Night Ripper 1986 Review
Night Ripper 1986
Directed by: Jeff Hathcock
Starring: James Hansen, April Anne, Larry Thomas
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Just when I thought it was safe to go back to my video recorder… After surviving the nonsensical 90 minutes of Nail Gun Massacre intact, I realised that still lurking on my shelf was the wonderfully daft and longing to be viewed Night Ripper…
I noticed at the time of writing that there’s no information concerning this flick’s existence anywhere on the web, which either means one or two things: 1) No one has ever bothered to waste any time on it, or 2) I’m probably one of the select few in the world that’s actually seen it. Try searching out a copy to buy, it’s virtually impossible – this one’s become as rare as a Britney Spears hit single.
Movies that are so bad that they’re amusing are one of cinema’s greatest achievements, because they provide an unintentional form of comedy that has been created from the pure stupidity of a crew that probably set out to make a masterpiece and got a little lost in the enthusiasm. Attempts like Camp Blood and Don’t Go in the Woods are prime examples of such asininity, but do they actually make you laugh? It’s certainly comical to see how brainless a gang of filmmakers can make themselves appear, but they don’t actually provoke fits of laughter, do they? That’s where Jeff Hathcock’s slasher comes in to its own. This one made me bust into paroxysms of chuckles on a fair few occasions. Everything from the script (“This isn’t love, this is two sweaty bodies f***ing under a flood lamp!”) to the camcorder-like cinematography (The footage from my niece’s first birthday party is clearer) pushes Night Ripper in to the endearing category of comedy gold.
A psycho that looks like he wears a home-made ninja mask is killing off models and surgically disembowelling them. Dave, a local photographer, becomes involved when a girl that he has pictured is killed and next his adulterous fiancée meets a sticky end via the mysterious maniac. As the murders get closer to David, could his new sweetheart be next on the maniac’s list?
Believe it or not, this could actually be credited with attempting to redefine cinema history. I bet that you can’t name another film where none of the cast members even bothered to act? Gill, the supposed leading lady is particularly awful. She manages to keep the same dumb look on her face throughout the whole of her screen time and adds about as much emotion to the role as would a wilting Great Oak. Her co-star is equally as unimpressive and they both reach the peaks of their short careers in one brilliant scene, which is so damn good I had to re-wind and watch it again. After Dave splits up with his fiancée, he goes to Gill’s apartment seeking comfort. After some of the silliest dialogue ever set to video (“I love you”. “That’s the nicest thing anybody’s ever said to me” etc), he confesses his affections for the straight-laced vixen. There’s nothing wrong with that you may think, but the funny thing was that they only met a day earlier and hardly even knew each other! Now who said that there’s no such thing as love at first sight?
You can tell from the off that this is a stinker. The horrendous sound led me to believe that there wasn’t even a boom mike (although I spoke to the actress that plays Jane and she assured me that there was) and the picture quality is – seriously – that of a camcorder. When a scene ends, EVERY single shot fades to black, which makes it look as if the editor finished his lunch and then chopped together the footage with a pair of garden shears.
To be fair, it looks as if Hathcock (who also directed slashers Streets of Death and Victims!) was slightly improving as the runtime grew and I must admit that the final chase sequence in the mannequin factory was showing a marked improvement on the rest of his wayward attempts. But there’s so much to laugh at that giving him credit seems totally outrageous. One ‘actress’ bumps into the camera whilst walking past and even when the director does try an adventurous shot from underneath a bed, he fails to notice the fact that the viewer couldn’t actually see anything. The music that accompanies the footage is priceless, boasting pure synthesizer monstrosities that would make Jan Hammer blush. It’s best described as a crazy mix of eighties disco (played badly) and the shoddiest of seventies porn soundtracks, which just about sums up the quality of a feature like Night Ripper.
Victims are rolled out like they’re fresh off of a production line to be slaughtered. Once we’ve accumulated who is going to survive, you can bet your bottom buck that the rest of the characters make an appearance only for execution. The killer supposedly disembowels the models and they’re found in quite a mess, but luckily for the producers we never get to see any of it. Nevertheless, some of the slashings were gory in a tacky kind of way, especially the opening murder and the one where a woman gets stabbed through the face with a kitchen knife.
The most surprising thing about this movie is that little old me in a flat in North London managed to get hold of a copy in the first place. I don’t even remember where I found it. It certainly wasn’t released in Europe and I can’t track any other traces of it down, anywhere. If there is another fortunate soul alive that has seen it – then please drop me a line. I’d really love to hear that I’m not alone in witnessing this classic slice of cheesy entertainment.
I have all the time in the world for movies like Night Ripper. Bring ‘em on…one by one…
Final Girl √