Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blockbuster Trash: Midnight Movie

Never let it be said that I have a problem with good or clever ideas.  There never seem to be enough of them out there, so I applaud any time that I see them.  However, when you use the same clever idea, my reaction is not quite the same.  While not as disingenuous as actually stealing ideas, copying an idea and then acting like you've not heard of the original use is just insulting.  Take, for example, the makers of The Last Broadcast, a really well-made movie with a shit ending.  The whole thing is a pretty blatant copy of Cannibal Holocaust- one that would also show up in The Blair Witch Project and Welcome to the Jungle- so, naturally, the makers acted like they've never heard of Holocaust.  Yeah, I buy that!  You self-funded your own 'lost footage' horror film, but you've never heard of the most famous film to do that?  I cry 'bullshit' on that one!  This brings me to today's film: Midnight Movie.  For all intents and purposes, this movie is Lamberto Bava's Demons, if the film-within-a-film was Three on a Meat Hook.  Not the most original idea for a movie,- obviously- but it could have promise.  Do they deliver or just leave you wanting some Italian horror?  Get out your evil film negative for my review of...

The film begins promisingly enough in a mental asylum with a crazy patient and the world's worst therapist.  His patient is a film director who's gone crazy and thinks that he's a character from his one and only film.  Naturally, the guy thinks that the best therapy is to let him watch the movie!  Why don't you just hand him a loaded shotgun or a box full of dynamite, dumb-ass!  Sure enough, the guy does some sort of weird ritual and kills the doctor with a P.O.V. shot.  Man, those are always deadly!  Throughout the credits, we see that the hospital staff was killed in a bloody manner and we see the first glimpse of our 'Dr. Loomis,' played by a cop here.  Don't worry- it goes nowhere.  We cut to a movie theater playing the movie made by the crazy director.  They address the fact that the guy killed the staff of a hospital five years ago (nice time jump, by the way), but they're playing the movie anyways.  They explain that the theater owner is too cheap to buy new movies.  Um, wouldn't the film by a famous serial killer be a collector's item worth hundreds or even thousands- especially considering that it only exists in film reel form?!?  My logical reasoning aside, the theater fills up.  By fills up, of course, I mean we get four people and a pair of bikers.  The film begins and, boy, is it something...
 The film-within-a-film is a really generic slasher movie full of hippies.  They didn't really make those kinds of movies in the era where you would have hippies, but, whatever.  Our 'teens' are laughing at the film, which annoys the biker guy in the back.  Yes, don't interrupt this shit.  The cop also from before also shows up, joined by a psychiatrist from earlier.  I sure feel safe now, don't you?  The movie starts to become real as the killer from the movie kills the concession guy in the basement.  For no clear reason, once the guy is killed in the basement, he appears on the film and is pulled into the film's basement.  You want to explain how this works, movie?  No?  Okay then.  Just to note, this happens when our lead heroine is outside due to some sort of traumatic event from her past.  Don't worry- nothing really comes from that either.  This happens again with the 'annoying movie nerd' character.  Hey, movie- not cool!  The 'teens' finally realize that something is up, but they think that it's a gag.  This makes for an interesting plot point until you actually think about it for three seconds.  They go to check out where he was and find blood on the floor.  They still think that it's fake until the cop instantly identifies the blood.  Wow, who needs a science lab when you have a plot point.  The people try to leave, but find that the doors are bullet-proof.  Explain, movie- explain!!

When they finally figure out the truth, it's a bit too late.  The killer manages to take out the rest of the theater staff and chases our heroes upstairs.  One of the women gets her hand stuck in the window when it closes and the cop makes a stand.  Yeah, he gets killed after putting up almost no fight.  You suck as our 'Dr. Loomis,' mister!  The body count rises as the biker guy gets killed, as does his lady friend.  Man, I'll miss you, guy who looks like Bass from 'Dead or Alive.'  Eventually, the crew gets whittled down to just our heroine, her boyfriend and her brother- who was supposed to not be there.  The boyfriend makes a big show about how the guy can't hurt you when you don't fear him.  About ten seconds later, he walks into the room & gets a drill thrown into his face and dies.  How amazingly-pointless.  In a bit related to the remaining characters' past with an abusive father, they do the Lord's Prayer and aren't afraid.  This still gets them knocked out and thrown into the movie.  We see many other people from the asylum and the theater, apparently establishing that the film is some sort of limbo.  Yeah, I don't buy it or care at this point.  Our heroine makes a big show of fighting back, runs out of the film house and finds...the ending credits appearing.  The brother manages to get out and the police have no evidence to support any murder claims.  They also take the film reel with them, setting up a sequel that will probably come soon enough.  The End.

This movie kind of sucks.  I wanted to like it a lot, but I heard nothing but bad things about it.  I put off seeing the movie for a while for that reason...and boy, I should have.  The plot is nothing to write home about, basically playing as Demons- just with less logic.  I get the whole 'the movie becomes real' thing, but how does it make the doors bullet-proof?  How does it make the windows invulnerable?  How does it randomly go from the movie to reality to the movie again?  How do the individual negative have sentience and the strength to turn the projector back over and restart themselves?  How exactly does this purgatory state work?  The problem is that the movie is so generic that you have nothing but time to think about stuff like that.  You can get away with plot holes like that in a movie that's entertaining, since you'll be too busy laughing/cheering to care.  In this film, they stand out like sore thumbs.  Actually, that's not direct enough.  The only thing that would stand out more is if the movie just stopped at one point and had to be restarted a la Return of the Killer Tomatoes.  Seriously, this movie could have just been a decent Demons knock-off and been passable.  Instead, they had to just pull stuff out of their asses and ruin it.  I can only hope that maybe Midnight Movie 2 will be better.

Up next, the 'Living Dead' theme wraps up with the granddaddy of them all.  It sound like two different films that it's not even in the same league with!  Stay tuned...


  1. Ive been putting it off for the exact same reasons, and your review didnt help the film's case. Will be watching it inevitably on Netflix, but I am going to pass on the buy

  2. Ugh, I bought it right before I got Netflix... it's not good when you're laughing at the slasher.

    "I smell...fear."