Halloween Horrors 50 for 31: Night Fright

October 15, 2012 at 6:59 pm Leave a comment

Finally, for the first time in my 50 for 31 series this year, I get to do a movie that was made in the good ole US of A. I don’t know if 1967’s Night Fright will fill Americans with an increased sense of patriotism. This movie should be filed under the could have been on MST3K file. It has many of the elements of movies that appeared on that show such as day for night shots, lighting changes from day to night in the same scene, cheesy monsters, and John Agar.

 

Night Fright is a low budget creature feature which were all the rage in the 60’s. There were a ton of these movies following Creature from the Black Lagoon. Many of them did find their way onto MST3K years later. Some that immediately come to mind are Horror at Party Beach, Monster A-Go-Go, and Attack of the Eye Creatures. They all follow much the same plot, mixing sci-fi with monster elements to appeal to some kind of audience. There are a ton of movies just like Night Fright, none of them being well received or fondly remember. Which makes me wonder why there are so many movies with these similar themes? Did anyone notice that they kept on pumping out the same type of terrible movies and did anyone think of trying to do something different with the genre?

 

Sadly, Night Fright doesn’t try to do anything different with the genre. We start out being told on the radio that a rocket crashed deep in the heart of Texas. A young couple dismiss the info, keep making out in their car, then get killed. How many of these creature features open exactly the same way? Sheriff Clint Crawford, played by John Agar, wants to get a closer look at the crash but “dem government boys” won’t let him. Meanwhile, Chris picks up Judy from the sorority house and they go for a romp through the woods. The pads out a good ten minutes of the film, at least. They eventually stumble across the slaughtered couple from earlier in the movie. Of course, we see none of this blood bath, it’s just talked about. The actors sell it like they just saw a grizzly slaying. It still seems like they were too cheap to show us any gore.

 

From there, a newspaper reporter and scientist show up. They are really just props in this movie who don’t warrant description. The reporter turns into the Sheriff’s errand, doing some of the Sheriff’s grunt work that he doesn’t want to bother with. The scientist provides and exposition dump near the end of the movie which describes much more interesting scenes that we wish we had scene instead of been told about. Then we meet Rex and his group of friends. Swinging teens looking for a place to party. They just happen to want to party near where a rocket crashed and a monster is on the loose killing people. This is a concept so cliché, it really has no impact anymore. For some reason, in the party scenes, the director lovingly does repeated close up on one girls rear end. When the swing hip cats find a way around the Sheriff’s security detail, Chris goes out to warn them out the danger lurking in the woods. But not before he finds a Deputy who has been killed.

 

These party scenes are were they use day for the night mostly and as usual, it doesn’t work at all. In the scenes with Chris driving out to the lake to warn them, its pretty clearly day, then at the party it’s day for night. I don’t know who ever thought this technique worked for shooting outside at night without lights but for anyone who has watched a lot of b-movies, it clearly was never effected. It’s shocking how often it was used in spite of day for night’s ineffectiveness. When Chris arrives at the party, his part of the field is day. Rex, who is having too much fun to call the party off, is in night. It’s pretty amusing to watch these two argue from different times of day.

 

We don’t get to see much of the monster until later on in the movie. When we do see him, he is not very visible, shown mostly in very dark lighting. One may think they did this to build suspect and take attention away from how ineffective the monster costume was. Jaws did this to great effect. I don’t think they were that on top of things, though. More than likely, it was just a poor job done in the lighting department. If they used any lights at all in this movie for the outdoor scenes. The monster really is nothing more than a guy in a gorilla suit with a strange head piece. It was more intimidating when you don’t see the monster then when you do see it. They do find a creative way to kill the monster.

 

One impressive thing about this movie is it has a score, written by The Wildcats. Best I can tell, The Wildcats are just one guy. The music works in some places, not in others. In the last twenty minutes of the movie, it can get pretty grating. The monsters theme gets repetitive to say the very least. However, they were on a shoestring budget, it’s impressive they were able to get a score at all. Other b-movies weren’t so fortunate.

 

Really, there are a hundred movies just like this. There isn’t really anything that sets this movie apart from other low budget creature feature. Not to say it was a horrid movie. Just very similar to other movies of it’s type. Some of Night Fright’s mistakes in film making are good for a laugh. I don’t know if there is enough here for a good riffing. Which is probably why it never appeared on MST3K. Bad movie fans will appreciate it. General audience will probably find it boring fairly quickly. If b-movies are your thing, give it a watch, otherwise I’d say stay away from Night Fright.

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