Release Date(s)1980 (October 21, 2014)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox/MGM (Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: C
To All a Goodnight is another in a long line of 80’s slasher movies (a phrase that I’m sure I’ve used more than once around here), but in this case, I’d consider it to be one of the schlockiest and least put together of the slashers that I’ve seen. That’s not to say that I’m an expert on the genre or anything like that, but this is a film that truly plugs in the clichés that its genre is known for while also managing to be fairly incompetent in its final form... which couldn’t write a more delicious recipe for a good/bad movie experience.
To All a Goodnight was directed by David Hess, his one and only directing credit for a movie as he’s more familiar as an actor to the grindhouse crowd with memorable roles in The Last House on the Left and House on the Edge of the Park. The movie was also produced and written by Alex Rebar, who is known more for his acting duties in the title role of The Incredible Melting Man than anything else, and the movie stars Jennifer Runyon, who most people remember as Jennifer in the opening moments of Ghostbusters. The movie was one of the first slashers from the 80’s to use a killer Santa Claus as the killer along with Christmas Evil, which was also released in 1980, and Silent Night, Deadly Night, released in 1984.
For a slasher movie, it’s a bit light on the gore, despite the involvement of special makeup effects wizard Mark Shostrum; and even the gore that IS on display isn’t impressive. That’s the least of the movie’s problems though. The actors, while giving it their best, have some incredibly odd delivery of incredibly odd dialogue most of the time. And it doesn’t help that the editing choices feel more like mistakes that hardly anyone with this kind of distribution would make. Certain scenes just don’t cut well together, and characters’ personalities and motivations change from scene to scene. But somehow, even with the awkward edits, weird dialogue, and scenes that don’t make any sense at all in the context of the movie as a whole, I discovered it to be one of the more entertaining slasher movies that I’ve seen recently. I found myself laughing most of the time at how poorly constructed it was.
So despite the movie’s quality, or lack thereof, it has that ‘so bad that it’s good’ charm to it that I can see myself recommending to other horror fans. It has so many surprisingly bad moments in it (one of which being an appearance by porn star Harry Reems) that seeing it with a group of friends over Halloween is definitely recommended. It certainly isn’t on par with something like Things, which is quite possibly the most confusing movie ever made, but it’s fun, and that’s all I really want out of a slasher movie anyways.
To All a Goodnight is also a movie that’s been changing distribution hands for years, so it’s amazing that the Blu-ray presentation of the movie itself is very impressive. After languishing in VHS hell for years with a completely muddy, full screen presentation, fans of the movie will be pleased the most with this new transfer. There’s a heavy grain structure throughout the movie, but never to point of interference. Detail is quite amazing when it’s properly in focus, as are skin tones and shadow detail. Color reproduction is very good, as are the black levels. Contrast and brightness are quite balanced as well. You won’t find much film damage on display, except for a few specks here and there, and there doesn’t appear to be any over-zealous use of digital noise removal. The disc’s only soundtrack, which is an English 2.0 DTS-HD track stemmed from the original mono, is adequate without being amazing. Dialogue is mostly clear, but sometimes difficult to discern during the quieter parts. Sound effects are merely decent, but the score works itself into proceedings fairly well. There isn’t much in terms of atmosphere or dynamic range either, resulting in an overall thin soundtrack, for the most part. It’s by no means a complete mess or unlistenable, but it’s not overly impressive either. It gets the job done, more or less. Unfortunately, there are no subtitle tracks to choose from.
The extras selection is pretty straightforward. You get three separate interviews (Kill Nancy, an interview with actress Jennifer Runyon; Killer Santa, an interview with actress Katherine Herrington; Killer Writer, an interview with writer/producer Alex Rebar) and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Being how this has been buried in obscurity for quite some time, getting anything at all as a supplement is a good thing. The interviews are pretty good, and it’s interesting to see a red band type trailer that nearly gives the entire movie away.
But the thing to remember about To All a Goodnight is that it was shot in ten days with little to no budget behind it and a first time director, which should give you a bit of an idea of what you’re in for. It’s a movie where the focus puller tended to fall asleep, most of the women in the movie are out of their minds with sexual desire, and a nerd turns into a leading man after losing his virginity the night before. Add to all of that a mysterious killer whose identity a teenager could figure out, and you have To All a Goodnight. It’s a movie that was buried and is now rescued thanks to the good folks at Scorpion Releasing. This is a release that, if you’re a slasher fan, I recommend you check it out.
- Tim Salmons