Midnight (John A. Russo, 1982)

posted in: Duane, Jocelyn, Review | 1
A girl hitch-hiking away from her lecherous step-daddy runs afoul of some backwoods Satanists in this low-budget, pedestrian outing. Hardcore Romero nerds rejoice.

Duane: This is one that’s been on my “to watch” list for a while now, so admittedly I had some moderately lofty expectations. An inbred hillbilly devil cult carving up sluts in the name of Satan? How does one possibly go wrong? I should have known better when I saw the overabundance of plugs everywhere for Russo as having written the screenplay for Night of the Living Dead. Sure that’s a nice achievement, but if that’s all the guy has going for him we might be in trouble. That’s not to say that Midnight is particularly bad, I just found it to be a pretty mediocre outing. With Tom Savini attached to it as well as it coming out during the early 80s slasher boom, was I wrong to expect effects as awesome and plentiful as in Maniac or The Prowler? Sadly, Midnight really skimped on the grue in a big way. If you’re gonna put him on the payroll at least make use of his skill set.

Jocelyn: You couldn’t spit in this movie without it landing on someone involved with a Romero production; from the lead, Nancy being in Monkey Shines to one of the satanic brothers being none other than Martin himself and as you’ve  already mentioned Tom Savini, director John Russo, the familiar Pennsylvania locations, etc. Most people already know and loathe Russo for his NOTLD: 30th Anniversary Edition but he has a decently dysfunctional catalog of his own, blatant milking of his Romero associations aside.
I have to say the first 5 min was promising: a Mother teaches her kids that little girls caught in bear traps are actually demons taking human form so it’s best to sacrifice them to Satan (at midnight!), then a whole mess of catholic dogma and before I knew what hit me a drunken Laurence Tierney is trying to rape his step-daughter! This thing was oozing with potential before taking a hardcore nosedive into blandsville.

D: Holy fuck I didn’t even notice that was Martin in there. Good eye! Not only was this full of religious rhetoric as you mentioned, but extremely heavy-handed in the race relations message as well. They took great pains to make every white person in the film into some gun-toting hillbilly who won’t tolerate anyone associating with a black man, let alone giving a shit about a bunch of people going missing or turning up raped and murdered. There’s a bunch of other melodramatic bullshit thrown in for good measure as well, which made the film drag in certain areas.

Also: what the fuck is wrong with the people in Pennsylvania? They keep going on and on about how beautiful/hot/attractive Nancy is – does everyone need glasses? If you’re going to cast an actress in a film that is supposed to be a real head turner, try getting one that at least looks female. In the beginning I actually thought she was a young boy for a moment.
I was also going to say I was surprised to see Lawrence Tierney in this but then I remembered that he was in Bloodrage, so his standards couldn’t have been all that lofty. Incidentally, he was very entertaining despite being pretty wooden at times. I love that massive load of bullshit he tells Nancy’s mom about her coming on to him and all that after she fucked off. Classic.
J: Hey! I liked Bloodrage! Yea, the film certainly won’t win any awards but there are times when it’s suitably creepy. I do have a dislike for movies that portray crazies as incapable of doing anything but giggling like idiots; once or twice is ok but after 20 straight minutes of the shit I’m looking for a hammer to beat myself about the face and ears. The direction isn’t terrible but the movie suffers from well below par acting, an improbable and unrealistic plot and an incredibly low budget. I find it incomprehensible that this was first a book. I’d like to think that the book made more sense but from the reviews I’ve read it might actually be worse than the movie. All in all it’s neat if you’re a fucking dork who knows every cock-knuckle that ever looked at George Romero, but it’s certainly nothing worth tracking down unless you’re a hardcore 80s Satanism/Occult direct-to-video horror aficionado.

J/D: Midnight is an unexceptional slasher that came out at the right time to garner attention today, but is hindered by no budget and too much self-indulgent plot meandering. Recommended for the most patient and/or curious of viewers only.

Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:


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Jocelyn lives on 35 acres of woodland in an undisclosed Appalachian location. When not boozing it up or fighting the power she's tending her organic garden or collecting punk/soundtrack albums. Her best friends walk on 4 legs. She does not own a cell phone.

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One Response

  1. Probably my favourite horror movie of all time along with don’t go in the woods, Halloween!!

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