To All a Goodnight
You'll scream till dawn.
Year of Release: 1980
Running Time: 90 minutes (1:30)
Director: David Hess
Jennifer Runyon ... Nancy
Forrest Swanson ... Alex
Linda Gentile ... Melody
William Lauer ... T.J.
Judith Bridges ... Leia
Kiva Lawrence ... Mrs. Jensen
West Buchanan ... Ralph
Angela Bath ... Trisha
Denise Stearns ... Sam
Solomon Trager ... Tom
Jeff Butts ... Blake
Bill Martin ... Jim
Sam Shamshak ... Polansky
Harry Reems ... Pilot
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, Santa Claus is stirring, and he's not bringing gifts. Five young female boarders at the Calvin Finishing School have set their sights on a festive Christmas holiday romp. They have just drugged their housemother and smuggled their boyfriends into the house. But their fun-filled promiscuous frolic will soon turn into a blood-soaked nightmare when a sadistic maniac dressed as Santa Claus arrives to deliver some holiday cheer, or maybe that's FEAR. The insane Santa Claus starts slashing his way through the house, and the gory body count begins. So you better watch out, as this Santa knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!
To All a Goodnight, remindin' us that when the airplane pilot is Harry Reems, it's best to be crystal clear when discussin' things like the cockpit. Any miscommunication can result in positively toxic P.R. for your airline an a stack of stewardess applications big enough to block out the sun. An speakin' of dames who're lookin' to get their baggage checked, I gotta say just how refreshin' it is to enjoy a family friendly movie like this one that truly embodies the spirit of givin' that Christmas flicks sometimes overlook while they're blowin' up glopola monsters in the microwave an beatin' the tar outta slutty nuns. Those movies certainly have their positive points, but I don't think that any other holiday favorite can muster the generosity exhibited by the horny ho-ho-hobags from To All a Goodnight. These women not only give it all away, but they do so to perfect strangers, which speaks volumes about their sincerity an willingness to extend a hand an help out the most deservin' among their fellow man. I'm just gonna come right out an say it, you casuals out there can throw out your copies of It's a Wonderful Life an A Christmas Carol, cause none of the alleged holiday "classics" nail the genuine feelin' of gratification one attains by watchin' these blessed bimbos share their gifts with the world. An as has long been the position of our savior, the J-man, the guys in the movie concern themselves not with the top shelf women bearin' enticing pornographic proportions, but rather the poor, unfortunate girls with mosquito bite boobs who're tired of havin' to stuff their bras so fulla Kleenex that they become fire hazards in the smokin' section at the Flyin' J. No way, the kindhearted, compassionate men of To All a Goodnight seek to show the least fortunate among us that they can be loved an appreciated despite a lack of sweater succulence. An these generous souls, in return, withhold nothin' from their male suitors despite the fact that they're all sportin' room temperature I.Q.s an haven't yet mastered deodorant. No sir, on this our most sacred of days, these ladies give all they've got an put themselves out there as a glistenin' beacon of light to show us who we can all become if we simply lay down our petty differences. Perhaps one day we may learn from this flick's example, an if we do, we'll all have a piece on Earth. This was a truly touchin' display, an as I turned away from the screen once the credits rolled to see Apollo chewin' at his Christmas ham bone, an Shankles snoozin' upside down in the spruce tree gracin' the corner beside the wood stove, I realized that all was right with the world.
I don't mean to get mushy, but I'm not made of stone. This one's downright TOUCHING, okay? But gettin' back on the clock, this one ain't just *any* nut in a Santa Claus suit shish-kabobin' chunkheads with his holiday spear an a twinkle in his eye, this is the *original* nut in a Santa Claus suit shish-kabobin' chunkheads with glee. Heck this one even predates Friday the 13th with which it shares quite a few similarities, an since I was always taught to respect my elders unless they were doin' somethin' completely stupid like usin' a match as a gas guage or sword fightin' with elk antlers, I've picked out a few things to pay forward. Ya know, in the spirit of givin' an all that. First, anything worth doin' is gonna require commitment. So if you're facin' down the mornin' sun durin' a really obvious day for night shot, do not under any circumstances try to downplay it. Compromise is for pussies. So you go ahead an give those actors flashlights like it's blacker'n a coal miner's lung in West Virginia an don't pay that sun no mind. Just don't turn 'em on whatever you do, otherwise you might look silly. Second, even your smarter girls don't seem to care whether you actually *believe* they're beautiful, just so long as you say it. Sometimes you can even remove your glasses immediately after such a proclamation an still not encounter any questions regardin' your sincerity. An third, milk's just a whole lot classier in a wine glass. That aughta hold you normal folks til next week, but while I was watchin' this one I couldn't help but notice what a lack of consensus the killer in the flick had about exactly what kinda killer Santa Claus they wanted to be. See, early on in the movie while Santa's slashin' through the hos with his blunt force slopin' blade, he's stashin' all the bodies in out of the way places or outright buryin' 'em to keep from drawin' attention to 'em. But then later on we get a complete reversal, with Santa bringin' whole new meanin' to the term shower-head. Now, I got no problem with showin' off your handiwork (long as you ain't gloatin' about it), but it's critical to make the distinction between bein' the crotchety loner style serial killer an the insecure dick-wavin' serial killer who needs everybody to know what he did so screwed up girls with Daddy issues'll mail 'im love letters in prison. This should be everyone's first crucial decision when gettin' into serial killin', otherwise you come off as a disorganized wishy-washy wimp who can't commit to a motivation. An as we all know from watchin' American History X an The Shawshank Redemption, you don't wanna be the guy in the communal shower that everyone thinks is a wimp. Bottom line here, if you can't take this line of work seriously, don't expect anybody else to take your work seriously. Otherwise you end up sittin' in court with fire engine red hair hopin' people'll imbue you with some kinda cool serial killer nickname but end up bein' known only as "cherry pie" over in cell block 69. I mean it now, if you're serious about this you needa pick an angle an stick to it, I don't wanna see anybody flip floppin' like Dolly Parton on a trampoline, it's pathetic.
The movie begins 2 years ago on Christmas break at Calvin Finishin' School for girls, which as I understand it is where they teach women to work a vibrator after their man ends the evenin's festivities prematurely an falls asleep droolin' on their Victoria's Secret night gown. Unfortunately, there's an initiation goin' on which involves chasin' this new girl through the house til she reaches the balcony where somebody scares the bejezus out of 'er an she ends up gettin' mashed into the pavement worse'n a protestor in Tiananmen Square. Next thing, we're in the present where it's Christmas break again an this drudge's talkin' over the intercom like Dr. Khan from Salute Your Shorts wishin' everybody a merry Christmas an remindin' 'em that if they come back pregnant they're out on their butts. So these girls (Nancy, Leia, Melody, Trisha, an Sam) who're too impure to get a ride home're stuck sittin' around this table waitin' for dinner while some real angry guy's lookin' over his revenge list an checkin' it twice while he fixates on a picture of the girl who did the triple somersault with a half twist onto 'er nasal septum two years ago. Then the housemother (Mrs. Jensen) comes in an tells the girls the superintendent ain't comin' back til Monday cause she's had a nervous breakdown lookin' over the success rates of the school's abstinence only education format an the girls get all giggly an start talkin' 'bout how much easier it'll be to hide the hired wang they're flyin' in with Tammy Faye outta their way. Meanwhile, some dork's outside tryin' to get the attention of this blonde who's standin' in front of 'er window lookin' like Bonnie Tyler in the Total Eclipse of the Heart video til Dear Stabby shows up an slits his throat and leaves windpipe chunks all over his Fonzi jacket, an once Bonnie finally comes outside he plunges his surrogate penis into 'er left chesticle. Back at the house, this skyscraper that looks like Sid Vicious (Master/Ruler of the World, not Sex Pistol) walks around creepin' the girls out an tellin' 'em he's gotta water the plants or God'll be P.O.'d, while Leia heads into the kitchen to tell Jensen to go to bed cause the girls' advanced studies in domestic servitude demand they get experience in the trenches before they'll be ready to take on the responsibilities of a 50s sitcom wife. But that's only phase one, Leia wants Nancy (she'll be our Jamie Lee Curtis for the evenin') to give Jensen the glass of spiked warm milk that the frat next door brewed up for 'er cause she figures nobody'll ever trace it back to 'er since Bill Cosby's on campus givin' a speech this week. So while Nancy's slippin' Jensen the roofies, the plane fulla contracted cock lands on the nearby airstrip an the girls all go out to meet the dudebros from Ramma-Gi (Alex, T.J., Tom, Jim, an Blake) an pair off while T.J. tells Harry Reems to stay with the plane while he goes back to the house to make a water landin'.
Then Blake starts playin' artsy folk songs on his acoustic guitar to see how quick he can shrivel the bimbos' libidos, an Trisha goes to grab some beer in a vain attempt to make Blake's music go down a little smoother since it's presently about as pleasant as receivin' cunnilingus from Dan Haggerty, only about that time some maniac in a Santa suit sneaks up on 'er an slits 'er throat while she's reachin' for the Lowenbrau. Elsewhere, Nancy realizes she's pretty much the unpopped kernel at the bottom of the popcorn bowl as far as skank selection goes, so she heads upstairs where she runs into Sid who tells 'er she'd best get to bed cause the devil's pokin' around somewhere an if she don't he's gonna have to powerbomb 'er through the dinin' room table. But back downstairs, Tom starts to sober up a little an realizes Trisha ain't back, so he goes around checkin' all the usual places, like under the desks an the backseat of the 1971 Fiat out back an eventually finds 'er corpsed up an stuffed inside the midnight book return compartment, til Santa shows up an uses a 40lb lump of coal to smash his face like a glass at Jewish weddin'. While that's goin' on, Alex an Melody excuse themselves while Blake chases Sam in circles around this ping pong table, til she realizes he's gonna last all of three minutes if she makes 'im tote his beer gut around for much longer, an they proceed to buff the livin' room floor. Unfortunately, all this premature finishin' goin' on in the Finishin' School is startin' to make Nancy doubt the establishment's effectiveness an so she goes outside to get far enough away that the orgasm shrieks won't shatter 'er glass of milk an sits there with this look on 'er face like she's just realized that most nuns have more interestin' sex lives than her. At least she ain't in the livin' room though, cause about that time this suit of armor comes to life an puts a crossbow bolt through Blake's eyesocket an hacks off Sam's head with a battle axe just to remind everybody who the real Lancelot is. So once the romance finally dies, Nancy heads up to 'er room where Sid comes in an tells 'er one last time that she'd better start prayin' like Tim Tebow if she expects to get through the night an so she promises to do just that an reminds Sid to stay grounded if he intends to use the big boot on Satan. Meanwhile, Melody's havin' to work real hard to win Alex over cause he's either gay or Catholic or somethin' an has absolutely no idea what to do or where anything fits cause he spends all his time playin' Donkey Kong over at the arcade, but eventually she's able to get his shorts off an explain it to 'im with a series of lewd hand gestures. The next day, Jensen brings the survivin' kids their breakfast an tells the guys they'd better scoot before long cause that's when the boss lady'll be back an she hates bein' reminded of what she's missin' out on since she hadda agree to go cold cucumber to set a good example for the girls.
Eventually, the remainin' kids start wonderin' where everybody is an how you could possibly get drunk enough on the pathetic yuppy beer they're drinkin' to pass out in the cold all night, but decide it's prolly no big deal an that they aughta go have a picnic an play grabass some more. Cept while they're out screwin' around, Alex goes full horn-dog an starts chasin' anything with less hair on its legs than he's got an ends up runnin' Nancy into a big pile of kudzu where she trips an lands on the corpse of Sid which promptly sits up like she just crushed its gourds. Then this P.I. shows up an says he's gonna hafta call everybody's parents, an T.J. starts freakin' out cause he's borrowed Daddy's plane when he's supposed to be grounded for gettin' hammered an buzzin' LAX the week before. So now the kids have nothin' better to do than sit around an rationalize about why everybody'd bail on 'em an constantly side-step the idea that they're generally unpleasant people, while the P.I. assigns these two sex offenders to keep an eye on the place. Then, once dinner time finally rolls around an the hired goon enjoys the first meal he's had in 16 years that didn't have to be shouted through a clown's head, Leia shows 'im where he can catch a nap before his shift starts an tells 'im if he behaves 'imself she'll come back later for some Private Dicking. Course she don't do coy real well, an she's back up there within about five minutes, an after T.J. gets up to grab a beer he hears the noise an goes upstairs to find 'er submittin' to inspection. T.J. don't really care that much though, "easy come, easy ho" an all that, so he heads back downstairs an starts mackin' on Melody while Alex an Nancy go wanderin' around the house to see if anybody needs a coupla wimps for their corpse collection. Fortunately for Santa it takes T.J. a solid four minutes to convince Melody that Leia don't mean nothin' to 'im an that she's the one whose stocking he wants to stuff, cause that gives 'im just enough time to part the hair of the second goon with an axe before T.J. an Melody go out walkin' after midnight out in the poonlight. Back upstairs, Leia finishes up ridin' the Hogo stick an heads for the shower, cept by now Santa's made his way inside an tacks the flaccid Dick to the bathroom door with a butcher knife like Martin Luther while Leia unleashes a chorus of horrified screams when the realization that the dirtbag stuck to the door is gonna be her last lay sets in. By this point, T.J.'s got Melody just about revved up enough to forget what a weaselly slimeball he is, only before he can make a deposit in the ole sperm bank this garrote wire noose gets lowered down around his neck an Santa strangles 'im like Daniel Pantaleo. So Melody runs back to the house where Alex eventually decides to let 'er back in even though that means the lenses on Nancy's love goggles're prolly gonna defog themselves, an he hasta smack Melody around a little til she tells 'im about the little incident at T.J. Axe. Gonna end it here, even though Santa's still got a few people to check off the naughty list.
Alrighty, well, if nothing else, this is absolutely the greatest movie David "Krug" Hess directed in his lifetime. Seriously though, this one's another instance where, if bonus points were being given out for making the most of a small budget, the score would be a lot higher, cause $70,000 just doesn't go that far even before you factor in that they shot this one in California. Still not gonna happen, but it warrants a mention, because it really did turn out pretty decent when you consider not only the limited budget, but also the fact that it was shot in only 10 days. It's got its share of problems, predictability probably being chief among them, but I'm not one of those mouth breathers who's gonna pat himself on the back and make a big stink about what a genius I must be to have figured out who the killer is so early on. While I'm inclined to disagree with the decision to do so, it's very obvious that the various hints (including the huge one in the first five minutes) given out regarding the identity of the killer are intentional. Fortunately it has a second "twist" which is less obvious, but still not entirely unexpected. I just feel like Krug gives away too much in this one, and that the overall result suffers for it. One might also wonder what could have been if the movie had been able to get into theaters for a Christmas release, but there just wasn't enough time with the shooting having taken place in November of 1979. It did apparently have at least some sort of theatrical release, so it stands to reason that it could have at the very least developed more of a cult status had it been released around Christmas rather than late January, and it prolly would've made a lot more money too. Of course, if you look at what happened with Silent Night, Deadly Night four years later (pretty much nobody knew about this movie, or even Christmas Evil at the time) they may have realized how poorly their movie would've gone over at Christmas time and deliberately opted to wait an additional month so that all the helicopter parents wouldn't fly off the handle quite so badly. One (who has seen it and knows what the twists are) might also take a look at To All a Goodnight and start throwing around terms like "ripoff" if one were uninformed, but though the parallels to Friday the 13th are fairly evident, To All a Goodnight was released in theaters four months before Friday the 13th. So whatever else may be wrong with it, nobody has any business shoveling that nonsense onto the heap. The only other particularly negative thing I'll mention before breaking the movie down into its individual sections for grading, are some positively atrocious day for night shots. This is made even sillier by the fact that the actresses all carry flashlights, that aren't turned on, and are even referenced in the dialog for anyone that might've missed that they've all got flashlights. At least it was relatively cloudy, but there're definitely some egregious shots with this problem.
Okay then, lets lop off this thing's head an hang in it the shower to see who screams an who laughs. The plot is alright, with the major aspects amounting to a mish-mash between Friday the 13th and The House on Sorority Row, but it gets bonus points for predating both of those titles. Realistically, you can't like either one of those two movies and hate the story from To All a Goodnight because that's all it is, and while I realize that the slasher cycle can get old once you've seen enough of these, it's not fair to fault it for being what it is, particularly when it's one of the earliest titles in the slasher sub-genre. The acting, for the most part, isn't bad at all. Maybe a little goofy at times, but the term "unprofessional" never came to mind for me while watching it. The male characters are probably a little less polished than the female characters, but then the male characters aren't really as important, so it kinda balances out. Judith Bridges is probably the best of the group as the skanky yet not unintelligent Leia, though I also liked West Buchanan as Psycho Sid, and Jay Rasumny as the sleazy security guard. Harry Reems as the airplane pilot is somewhat amusing, but pretty well irrelevant considering he has very little screen time. Here's who matters and why (sides Harry, cause I don't wanna wear out my "x" key running through his resume): Jennifer Runyon (Carnosaur, Schizoid), West Buchanan (Ring of Darkness, War of the Robots, Battle of the Stars, War of the Planets), Bill Martin (Demented), Jay Rasumny (Judge and Jury, Wham! Bam! Thank you, Spaceman!), Cathy Hicky (Corpse Eaters), Edwin Avedissian (The Black Room, The Aftermath).
The special effects, well, lets just say the movie's at its best when it's hiding these. In general, the blood is fine; good, even. But when anything more involved is attempted, we've got some pretty visible failures. The dummy falling from the balcony in the opening sequence is superbly terrible, the severed head in the shower near the climax is... well it's prolly the worst shower head you'll ever get, and the props are all noticeably inept as well. In particular, the axes and knives are unconvincing, light weight props that even the dim lighting conditions can't hide. Although the decapitation scene is actually okay because the head rolls fast enough that you don't get the "appreciation" for it that you do later on when it's hangin' in the shower, and the axe in the forehead doesn't look too bad either, less the prop axe I mentioned. But yeah, most of the actual effects that try to be more than a blood splatter are failures, so unfortunately, the special effects are prolly the low point. The shooting locations are pretty decent, by indoor standards. And though there are some outdoor scenes, it's the house that produces both the most interesting visuals, and the best shots. I dunno if the house was already decorated as it appears in the movie or if the crew made it up to look that way, but it definitely has an authentic feel to it that helps the atmosphere a great deal. It also looks to be heavily wooded at least in the area immediately surrounding it, which creates a certain degree of claustrophobia. The soundtrack is interesting, but only effective about half the time. For instance, the best way I could describe the score playing over the opening credits is that it sounds like I'd expect the horn on the spaceship from Killer Klowns from Outer Space to sound. It does make use of synthesized tracks, or at least portions of certain tracks, but it's primarily instrumental and tends a little bit derivative of two other horror classics, having reminded me both of Halloween, and Psycho. The track that's similar to Psycho is pretty short and plays while Judith Bridges is being terrorized in the shower, so I'm inclined to believe that was an homage. It gets a little silly at times, but in general it is a positive influence on the movie's total score. Overall, this one's really just okay. It lacks the memorable acting performances and gore of Silent Night, Deadly Night, and just didn't quite have enough money to do everything as well as I'm sure they'd have liked to. I can really only recommend this one to fans of slasher flicks, and particularly fans of the Santa Claus slasher sub-genre. So check it out if that sounds like you.