I Haven’t Seen That Guy In Years

A long-dead star from the early days of cinema returns to rack up a bloody body count when his estate is invaded by greedy land developers and party minded college kids in 1987’s Terror Night….. a film released in 2004. Keep reading. I’ll explain.

Veteran actor John Ireland (The Incubus, House of Seven Corpses) stars as “Lance Hayward”, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the 1920’s and 30’s. After becoming disenchanted with the industry, Hayward left Hollywood, but not before buying up the rights to all of his films. Hayward would resurface a few years later to sell the television rights to his films for a multi-million dollar sum, but quickly disappeared from the public eye once again. Hayward was rumored to have fled to Europe to have spent his final days, but there was never any official declaration of his death.

As the film opens, property agents, including Grizzly Adams‘ Dan Haggerty, are meeting at Hayward’s long abandoned estate to discuss a potential sale. Despite Hayward having not lived there in decades, the place is still attended to by a security guard (as played by Gilligan Island‘s “Skipper”, Alan Hale). Little do all these men know, but an interloper watches from the cover of some nearby bushes.

There is little wait for the blood and guts to start spilling as the assailant kills a couple of the men in gruesome fashion, featuring one victim tied between a tree and the bumper of a moving car. However, this scene, as with most of the film’s “kills”, are intercut with clips from various old black and white films (here presented in sepia tone). These are joined by scenes of cards featuring colorized still shots from these old films, almost like lobby cards. Both of these decisions would possibly play a role in the film not being released.

After this scene, we are introduced to a group of college kids looking for some exciting way to spend their evening. Two of them are huge Hayward fans, and convince their friends to join them in crashing the Hayward estate before it is eventually sold and torn down. A young biker couple out drinking in the woods near the Hayward estate get the same idea. Aldo Ray also shows up as another faded star of the silver screen, now a homeless drunk living in the woods near Hayward’s property, but doesn’t stick around for very long.

The college kids make their way to the estate, quickly discovering the biker couple mid-screw. Soon, they are hunted and killed one by one by someone lurking around the property, and in the fashion that they would have been dispatched by Hayward’s most popular characters. This includes being whipped and slashed by a Zorro-like character, hacked by a knight’s axe, and led into a tiger trap by a safari hunter persona.

There is a neat decapitation effect (that is completely given away on the the DVD cover art). However, while the majority of the “kills” are quite bloody, most aren’t as grisly as the opening evisceration death. It is worth noting that while the decapitation takes place against a white wall, there is noticeably no blood splatter left behind mere moments later.

While there is absolutely no secret that the murderer is “Hayward”, the person shown actually doing the deed is very much not Ireland. In fact, it’s actually 2 different actors, one of whom is Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers star Jay Richardson. This is explained away by saying that Hayward wears various facial appliances that he himself creates. However, the excuse is given and never really developed, which is unfortunate as it may have added a unique approach to the killer’s methods.

Ireland finally appears in the film’s bizarre final act, as does an unwell Cameron Mitchell (Nightmare In Wax, Flight to Mars) as a rather accusatory detective. Cameron Mitchell doesn’t get the chance to do much with the role, and Ireland gets in a few kills before the film concludes with a hallucinatory version of Shakespeare’s Othello. Despite receiving the top 2 billing spots, Ireland is in the film for maybe 10 minutes, while Mitchell’s screen time is less than 5 minutes.

Besides the aforementioned stars of yore, Bloody Movie also features a few noticeable faces among it’s younger stars. The film’s main stars are the young Hayward fans, played by William C. Butler & Staci Greason, both of whom reappear the following year as a doomed couple in 1988’s Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood. Horror fans may also be aware that Butler has gone on to become a successful writer, director, and producer, usually specializing in horror films and children’s television. He’s also the creator of Full Moon’s Gingerdead Man series, so depending on your point of view, he’s the man to thank/blame.

Head Chainsaw Hooker Michelle Bauer gets decent screen time as the biker babe, and is accompanied by Sorority Babes co-stars Carla Baron and John Stuart Wildman. Look for Ken Abraham of Creepozoids in there as well.

Bloody Movie (aka Terror Night) was directed by Nick Marino. While this was the only film directed by Marino in his career, he did serve as a producer on John Saxon’s (Zombie) Death House, as well as co-producer on Chainsaw Hookers. In 1990, Marino sued Paramount Pictures for the screen writer credit on its upcoming release, The Godfather Part III. By early 1991, no one would want credit for that film.

As mentioned in the opening of this review, the movie was filmed in 1987 under the title of “Terror Night”. However, due presumably to the film’s abundant use of clips from early films without having first securing the rights, the film never saw release. There is also some rumor that the film was financed with mob money, but allegedly so were most of Robert Evans’ films and they still saw release.

It was retitled and released to DVD in 2004 by Fred Olen Ray’s Retromedia label. While I do not believe that any of the film was edited out for this release, the DVD does feature a new computer generated title card, as well as some early narration that may have been added in.

While Bloody Movie features more than a few massive gaps in logic and fairly limited suspense, it still serves up a nice dose of dumb, bloody, 80’s fun. It really is a shame that “Terror Night” never saw its originally planned release, for if it had, there is a solid chance that we might now be talking about it as one of the cult favorites of that era.

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