The Night Brings Charlie 1990 Review
The Night Brings Charlie 1990
Directed by: Tom Logan
Starring: Chuck Whiting, Al Arasim, Keith Hudson
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
So… The Night Brings Charlie… In the place where I grew up, it most certainly did. And still does, but that’s beside the point.
There’s an amazing true story about a guy named Terry Wallis, who on Friday the 13th of July 1984, after celebrating the birth of his first born child, was involved in a terrible traffic accident. He was seriously injured, lost consciousness and fell into a coma, which left the doctor’s giving him little hope of recovery. His family thought otherwise though, and every other weekend they would take him out to their farm and speak with him, in the hope that their voices would stir their relative from his slumber. Nineteen, yes nineteen years later and believe it or not, on Friday the 13th, he regained full consciousness and said the words,’milk’ and ‘Pepsi’ to his mother who was beside him at his bedside. What a fantastic tale and a great example of the strength of human spirit. He went on to make up for lost time getting to know his teenage daughter. Funnily enough, it took him a while to realise that it wasn’t still 1984.
Tom Logan’s slasher also comes across like it has been comatose for a while. Despite its 1990 release date, it looks and feels like it was produced no later than 1983. The success of A Nightmare on Elm Street saw obvious changes begin appearing within the slasher genre, but none of those updates can be seen here. It’s like the last seven-years never happened for the crew involved in this one and much like Mr Wallis, they still thought that they were living in the early eighties.
A small town called Pakoe is being terrorised by a vicious serial killer. Sporting the traditional Southern loon garb of a lumberjack shirt and potato sack over his head, he is driving round late at night, killing youngsters and collecting their decapitated heads. The Police are stumped by the amount of teenagers left with spurting stumps, so they are put under huge pressure to bring the maniac to justice.
The only reason I wrote that this looks like it was filmed in ’83 and I didn’t go as far back as ’80 is because director Tom Logan has CLEARLY cut and pasted a scene from Friday the 13th Part III (1982). Three leather-clad bikers get chopped up in a barn by the hooded killer and the overall set-up is almost identical to the sequence from that Friday installment. In fact, many of the best parts of The Night Brings Charlie have been seen previously in either Halloween or Friday. There’s the old ‘killer seen standing by car and next look he’s gone’ chestnut and they chuck in a shower stalking sequence just to erase any of your doubts that you are watching a stalk and slash film. The final girl is the typical shy virgin type and they even remember the essential heavy-breathing POV shot.
The Night Brings Charlie is the movie equivalent of going on a date with a girl who shows you her breasts in the first ten-minutes, but then sits across the table from you for the rest of the evening and gets the early bus home. The opening murder is gooey as hell with a great throat slicing and a gallon of blood, but the rest of them are disappointingly dry and mostly off-screen. Also, whilst on the subject of breasts, what an outstanding pair one of the chicas has; and she soaps them lovingly for an extended period during the aforementioned shower part. This scene also plays host to the strangest product placement in the history of cruddy films. Do you take a can of fizzy drink with you in to the shower? No…? Well a girl does here. I enjoy playing the ‘guess who financed this movie’ game when watching low-budget flicks. If ever you see a car stuck behind a lorry that carries a massive logo in filmland, you know that there’s a marketing bod somewhere that is more hopeful than the crew that this movie is going to be a hit. Well Pepsi negotiated a strong deal with the producers of this particular slasher, because not only do we see a logo’d can in the shower when we’re looking at a far more attractive pair of cans, but we also see vending machines strategically placed more times than I could count in my drunken stupor. A spilt can of Pepsi even saves a girl’s life! How’s that for advertising?
Like a night at an elderly relatives birthday party, Charlie has moments that are painful and a few that are actually quite fun. The acting is stilted tosh, the script is most definitely a ‘first draft’ without any proofreads and the cinematography (or videotography) is as grainy as a sheet of sandpaper. Despite this though, Logan manages to chuck in a handful of minor jumps that are really well crafted and quite frequent. There’s also a hilarious scene where the killer alters the population number on the town’s welcome board with a piece of chalk after he has dispatched another victim. That’s the only one of the few attempts at homour that really works, because the main ‘comic relief character’ is more ghastly than laugh-ly. A boisterous lump by the name of Ella, she speaks openly about her bowel movements and states stuff like, “That’s the fifteenth person today who wants your nuts on a plate”. Pure class, eh?
As I mentioned earlier, the killer goes for the burlap sack dress code, but just to add his own stamp to the kit, he also sports what looks to be a pair of swimming goggles. (?!) There’s a twist in the story that’s ok and even if the runtime lingers on the edge of tedium, it doesn’t drag enough to make you want to turn it off. I am not exactly sure why, but whilst watching, I kept thinking of Twisted Nightmare from 1987. Maybe it was the barns? Or the boobs? Or the Pepsi cans? Or the bad acting? I can’t be sure, but something here most definitely reminded me of something there.
So should you rush out madly and spend a fortune hunting this one down? Quite frankly, no; – but if you come across it somewhere at an agreeable rate, you can give it a shot. Aside from an interesting killer guise and a few cans of Pepsi, there’s not much that you haven’t seen elsewhere and most likely handled much better.
Killer Guise: √√√√