It would be really easy to sit here and talk about the things in Night Screams that went wrong. So much of it isn’t very good technically. But it was 1987 and slashers were drifting away from the theater and were popping up more and more as direct-to-video efforts. It was an interesting time in the genre because filmmakers without a lot of technique or experience had a better shot of getting something produced and at the same time the same inexperienced filmmaker still had to have some of his wits about him because everything, for the most part, was still being shot on film. That meant things like blocking, lighting, effects and so on had to have a lot of care given to them.
It’s obvious that the writers of Night Screams were trying for something a little more original. A lot of the basic elements remain – a violent person released from a mental institution, a party at a desolate house, sexy hijinks, etc,… but a new element was added. Not only was one of the young party goers probably a notorious killer, but two escaped convicts were also stashing themselves away at the party. An interesting twist that is never fully realized, it’s still kind of neat little crinkle in the normally straight-as-an-arrow plotline.
It won’t take the viewer long to figure out who the guilty party is – one obvious clue is given away during the first set of murders. Still, do we really watch these movies for a twisty turvy mystery? Uh, if you do, then you’re probably really disappointed a lot! These kinds of movies are made to titillate, gross you out or hopefully, scare the pants off of you… Night Screams doesn’t really do any of these, but I’m giving them points for trying and I’ll tell you why… At the beginning of the movie the filmmakers inserted random scenes from Herb Freed’s chaotic slasher Graduation Day. The scenes are interspersed as its own movie so you never mistake it for part of the story. It’s a cheap way to add a bit of gore, but at least the filmmakers knew theyneeded more than what they had at their fingertips. They must have felt this way about the nudity as well because in a couple of scenes, random footage from a John Holmes porno appears! At first, it works because two of the characters are watching an adult movie, but then they go for a sexy sauna bath and a weird scene featuring a woman taking a shower appears! This footage was obviously taken from a 70s flim and it’s hilarious. So random! Still, I thought it was a fun idea.
Last, but certainly not least, the opening credits of Night Screams list about 4 actors and then introduce the Sweatheart Dancers! They showup in one random scene, dance and never cross the screen again! I love it. Their glittery sweatshirts were amazing!
So yeah, Night Screams isn’t all that good. However, it is entertaining. Maybe it’s more of an endurance test than other so-bad-they’re-good movies of this ilk, but still kind of fresh and fun. It might not be groundbreaking stuff, but it’s a pleasant diversion forthe discerning slasher fanatic.