Hell Night: Collector’s Edition

| January 1, 2018

Scream Factory’s 2018 release slate is set to impress right out the gate with the January 2nd Blu-ray + DVD Collector’s Edition release of the early 80’s slasher gem, Hell Night (1981)—a film I’ve been dying to see someone put out on Blu-ray for far too long. Though few outside the horror community are likely to have seen or readily recall Hell Night, it’s a film that many a video store-frequenting teenage creep like myself remember with great fondness from our youths. With The Exorcist’s Linda Blair in the lead role, Hell Night’s rich atmosphere, constant emphasis on dread, and legitimate frights make it an must-see, if underappreciated entry from the early years of the slasher. (Underappreciated outside of cult horror circles, that is!)

Hell Night follows a group of four fraternity and sorority pledges—Linda Blair among them—forced on Hell Night to stay in a dusty old manor where a family was slaughtered by their patriarch twelve years earlier. And, so the legend goes, the monstrously deformed survivor of the massacre, Andrew Garth, still stalks the grounds. At least that’s what the pledges are told before being locked inside by their would-be frat brothers. Of course, said frat brothers return later that night to terrorize the pledges who’d clearly much rather be flirting, fornicating, or doing drugs, and also to pad out the body count. Unfortunately for the terrorizers and terrorized alike, the legend of Garth Manor is very much true as the monstrously deformed Andrew indeed still haunts the grounds.

Now that may sound like a stock horror flick, but it’s far more visually stylish and expertly-paced than you’d find in some cash-grab by filmmakers merely looking to capitalize on a trend. Written by Randolph Feldman (Tango & Cash) and produced by Bruce Cohn Curtis, who had previously worked with Linda Blair on 1979’s Roller Boogie and the TV movie Born Innocent (1974), Hell Night is a classy fusion of the then-burgeoning slasher model and classic “old dark house” tropes. It at least stuck with viewers well enough over the years that the Scream Factory website-exclusive limited edition release with poster is already sold out!

Scream Factory’s release of Hell Night is as special feature-packed as any I’ve ever seen from them, loaded with new featurettes and interviews with actors Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Vincent Van Patten, Suki Goodwin, Kevin Brophy, and Jenny Neumann, as well as director Tom DeSimone, Bruce Cohn Curtis and Randolph Feldman. Releasing such a beloved cult film with such an incredible amount of bonus content sets a standard for Scream Factory’s 2018 releases that they’re going to have to work mighty hard to live up to throughout the year. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where they go after this.

The only potential drawback to this release for some would be that the transfer of Hell Night wasn’t sourced from the camera negative, which is missing, but instead the best surviving film elements: a somewhat incomplete archival 35mm print. What’s missing from the print are small passages of the film that Scream Factory reincorporated from a standard definition source, and that material is honestly less obtrusive than it sounds given how insignificant the missing segments are. Sure there are some scratches and the standard definition footage is of an obviously much lower quality than the rest of the print, but Scream Factory clearly did a lot of work in color correction and restoration to make the film look as best they could with what they had. At worst then, the transfer emulates the experience of seeing a really vibrant print of Hell Night as you might during some late-night revival screening, which is a plus in my book!

Additional special features on the release include audio commentary with Linda Blair, Tom DeSimone, Irwin Yablans, and Bruce Cohn Curtis; trailers and TV spots; and exclusive to the Blu-ray disc:

  • NEW “Anatomy of the Death Scenes” featurette with Tom DeSimone, Randolph Feldman, make-up artist Pam Peitzman, art director Steven G. Legler, and special effects artist John Eggett
  • NEW “On Location at the Kimberly Crest House” featurette aith Tom DeSimone
  • NEW “Gothic Design in Hell Night” featurette with Steven G. Legler
  • Original Radio Spot
  • Photo gallery featuring rare, never-before-seen stills

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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