Evil Night 1992 Review
Evil Night 1992
Directed by: Todd Cook
Starring: Holly Aeck, Joseph Fautinos, Spencer Trask
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
It’s always been intriguing for me how a clown can be one part children’s comic performer and one part icon of horror. Clowns are family entertainment personified, but would you feel comfortable sharing a dimly lighted alleyway with one in the early hours of the morning? That instantly recognisable figure has been used throughout the slasher genre almost since its birth. Rumour has it that Michael Myers would have worn clown attire had someone in John Carpenter’s wardrobe not found that iconic Shatner mask. It’s interesting how we can take the comforts of our youth and twist them into horrific imagery.
Evil Night continues the trend set way back in the annals of horror history, by giving its bogeyman the guise of a circus jester. Although the costume is unoriginal, movies such as the excellent House on Sorority Row and Stephen King’s IT have proved that if used correctly, such a figure can successively invade your innermost fears. Mixing the comforts of childhood serenity with the malevolence of a psychopathic imposter always seems to give horror fans the goosebumps and rightly so.
Here we have a clown killer story from Todd Jason Cook that treads the familiar territory of a bullied school boy that seeks revenge on those who have taunted him. In the opening we get to meet Jimmy Fisher (Spencer Trask), a high school geek that has a crush on the girlfriend of one of the school’s most popular rebels. Jimmy has been subjected to various humiliating taunts by the gang of bullies, so he has lost faith in the humanity of his classmates. However he is flattered and shocked when lead bully Peter (Joseph Pautinos) invites him to a party. Foolishly, Jimmy accepts the invitation and if you haven’t already guessed, it turns out to be yet another vicious prank. Humiliated and left unconscious in his boxer shorts, Jimmy finally loses his cool and sets out to seek revenge on those who have taunted him…..
OK so first things first, Evil Night was originally released DTV in 1992 and pretty much vanished in to obscurity almost immediately. After the popularity of the DVD phenomenon, Cook (Night of the Clown/Demon Dolls) gave his movie a second shot at recognition on a budget disk, which can be picked up from Amazon at an agreeable price. As I have stated previously in my review list, I am all for ambitious directors having a crack at making their own independent features. The beauty of the slasher genre is the fact that you don’t need a six figure budget to make a profitable schlockbuster. But keeping that in mind, this backgarden entry feels like an attempt to win the Indy 500 on a tricycle.
Do I respect Todd Cook? Quite frankly, yes. I envy him a bit too. Here we have a guy who loves horror movies and found in his wife Lisa, a soul mate who was so supportive of his ambition that she helped out in major ways with the release his five or six no budget movies. Their most recent effort, Zombiefied, picked up some real good press (review coming soon) and much like Dead Pit and others, mixed the zombie and slasher sub-genre’s together into something of a B-movie cocktail. Twenty years earlier when this was produced though, they had neither the experience nor the budget to deliver their visions and Evil Night is a tough runtime to sit through.
If you can accept the camcorder like quality of the picture and you are forgiving enough to ignore the rotten Thrash Metal soundtrack, then you will still struggle to understand how a movie can be produced without a logical concept. In fact the scenario seems to take place in a dimension where logic is an uncommon word. I searched and I searched, but all I uncovered was a screenplay that works along the lines of, ‘unknown guy walks in front of the camera, gets killed and then the scene fades to black’. Forget character development, because it’s simply non-existent. Cast members appear without rhyme or reason, as if they’re on a conveyer belt from a production line to be slaughtered. This makes Evil Night seem more like a collection of images than a film and despite some impressive gore effects, it rapidly loses its momentum.
You know, I was the first to post a review of this on the IMDB and it’s a film that few have seen. This is probably because watching Evil Night is almost an impossible mission. It lacks even the slightest of structures and there’s no pay-off in viewing the plot through to its conclusion. The cast sound like they’re reading their lines from the small print of a spam email and the most memorable slice of dialogue spoken throughout the runtime is, “Eric are you taking a dump again?” The whole movie looks to have been edited by a blind man with a blunt razor-blade and the lighting for the night scenes seems to have been provided by one of those pencil sized torch keyrings that you get in souvenir shops.
On the plus side, there are the imaginative gore effects that I mentioned and kudos to Clark for the creepy killer costume. However, his attempt to build a competitive Slaughter High imitation is suffocated by its stringent funding. I agree that it was made tongue in cheek to be watched with that in mind, but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit thorough. Even if I’m being mega generous, there’s absolutely nothing that I can recommend here. Bad, bad, bad and not in a good way, Evil Night is destined for obscurity once again….
Final Girl: √