A little something special for you today, folks—something from the “rare and unusual” file called Midnight Movie.
When I first heard about this one, I was actually pretty enthusiastic, mostly because of the plot description I’ll be sending your way in just a couple minutes. It looked like some kind of beautiful synthesis of early nineties horror film Popcorn and Dario Argento’s classic Demons. That kind of combination was plenty rare—I couldn’t think of anyone else who had even tried the meld before. And when someone tries something never done before, well, you’ve got my interest.
As for the plot description, well, here it is: there’s a midnight showing down at the decrepit Avenue theatre of the old horror film The Dark Beneath. It’s got quite a history, this one does—the writer / director was locked in an insane asylum where, mere days before, there was a rather sizable massacre. Said director’s corpse disappeared along with the others, and one lone detective believes there’s more to that story than meets the eye. The detective believes that the director will turn up at the midnight showing of The Dark Beneath, as it is to be the first showing in years.
And that’s when all hell breaks loose.
I’m not going to fault Midnight Movie completely here—they did a LOT right with this. It is fully standard eighties slasher fare down to the last detail; the cell phones that suddenly won’t work, suddenly unbreakable glass, suddenly being unable to signal or reach the outside world in any way, shape or form despite the necessity to violate the laws of physics to set it up like that. The villain is almost a hybrid of the big three—the hulking psychopath with superhuman powers who likes to talk about smelling fear every so often. There are plenty of couples covering all the ranges from cowardly to belligerent, and there’s even a BIKER in the mix just for added fun. If I had seen this back when I got started, back around 1992, I would’ve been AMAZED.
But sadly, this is 2009. I’ve got seventeen years of horror film skill under my belt and I can spot a plot hole from three feet out. This sucker is RIDDLED with them. For instance—consider how there’s a POLICE DETECTIVE in the audience at the movie when the first theatre employee is killed on screen. He talked to the employee. Showed the employee a picture, in fact. And yet, somehow, the detective has absolutely no reaction when said employee is killed on screen? Plus, our killer isn’t exactly a well-realized or well-thought-out character for a panoply of reasons that you’ll manage to get a look at throughout the movie.
On the surface, Midnight Movie is a scary idea brought to an equally scary life. If you don’t throw back the curtain on this particular Oz the Great and Terrible, well, then you’ll likely have a good time. But examine the print with any level of closeness and you’ll wind up sadly disappointed. There’s plenty of cigarette burns in this reel, folks…and they don’t mark the gooshy parts.