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Monday, August 20, 2018

Graveyard Shift (1990)




Time for some old school Stephen King fun. Here we have a movie that is based off one of his short stories from my favorite book, Night Shift, and features some rats. It is surprisingly decent and expands the short story into a feature length flick much better than I thought it would.

Our main character is John, a drifter looking for work. He takes the night shift, aka. the graveyard shift at a textile mill running a large machine. Even at that time of night it gets very hot and the place is infested with rats. Plus, John is replacing a man who died under some mysterious circumstances. The man who runs the mill, Warwick, is ordered to clean the place up and get rid of the rats or risk being shut down. He offers overtime for a few special workers over the fourth of July holiday if they will clean out the basement. John gets tossed into that mix as a “reward” for stopping Warwick from beating on his girlfriend to a pulp in front of the town.

Clearly things are going to go sideways, it is a King story after all. It seems that the mill has a huge nest of rats living under it. Including one large one that is mutated beyond imagination. That is what happens when you have critters feasting on the bodies from the cemetery next door and that have developed a taste for people. This doesn’t bode well for the graveyard shift cleaning out the basement. Things get really ugly really quick.

For the most part this is a fun movie. The characters are well written and while predictable are still enjoyable to watch. Stephen Macht does a great job as Warwick, the bully of a boss that thinks he owns those that work for him. You either work for his mill or you don’t have a job! He uses this to bed many of the women who he employs. Not a nice guy that meets a satisfying end, though not before getting one final bit of nastiness in. Brad Dourif plays a minor character called the Exterminator. He basically pops in and out of the movie to talk about rats, Vietnam, and drop a few one-liners here and there. Seriously this guy is awesome in everything, including Graveyard Shift. I was bummed that his character meets such a lame end.  Other than a pre Wishmaster Andrew Divoff there isn’t much else to say about the cast.

The cast is cool. Needed more Dourif! 
The movie is paced decently, though there is a bit of a pause in the action between the first kill and when things really get rolling. We get some character development which makes what happens later more interesting. But it does drag just a bit. Again, I was impressed that they managed to make a feature length movie out of the short story. Much of the slow spot is the filler added in to get the proper runtime.

There is one thing that really disappoints me about Graveyard Shift. They miss out on tossing gore at the viewer. We do get on arm getting gnawed off (really dude you stuck your arm in the freaky hole in the wall?) but that’s about it. We get a lot of deaths by rats, both normal and supersized, but most of it happens just off screen and we are only treated to sounds and some blood dripping on screen. The creature design was decent, so I know that they could have done some more work with the gore, but don’t. I love me some blood and guts, so this was disappointing.

I hadn’t seen Graveyard Shift in many years, but I remembered liking it. I think that I still do, but I can see why it hasn’t ever been a movie that I have a desire to watch over and over again. Now had they tossed some decent gore in I’d be down for watching it every October in my Halloween marathon. As it is I’ll probably not watch it again for another ten years. Cool in some ways, but very disappointing in others.


© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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