looks like it was made by the same guys who constructed Donald Trump's hairpiece. You've also got a few scenes that seem like they're building to something but never amount to anything, like when John Agar finds that wad of somebody's nappy weave stuck in a tree and has Gary McLain mail it off to the lab. Once that thing's mailed, it never comes up again. Then there's the mind-melting shots of the cast "dancing" (for lack of a better term) for a little over two minutes. Yeah, we get it, they're having a party, and yes, Janiz Menshew does in fact have a very nice backside... can we get back to the movie now? Ten seconds of this would have gotten their point across, but they must have used 15x that amount. There actually is a reason for that lengthy dance sequence (besides the obvious one, which is to pad the movie), and you can rest assured that anytime this particular explanation crops up in a movie, you're looking at a cheese-fest that's too stupid to hate; publicity in exchange for a free song. In this case, it was performed by a Texas garage band called The Wildcats. But when you've got a dance sequence or a club scene where an entire song is performed, you realize at that moment that you'd better lower your expectations. You've seen it in Zaat, Track of the Moon Beast, and The Giant Gila Monster, but even though the music is less retch inducing in Night Fright, nothing can prepare you for the bad white dancing.

I guess that's enough stallin', time to don the Wookie suit an see how bad it stinks in there. The plot is okay by B movie standards, but if failed movie science is something likely to induce a fatal aneurism, you probably shouldn't try watching this one. I especially liked how the rocket got lost in space for a while but was eventually able to stop and get directions so it could find its way back. Other than that, there's really no sense in getting worked up about exposure to radiation causing various animal species to mutate, cause if you're gonna get mad about that you're going to have to excuse yourself from a whole lotta creature features. The acting is hilariously inept and not surprisingly, most of the cast were involved for no better reason than to be able to tell their friends they'd been in a movie. The majority never worked in film again. The exception of course is the one star, or at least one time star, that these kinds of film makers always try to reel in to establish some semblance of credibility, which in this case was John Agar. John was in a lot of the better science fiction movies in the 50s (usually with Universal), until the market dried up and the genre was inherited almost exclusively by the guys who made those types of movies because they were cheap to make and easy to get into drive-ins. Course John kept doing those types of movies even though it probably didn't do positive things for his career, because John was our kinda guy. John doesn't really need me to toot his horn at this point, so here's who else matters and why: Carol Gilley (Zontar: The Thing from Venus, The Yesterday Machine), Dorothy Davis (Cathy's Curse, They Came from Within), Bill Thurman (Mountaintop Motel Massacre, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Keep My Grave Open, Creature from Black Lake, Encounter with the Unknown, It's Alive! 1969, In the Year 2889, Mars Needs Women, Curse of the Swamp Creature, Zontar: The Thing from Venus, The Black Cat, Attack of the Eye Creatures, The Yesterday Machine), Roger Ready (Creature of Destruction, Mars Needs Women, Curse of the Swamp Creature), Russ Marker (Beyond the Time Barrier), Brenda Venus (The Psychopath), Byron Lord (Creature of Destruction, In the Year 2889, Mars Needs Women). Bill Thurman was also a regular in these types of B movies, but one must really be into them to consider him famous enough to warrant the kinda name recognition needed to abstain from listing his relevant credits. But in general, the acting in this one is really amateurish and entertaining in all the wrong ways.

The special effects are few and far between, but you'd have to say that the wounds inflicted by the monster are acceptable. They're in no way elaborate, just bloody faces for the most part, but they aren't a detriment to the movie's overall rating. The monster on the other hand, while not as laughable as some of the all time greatest creature blunders like the ones from Zaat or Robot Monster, is pretty ridiculous. Fortunately, most of the modern releases for this movie involve Mill Creek, so the print is too dark to see just how bad it is (though I believe the Alpha DVD looks a little better). But is that really how you want people to look at your creation? With the perspective that the lighting was so thoroughly botched that we can't speak definitively regarding just *how* bad the monster is? The furry suit is rotten as all get out, this much you can tell even with the poor lighting. The head though seems to have a few shots that suggest it might not have been completely without redeeming value. In any event, the carnage is certainly lacking in this one, even for a movie from 1967, so one must conclude that the special effects suck both in terms of quality and quantity. The shooting locations are, as is often the case with these low budget flicks, the high point. That's, almost without exception, the kiss of death. The 60s diner is probably the best one, and even that's just because these days people like to look back at a simpler time and smile when they see these types of places. Otherwise, we've got a lot of thick underbrush for hapless twenty-somethings to get hung up in while fleeing the monster, and very little else. It did have one sequence that looks to have been shot at around sunset (though it's hard to tell, because there are countless discrepancies as far as time of day go in this one, and a whole lotta bad day for night shots) that really highlights the autumn foliage on the trees in the area, and comes off very well. I attribute this to dumb luck. The soundtrack... oh good grief. It's tough to choose which aspect of this flick is legitimately the most damning, but the soundtrack is at least in contention. The bad party song aside (it was a party after all, so it's at least appropriate), most of what we're treated to is bland and unforeboding at best, and goofily cheery like an old sitcom at worst. And whichever fist you're currently being pelted with at any given moment via this abysmal one-two punch, you can always safely assume that it'll be overused and repeated ad nauseam. You'll be surprised to know that the composer only did one other movie, and that it took almost a decade for the stink of this one to wear off before that could happen. Overall, it does have a fairly significant level of "so bad it's good" content, so it's a whole lot more enjoyable than an old crusty black and white flick from the 30s, but it's still woefully incompetent. So if you're into campy screw ups, you'll probably enjoy this one. But if not, it's best avoided.


Rating: 40%