Archive for the 'To All A Goodnight (1980)' Category

18
Dec
19

To All A Goodnight (1980) or Why Is There No Holiday Orgy at The Finishing School?

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“Lock your door, too. I want you to be safe, Nancy. There’s evil here, I can feel it. The Devil’s here.” – Ralph the Caretake, To All A Goodnight

Merry Trashmas, Gang! Man, there’s nothing that gives me the warm fuzzies this time of year like huddling in front of the dumpster fire, roasting rats over an open flame and popping in a classic holiday themed horror film, of which, there is a veritable plethora to choose from. There’s one I’ve always tried to make it through, however. But the bootlegs have been so terrible, I never quite made it to the end due to me being unable to make out just what the Hell was happening through the dark, muddy pictures. It’s a slasher film from 1980, right when the slasher film boom was really taking off entitled To All A Goodnight. It’s a Christmas slasher which takes place at a finishing school for girls over the holiday break. So, having seen a slasher or two over the years I know exactly what to expect. Women bickering, some tits and ass and good, old fashioned splatter. But what really caught my attention was that this film is directed by none other than Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left alumni, David Hess! Yes, the man of a million exploitation horror flicks. If there’s one guy who knows how twisted the horror genre can be, it’s David Hess, so naturally, my imagination soared and my expectations grew…

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Prolific exploitation horror actor David Hess, how could this man NOT make a great slasher film?

With the recent release of an official blu-ray I decided to finally hunker down and give To All a Goodnight a go. And, man…it’s a pretty stripped down and bare bones affair, almost a prototypical slasher film with all the trimmings you’ve come to expect. The isolated location, a holiday setting, teens getting laid, smoking the wacky tabacky, the old crazy harbinger who warns of impending doom, inept law enforcement and a handful of red herrings. Even in 1980, the rules were just about commandments chiseled in stone where just about literally anyone could follow the formula and make a slasher formula that would make it’s money back and perhaps some profit.

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But, I digress, what To All A Goodnight lacks in originality, it makes up for it with an absolutely inept script, hilariously bad effects, and some actors that are either chomping the scenery or are lost without a map which makes for one of those peculiar viewing experiences where you are fully aware that what you are watching is sub-par, but you cannot look away because the film is littered with preciously stupid moments of non sequitur that are just as funny as they are baffling. It’s all these little misfires from a first time filmmaker that make To All A Goodnight such an interesting watch, even if it’s not a hugely successful piece of Trash Cinema.

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To All A Goodnight begins with a an inciting incident taking place two years ago where a girl is chased through the finishing school by her classmates chanting “SORORITY! SORORITY!” while wearing Santa hats. She runs out to an upper balcony and looks genuinely afraid of her fellow girls in finishing, before she leaps from the balcony when startled, turns into an obvious dummy, hits the ground and dies. The sequence literally takes all of 90 seconds and is so shoddy it looks like a backyard movie made one Sunday afternoon by bored teenagers.

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The leftover residents at Calvin Finishing School For Girls, which consist of five ravenously horny girls (one with an accent) and one younger girl who has never been kissed and is played Jennifer Runyun, you know, the woman who played Female Test Subject in the original Ghostbusters that Dr. Venkman calls a “legitimate phenomenon”? Yeah, this was her very first film and is the obvious final girl. There’s also a motherly figure in the cook who is looking after them as well as a tall, blonde, harbinger of doom who creeps around the enormous mansion these lucky girls inhabit carrying a huge bare of gardening sheers and constantly telling the girls the pray and that he can sense evil in the house. There’s also this woman who drops by who proclaims to be acquainted with death after losing all three of her husbands. She show up, drops off some cannoli, mentions how everything dies and then vanishes into the night never to be seen or heard from again.

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Mystery Girl

Oh yeah, and there’s one other girl who doesn’t eat dinner with the other girls and has no lines. She is seen in her bedroom stripping nekkid for a fellow in the yard yelling her name repeatedly. They are both stabbed to death by the killer quickly, quietly and without much fanfare. Again, the super cute blonde nekkid girl basically gets nekkid, gets dressed, goes outside smiling and is stabbed immediately without uttering a single line or being mentioned, ever, by the rest of the girls. Anyway, thanks for the mammaries, mystery girl!

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So, the fiery redhead among the group has a fuck buddy who is super wealthy and flies in for the weekend at the finishing schools private runway under the cover of darkness. This rich guy is so thoughtful he brings along a batch of studs with him to entertain the other girls as well. But, wouldn’t you know it, there’s only enough for the experienced girls, Nancy the virgin is left out entirely. If only they had brought the pilot with them up to the house, who is played by none other than legendary porn actor HARRY REEMS! You may remember him from Deep Throat!  The only genuine talent in the whole film and he is hardly in it. Gent had MORE than enough to entertain all the ladies up at Calvin House. Now THAT Would have been an entertaining movie…

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Harry Reems, here to stuff those stockings!

Cut to the the den of this stately mansion and one of these jocko’s is playing a guitar and can’t sing worth a shit and everyone is sitting around not talking, not looking at one another, as if they’re ashamed to be there. It could be pre-orgy tension, but I have a feeling it’s just dreadful direction and bad actors. Quick sideline, can someone tell me WHY these slasher flicks don’t contain orgies or group sex of any kind? These people sit around, bored out of their minds, yet obviously horny and willing to swap partners (which becomes apparent later in the film), so why, if you are in a tight space filled with other horny folks, do you not just drop your drawers and starts getting it on with the whole crew? Then again, I guess then you can;t pair people off to be killed around the property…maybe this is just my own personal preference/fantasy. Well, enough about me…  The boredom doesn’t last long as one character has her throat slit by someone in a Santa costume, and two more are murdered using a crossbow and an ax wielded by someone dressed in a suit of armor who had been watching them diddle one. The killer had to stand there, perfectly still, for hours just hoping someone would come fuck in front of them, and then would have wait for the ideal moment during the pork session to strike. Talk about commitment!

As the sun rises the survivors have a casual breakfast and seem to not give a shit about their vanished comrades. They’re too busy basking in the afterglow of one another’s late night pee squishing to care about almost half a dozen missing people. Even the cook who is watching over the girls seems nonplussed by the fact that there are now boys here she is having to cook for, too. It’s not long, however, before the virignal Nancy, while being chased around by a nerdy guy in glasses who wants to bang her, trips over the bloody, bug eyed corpse of Ralph the caretaker, whose body shoots up out of the shrubs like a goddamn whack-a-mole! It’s so close to being a moment of genuine shock, and in it’s cartoon lunacy has all the trappings of a true bit of nightmare imagery, but it left me with only giggles.

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The cops are called and everyone is told to stay indoors and look the doors and windows and there is a rift between the survivors. Some are sure that the missing members of the posse are surely dead, too, while the others refuse to believe they are in any real danger whatsoever. So, the swap fuck partners, some go outside to die, others go upstairs to fuck the cops and then strip nekkid, giving us full frontal, and when confronted with dead bodies, severed heads and a knife wielding killer Santa which SURELY spells dismemberment for the victim only leads them to put on a kimono and begging dancing and singing around the house. Huh?

And it’s all down to the final girl and nerdy boy to fight for their lives against the blood thirsty Santa Claus in the labyrinthine mansion. There are some twists and turns that even the most unversed horror fan will see coming a mile away, but it’s still quite a bit of fun watching To All A Goodnight stumble, fall, get up and then trip over their feet again as they hurtle themselves towards the film’s climax.

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It’s no wonder why David Hess never made a full length feature again because it looks like he had a tough time crafting this awkward chunk of strange, alas, his legacy will always be a captivating rape/revenge exploitation film heavyweight. The narrative of To All A Goodnight is all over, the dialogue is clunky, the gore effects are phony, but you get the feeling everyone is giving it what they can and no one really knows just what the Hell they’re doing, which gives To All A Good Night a sweet sort of homemade quality to it, which I really dig. There a nice couple moments of ladies getting nekkid with a bit of full frontal, which always helps liven things up, but the whole this is such bizarre hodge podge of tropes that were all, just at that moment in time, beginning to coagulate into the slasher formula that it nearly feels like a spoof…only it’s never intentionally funny, although unintentionally hilarious at times.

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To All A Goodnight is a Trash Cinema oddity, one worth checking if you are curious or a completest and might test the patience of the general movie going public. But for those of us who can see the bright side of a chunky, clunky, forgotten slasher film, To All A Good Night provides some holiday sugar to help was down the boring parts.

I’m awarding To All A Good Night TWO AND A HALF out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




Dumpster Diving

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