David Hess was no stranger to the world of celluloid horror when he stepped behind the camera for his directorial debut (and swan song as of this printing). As an actor he made us cringe as Krug, the scariest of the hoodlums featured in Last House on the Left and his rapist take on Of Mice and Men in House on the Edge of the Park left our jaws dropped firmly on the floor. So he must have seemed a perfect choice for the ill fated To All a Good Night.
This film is mostly known among horror completists as one of the first slasher flicks to feature a killer Santa. A sorority house is closing down for the holidays but a few of the horny young ladies have stayed behind, tempting fate by drugging their house mother and inviting a few of their male friends to stay the night. The lascivious horde of femme fatales is anchored by the innocent-girl-next-door Nancy (Jennifer Runyon). In fact she is the only one the retarded groundskeeper (i.e. red herring #1), Fast Ralph (Buck West) can tolerate. But now the group find themselves isolated from the world as an axe-wielding maniac in a Santa suit slices and dices his ways through the cast.
To All a Goodnight is ridiculous in every respect yet it’s pretty enjoyable. On the outside, it may seem poorly shot and acted (except for the beautiful Jennifer Runyon who has sadly disappeared from the scene) though the body count isn’t bad and the ending holds an interesting twist. But dig a little deeper and read John’s interview with Mr. Hess and you’ll see a set plague with problems. Hess certainly cannot be blamed for all of the film’s mistakes.
But viewer beware, if you’re not a fan of slice and dice To All a Goodnight can become tedious and sometimes it’s a challenge to make it to the next kill. Things liven up when a sex starved police officer gets a bit close with one of the sorority sisters, but that’s well into the last half of the film. This movie was meant to be enjoyed with a group a friends who can get each other from one death to the next.
So why do I want to give Mr. Hess a second chance in the director’s chair? Krug scares the hell out of me!