Despite the fact that I've written many, many negative reviews in the past, when I sit down to watch a movie, I do hope that the experience will be satisfying. From the latest big-budget blockbuster to an unknown independent, I want every movie that I watch to be good. Take Evils of the Night for example. When I read the synopsis for this movie, I thought to myself, "I've never heard of this movie, but even if it's awful, it should still be worth watching." As it turns out, I'm just the kind of sucker that the makers of Evils of the Night were looking for.
How do you describe a movie that doesn't really have a story? Three aliens, Cora (Tina Louise), Zarma (Julie Newmar), and Kozmar (John Carradine), have come to Earth to find a substance to help save their species. They've found that the blood from humans aged 16-24 will do the trick. They hire two local mechanics, Fred (Aldo Ray) and Kurt (Neville Brand), to bring them young victims. These unfortunate souls are then brought back to the abandoned, yet brand new looking, hospital where the aliens are doing their dirty work. Despite the fact that it's summer break and the locals college kids have gone home, Fred and Kurt have no trouble finding victims on a nearby 50-sqaure foot lakefront beach. The two mechanics have no qualms about completing these nefarious acts, as Cora is paying them in gold coins.
The above description actually gives the movie's plot way too much credit. Even if you went into the film armed with this knowledge, you would still have trouble putting together a truly cohesive story. It's not surprising to learn that Evils of the Night was co-written by a writer of porn films. Along with the characters described above, we are introduced to several twenty-somethings who will soon fall prey to Fred and Kurt, but we learn little about them, save for the fact that most of them are quite horny. These characters go sit by the lake in various states of undress and ramble on about inane topics and then get grabbed by the mechanics. As for the aliens, well we don't see that much of them, and when we do, they are complaining about how they haven't gotten enough blood.
Evils of the Night does more than border on camp as the aliens question why they hired Fred and Kurt, who keep damaging the merchandise, while the young people all question why they would go camping by the lake. The movie reaches its low-point (and that was a tough decision to make) when we essentially watch the same scene twice as two victims attempt to escape and go through the exact same motions.
From the lack of a story we jump to the technical aspects of the film. It could be said that movies such as Halloween and Se7en have a "dark look", as the filmmakers involved in those movies chose to have an absence of light in the movie so as to convey a certain mood. With Evils of the Night, the movie is simply dark. The bulk of the movie takes place at night (hence the title) and for the most part, it's nearly impossible to tell what's going on. I can only imagine that when it came time to film, director Mardi Rustam said, "Light, Camera, Action!", as it looks as if each night-time scene was shot with one spotlight. Whenever an actor wanders away from that light, they disappear into the darkness. (This effect could have actually been creepy if the movie didn't suck so badly.)
The "aliens" are simply actors in silver outfits, with the females wearing crazy shoes. The "spaceship" is just a disco light ball being lowered through the trees. The film's premise makes it sound as it would be quite violent, but there are only two bloody scenes, and both are quite fake. However, the first half of the movie does contain an inordinate amount of nudity and sex. In fact, there's a scene featuring porn actors Amber Lynn and Jerry Butler (here going by the name "Paul Siederman"). These two characters add nothing to the story, but they do hump for several minutes.
The young people of today may not understand what low-budget horror films were like in the 80s, but Evils of the Night is a quintessential example as it follows a time-honored recipe. First, find some washed-up actors with recognizable names. Second, come up with a vague but easy to remember title. Third, add some T & A. Voila, you've got a drive-in movie. However, most films of this ilk typically fall into the "so bad they're good" realm where one can perform a Mystery Science Theater 3000-like commentary to the movie. Evils of the Night is so pointless, boring, and difficult to see that it's ponderous nature will scare off even the hardiest fan of trash cinema.
Evils of the Night is abducted onto DVD courtesy of Shriek Show/Media Blasters. The film is presented in a full-frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio. I have no information on the original aspect ratio of the film, but knowing that it was shot in the early 80s on film, it would be fairly safe to assume that a theatrical release of some sort (again, probably a drive-in) was expected, so the OAR could have been 1.78:1 to 1.85:1, but again this is only speculation. I didn't notice any panning & scanning of the image. But then again, the picture is so dark, I may not have been able to spot this. I don't recommend tinkering with a film's original look, but the picture is so dark here, some kind of brightening would have been greatly appreciated. The blacks on the image simply blend together and only the objects directly in the spotlight can be seen. Even the daytime shots are a bit dark (as if it were constantly overcast). A theatrical print was used for the transfer (the "cigarette burns" are visible) and there are some minor scratches on the image. The colors are OK, although they look washed out at times. Oddly, grain is kept to a minimum.
As bad as the video is, the audio is even worse. The DVD features a Dolby Digital mono audio track. But it left me wondering, is there anything less than mono? Gramaphone? The audio here is incredibly muffled and distorted and no amount of adjusting my receiver could improve it. I had to turn the volume up about 25% louder than I normally do and could just barely make out what the characters were saying. At times, the audio has an echo. At first, I thought this was meant to represent how the aliens heard things, but no, it was just crappy audio. The dynamic range is out of whack as well, as the sound effects are much louder than the dialogue. I'm going to give Media Blasters the benefit of the doubt and assume that they did the best that they could with the audio, but they would have been better off scrapping the original dialogue and dubbing it.
The Evils of the Night DVD only contains two extras. There is a Photo Gallery which contains four examples of promotional art, and a very brief Trailer.
Take a good look at the DVD cover art for Evils of the Night (which is taken from the film's original poster) and you see the definition of an exploitation film. We see a buxom blonde whose blood is being drained from her body by tubes as skeletal hands reach for her and a quartet of skeleton-head aliens look on (as the cousin of the Millennium Falcon flies past). Of those things, only the buxom blonde appears in the film. Don't be fooled by the trashy goodness that this movie promises. This movie gives bad movies a bad name.