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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Night Life (1989)

The movie kicks off with a teenager prepping a body at a mortuary. When he goes to take the leftovers out to the biohazard dumpster he sees some of the cool kids from his school necking in the parking lot. They notice him after me makes some noise and sure enough start to bully him in front of their ladies. This continues to the next day but Archie, the bullied kid, decides to play a joke on them with some frog’s legs from biology class. This leads to them to pranking him back causing Archie to lose his job and with that his college money.

Don’t feel too bad though as his uncle Verlin, who fired him, hires him back. It seems that there has been a big accident involving a chemical transport and a car. Sure enough it was the bullies and their ladies who were killed, but not until after getting a chemical bath. Things happen including Archie’s gal pal Charly leaving town, him being forced to prep his classmates for their services, and the lightning strike that knocks out the phones and puts the compressor for the freezers on the fritz.

Oh yeah, the lightning also brings all the dead assholes back to life. They get a second chance to torture Archie as well as kill anyone that comes near them. Soon Charly is back in town, her plans didn’t work out, and the pair of them are forced to flee from the undead homicidal teens. This leads to multiple attempts to destroy the monsters, a car chase, and of course them realizing that they were always really in love with each other. Hey man this is an eighties flick!

For this review I watched Night Life on VHS. Which is probably the only way to do so since I don’t see that it has had a proper DVD or Blu-Ray release. I could be wrong but I didn’t even see a hyper inflated used copy online for sale so that is normally what that means. That may also play into why I never knew that this movie existed and I’m a child of the eighties as well as being a huge horror nerd. Then again, I was prepared to watch something that would explain why I had never seen this before, or in less nicer words I thought that the movie was going to suck.

Honestly, this is a fun movie. The story is very familiar and checks all the horror/comedy/teen boxes that movies like Night of the Creeps or Return of the Living Dead established as must haves. Just to be clear this movie isn’t as good as either of those as they are the gold standard that set the formula Night Life is trying to follow. While I admit the story is a bit uneven leaning heavily into the teenage shenanigans and comedy in the first two thirds and then going exclusively horror for the last third rather than mixing it together throughout, I did enjoy both. The tonal change was a bit abrupt and annoying but the characters were fun and the payoff from the zombie teenagers was satisfying.

Axe to the noggin'... good times
Scott Grimes of Critters fame is our lead Archie. He is playing the same kind of character that he did there and basically everywhere else I’ve seen him. Nothing wrong in being typecast if you are good at it and he is very good playing the sarcastic and eventually heroic type. John Astin is Uncle Verlin and is his normal awesome self. It is a smaller part but he steals every scene he is in. Anthony Geary (UHF), Darcy DeMoss (Friday the 13th part VI: Jason Lives), and Lisa Fuller (The Monster Squad) all appear as well. This is a solid cast.

The gore isn’t over the top and plentiful, but we get some good gags. There is a broken neck, a torn throat (offscreen), a dude gets shot, and old Uncle Verlin gets inflated until he pops. There is also some gruesome violence done to the zombies with some cringeworthy preparation including sewing up of lips and some head twisting. There is also a hand thru the chest, an eye gets popped out, and my favorite an axe splitting a noggin’. All in all, it was decent.

I’m not the sort of person that throws around “lost classic” as those are quite rare. This is a solid “B” movie that I’m guessing either folks have forgotten about or maybe the rights are somehow tied up in knots that companies don’t think are worth sorting out. Either way if you are lucky enough to find a copy of Night Life it is worth you time to give it a watch. I know that I’ll be checking my copy out again.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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