Mars (and Mars Productions) needs teenage blood in Mardi Rustam's bottom-of-the-barrel 1980s body count pic EVILS OF THE NIGHT, restored in high definition on Blu-ray/DVD combo courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome.
It's summer vacation, but why leave town when you can make out by the lake? The kids dumb enough to think that are being abducted by skeezy mechanics Kurt (Neville Brand, EATEN ALIVE) and Fred (Aldo Ray, HAUNTED) as unwilling blood donors to a trio of doctors – Kozmar (John Carradine, FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND), Cora (GILLIGAN'S ISLAND's Tina Louise), and Zarma (BATMAN's Julie Newmar) – who are actually aliens who need platelets to extend the lifespans of their elders. The aliens' preliminary research suggested that a quiet college town would be the ideal location to procure young blood. Unfortunately, the data did not take into account summer vacation so there is a particular shortage of youngsters other than townies. Paying off two incompetents to obtain their victims is also looking to be a poor choice since their violent impulses have damaged some of the donors beyond use. Of course, no one seems to notice the many missing teenagers until engaged couple Heather (Bridget Holloman, SLUMBER PARTY '57) and Ron (Keith Fisher) vanish; and pals Nancy (Karrie Emerson, WHITE DOG), Connie (G.T. Taylor), and Brian (David Hawk) may not be smart enough to figure out what's going on before they themselves wind up exsanguinated.
Coming across like a rejected script idea for a 1950s or 1960s low budget "aliens menace teenagers" movie subsequently reworked for the slasher boom (already waning in 1985 but it may have been started earlier), EVILS OF THE NIGHT could not even charitably be described as "dumb fun." The comedic aspects of the scenario are strained enough to seem unintentional rather than parodic with dialogue between the aliens that should raise a chuck falling flat and the antics and repartee of the teenagers coming across particularly tiresome. Surprising for the slasher genre is that the characters who fight back the most are the ones who get killed (two in particularly brutal manners) while the final guy and girl are the ones who incapacitated the longest. The intercutting of some simultaneous action throughout the film serves only to draw out the parallel events rather than engendering any suspense (particularly during the climax where cutaways to Heather trying to escape the hospital make it seem like as though it takes several minutes for Brand to walk across the small garage). Carradine – a long way from even bit-parts in films like THE HOWLING – is a trooper as usual, Brand is particularly menacing when threatening the main girls with rape and Ray seems sober for the most part, but Louise and Newmar seem particularly awkward and embarrassed (the main trio of youngsters give adequate performances and are suitably sympathetic).
Porn stars Amber Lynn (THINGS) and Jerry Butler (ROOMMATES) pop up in scenes self-contained from the main action to provide some T&A by intercutting their love scene with clothed make-out session of Fisher and Emerson. Crystal Breeze (LIQUID DREAMS) and Shone Taylor (LADY DYNAMITE) do the same during the opening in a scene intercut with the love scene of the other uncredited couple (who do not strip down). Robert O'Ragland (Q: THE WINGED SERPENT) provides some orchestral and electronic noodlings, but much of the score is made up of eighties New Wave ("Boys will be boys, they have always been this way…") and a sickeningly sappy love ballad ("Your touch, has made everything right, when we turn out the light"). Editor Henri Charr would helm PLEASE DON'T EAT THE BABIES for Rustam, although that project would be recut and reshot into the incoherent patchwork ISLAND FURY (available from Dark Sky Films in a double feature with BARRACUDA).
Released on tape by Lightning Video, EVILS OF THE NIGHT popped up on DVD through Shriek Show/Media Blasters in a fullscreen transfer in 2006 and then in an anamorphic transfer from Dark Sky in 2014 a few years after their other Mardi Rustam titles (EATEN ALIVE and PSYCHIC KILLER) and the film's TV version as a bonus (more on that below). Just two years later, Vinegar Syndrome has reissued the film in a Blu-ray/DVD combo from a new 2K restoration of the film's original 35mm camera negative. The newer 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC widescreen transfer is matted to 1.85:1 but shows more picture information on the sides and slivers more on the top and bottom. The film can only look so good as the night scenes are still underlit with a couple poorly focused shots, but the skintones also look healthier compared to the sunburnt oranges ones of the Gorgon. The mono mix is represented with a clean DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the addition of an isolated score by Robert O. Ragland (in Dolby Digital 2.0) reveals just how much the film's mood is dependent on the score – not one of Ragland's best – and a persistent cricket track. English SDH subtitles are also included.
As with the Gordon disc, the Blu-ray's major bonus is the inclusion of the film's television version (92:47) which runs almost nine minutes longer than the theatrical cut (85:10). Despite the complete removal of the scenes with Lynn and Butler as well as the scenes featuring Breeze and Taylor intercut with the other opening sequence couple and severe trimming of the film's violence, the television version is actually the more coherent cut of the film with a different sequencing of events with the scene in which Kurt and Fred are introduced occurs much earlier with the guy they dispatch in the garage (who also gets a more substantial introduction at the lake with his panty antics) and the introduction of the aliens takes place after the beach sequence introducing the main characters. The comic gags are also extended, making them seem less abrupt (while making poor Connie seem even more gullible), and Carradine communicates with a hologram image (HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS' Dawn Wildsmith) telling him that the commuter ship is coming to pick them up in an exclusive scene.
A couple other extensions also provide some additional clarification (the strange dome-like thing that "attacks" Billy (Tony O'Dell, CHOPPING MALL) on the beach in the opening is revealed to be a trash can dumped over his head by the mechanics while the thing that waves briefly into the edge of the frame during the attack on his girlfriend in the water is the arm of one of them rather than some barely glimpsed alien presence. It may be possible that the TV version represents something closer to the original assembly rather than something compiled afterward since the "Boys Will Be Boys" song is replaced here with the equally jaunty "That's Alright" which one of the two songs actually listed in the opening credits (the other being the aforementioned sappy duet "Every Night"). Presumably the change was made with the removal of more benign beach frolicking and its replacement with some more cheesecake nudity (including a topless sunbather lotioned up by porn actress Jacy Allen). It is too bad that the only source for the TV version is a 1" video source rife with analog video artifacts as a composite of the scenes and arrangement of the TV version mixed with the nudity and violence of the theatrical version might have resulted in a more satisfying edit.
Rustam appears in a brand new interview "Alien Blood Transfusion" (9:26) in which he recalls that discusses his decision to direct the film, its inspiration from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (of all sci-fi pics), how the budget grew with the "name value" of Tina Louise and Julie Newmar (he initially mistakes John Carradine for David Carradine), his appreciation of union cinematographer Don Stern (HOME SWEET HOME), and how Aquarius Releasing's Terry Levene handled the promotional materials. He does not touch upon the reshooting and re-editing of the film and only briefly mentions Amber Lynn. While cataloging the film and video elements for the feature, the rights owners discovered three 800 foot reels of outtakes. Gorgon included a short selection of highlights (6:23) while Vinegar Syndrome appears to include all of them (24:26). It is unfortunate that the sound elements could not be found as they include quite a bit of blown takes featuring Carradine, Louise, and Newmar (no soft porn inserts sadly). They are silent but accompanied on the VS disc by selections from the isolated score. The Gorgon disc included a video trailer (1:10) in poor quality while the Blu-ray includes a "Work-in-Progress Theatrical Trailer" (2:28) that is raggedly edited but does feature a couple optical variations of the title card on space backgrounds. The film's TV Spot (0:32) appears to have been cut down from the aforementioned trailer. The back cover mentions a reversible cover, but the inside is a panoramic still from the film. (Eric Cotenas)
BACK TO REVIEWS