Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Children of the Night (1991)

Children of the Night is a gory, slimy, and largely unnoticed vampire movie that has sadly slipped into obscurity despite its availability on DVD.
A catholic school teacher teams up with a priest, a teenage girl, and the town drunk to save a town that has been completely overrun by vampires. The vampires in question go to sleep inside mucus covered cocoon-looking external lungs that come out of their mouth before bedtime and envelop their entire body. They are quite ugly.
Filmed for $12 million in small towns in Michigan and Wisconsin, this movie focuses more on atmosphere, darkness, campy humor, and gross special effects than on scares or coherent plot. It seems more inspired by films like The Lost Boys and Monster Squad than the older, darker vampire movies. Despite its R-rating, it’s a fun, nonsensical 90 minute ride through teenage vampire movie land, but with a professional look and feel to it.
The cast is a who’s who of cult icons. Peter Deluise of 21 Jump Street fame plays the school teacher. The young Ami Dolenz, daughter of The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, is the female lead, Karen Black is a vampire, and the wino-turned-hero is played by Garrett Morris, one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live in the 70s.
The director, Tony Randel, was involved in the Hellraiser series having directed Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988), co-wrote Hellraiser 3, and did some editing work on the original Hellraiser. He also directed Ticks (1993), and Amityville 1992: It’s About Time (1992). He got his start in the early 1980s on Roger Corman productions such as Galaxy of Terror (1981), Space Raiders (1983), and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980).
This film was the first of four movies that Fangoria Magazine helped produce through their Fangoria Films production company. The other three were less notable, such as Mindwarp (1992), Blood Drive (2004), and the cheesy Severed Ties (1992). Fangoria Films made better use of their company as a DVD and home video distributor of independent horror and continue to operate to this day. I highly recommend the Irish zombie movie they released, Dead Meat (2004).
I was less than surprised but a little disappointed to find mostly negative reviews for this film online, but then again most internet horror movie review sites are nothing more than soap boxes for the angry little parents’-basement dwelling D&D nerds of the world. If all you like to do is tear apart fun loving movies like this one, then maybe you should just watch TV instead. These movies were not made by the people who bullied you in high school!