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The Night Brings Charlie

tn_nightbringscharlieslashersearchI tell ya, I’m as shocked as you are that a movie called THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE doesn’t turn out to be the great unknown slasher gem I’ve been searching for. I mean, people love a killer they can call by his first name, like Jason or Freddy. Informality = terror. And that’s what they got here, they got Charlie. It seemed like they thought of everything, but for some reason the world gave them the cold shoulder. I’m sure around ’88 they were kicking themselves that they didn’t call him Chucky and make him a killer doll and do a way better job.

(Oh wait – I just looked it up and this movie came out in 1990. Are you kidding me? As in the 1990s 1990? Incredible.)

From the director of “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” (unknown episodes) and written by the stunt coordinator of THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II comes THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE. Charlie (Chuck Whiting) is a Jason-esque silent killer, he wears overalls, a flannel shirt and a ski mask with goggles over it. We immediately see him slaughtering poorly acted teenage characters using various tools. He drives to and from his crimes in a pickup truck that says “Charlie’s Tree Service” on the side. It’s also a small town where everyone knows Charlie by name and we soon see that he openly wears the same horror getup in broad daylight while trimming people’s trees. So really the night doesn’t bring Charlie, Charlie was already there. It’s not until almost halfway through the movie that they mention oh yeah, he wears that mask because his face was fucked up in a “chainsaw accident.”

mp_nightbringscharlieThere’s a subplot about some teens who call people “fuddy duddy” and like to jump out of the bushes to scare each other the same day one of their other friends was sliced open like a baked potato. But in a rarity for this genre it mostly focuses on adults: the sheriff, who’s new in town and we don’t like his fancy El Lay ways, and the coroner who’s also the worried father of two teenage girls.

There’s a funny twist that I’ll just go ahead and spoil. They catch Charlie. The coroner, who has known Charlie since Saigon, volunteers to interrogate him and comes out with a full confession. But there are a few holes in the coroner’s story, one being that everybody knows Charlie can’t talk you dumb motherfucker. It’s almost worse that you would insult our intelligence so bad than that you murdered all those teenagers. So the sheriff confronts the lying bastard and he immediately admits that yes, he has been getting drunk and going out and murdering, and that’s why he got Charlie to come back into town so he could blame it all on him. And he’s sorry about it and just glad that it’s all over.

But wait! Where’s Charlie? What, you guys let him go? But I thought you understood! Charlie is also the killer! Yes, I did some of them, but he’s crazier than I am. And now he’s loose!

At the beginning there’s a town sign that says they have a population of 1251. Two murder scenes later there’s a joke where Charlie crosses it out and changes it to 1250. I thought this was a lame joke made worse by a lack of basic math skills, but maybe it’s actually the first clue that there are two Charlies. He was making an honest effort to keep the figures accurate, he just didn’t know it was down to 1249 already.

The “kills” aren’t very imaginative. I wish I’d been keeping track of how many movies I’ve seen this month where somebody taps somebody’s shoulder from behind and the head falls off. Maybe the weirdest touch is when he’s spying on a girl taking a shower and she spills Diet Pepsi down the drain, a little homage to PSYCHO. Well okay, I like PSYCHO too, but I couldn’t get past the girl having a can of Diet Pepsi in the shower. What’s that about?

I hope I’m making clear the difference between a slasher movie like this and, say, a FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel. People might call the acting and script “bad” in something like that, but it’s actually very polished compared to the bottom of the barrel shit I’ve scraped up this year in my Slasher Search. These are not just “bad,” they’re amateurish, unprofessional, inept, homemade, clueless. They don’t have the production value of a studio movie, but more importantly they don’t have the chops or vision of a great low budget independent like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, THE EVIL DEAD, PHANTASM or even FRIDAY THE 13TH. They’re pretty much just mistakes by people who either underestimated the tastes of horror fans or overestimated their own skills as filmatists. They’re failures, but sometimes they’re good for a laugh, and I got that out of this one.

If I don’t end up finding any gold in this search then at least I can provide a service to some of you who still have video stores in your town that stock obscurities like this. If you’ve passed this one up as many times as I have now you have confirmation of your suspicions. The cover art is very professional though, I’ll say that for it.

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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 26th, 2009 at 10:32 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

25 Responses to “The Night Brings Charlie”

  1. It does look professional.

  2. I’m 95% sure that this came recently out or will soon come out as R2 DVD. At least I remember seeing the cover and the title not too long ago.

  3. Hi Vern, I’ve heard some great things about a film called Hospital Massacre (AKA Be My Valentine) released in 1982. Also a slasher-in-the-woods excursion by the name of The Prey from 1980. Also, I am 142% in agreement with your appraisal of Candyman. Intelligent, scary and driven by an inescapable sense of impending tragedy. Its just such a strangely melancholic and romantic horror film. It kicks the shit out of Urban Legend anyway, that’s for sure. Keep up the great work!

  4. I’m going to guardedly recommend “Bloody Murder 2”. Haven’t seen the original, but it does seem like they were trying to top something stupid here. This sequel is very self-aware, while trying to stick to the rules of the genre. Its a 2003 film though and I’m not sure how you’ll feel about that.

  5. “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” was one of my favorite mid-afternoon sick-day shows ever. It was like Cops, but on less of a budget, and featured mostly roadside drug busts. The best part was that, unlike Cops, sometimes the perps ran… and got away! And the host who introduced the clips looked and sounded a lot like John Vernon. They didn’t have a memorable theme song like Cops, though, I think that’s why it wasn’t as popular.

  6. I watched another one of these “Wow, making a slasher movie is harder than it looks” specials this weekend: The Majorettes. It’s pretty much as crappy as a movie with that title has any right to be, but it gets better as it goes along because there’s just so much more shit going on than in your average hack-n-slash. For about 20 minutes toward the end, it turns into a Death Wish-style revenge movie that has nothing at all to do with the guy who’s running around in deer-hunter camo slicing up the color guard. I didn’t see that coming, so I guess that’s a good thing. Also, it’s directed by Bill Hinzman, the O.G. zombie from Night of the Living Dead. He’s a better zombie than he is a director, sadly.

  7. I watched the first scene of Bloody Murder. I remember when it came out because it was pretty notorious in them ripping off Friday the 13th but without any gore. The opening is so terrible that I never bothered watching the rest.

  8. Vern, watch DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE post haste and get out of this bad-slasher funk you’ve been on. OK, so he uses a flame thrower and doesn’t slash anything, but this movie is still the goods.

    PS. “THE NIGHT BRINGS CHARLIE” is an amazing title, regardless of the movie’s apparent quality.

  9. BLOODY MURDER 1 & 2 are both to be avoided, especially the first one. It is a nearly bloodless, very cheap looking, generic FRIDAY THE 13TH ripoff, only it came out post-SCREAM so the characters make inane references to other horror movies.

    The sequel does add in some blood and nudity, but it’s just as asinine.

  10. I’m just saying that Bloody Murder 2 made me laugh once or twice. It is formulaic in the extreme and probably if you watched a lot of these things, you’d be more critical than I. Still, might be a nice palate cleanser from the more incompetent who’s doing what now? slashers that’ve been reviewed lately.

  11. I do not second Don’t Go in the House. Well I guess it’s probably worth viewing once for an historical perspective. Those people that were discussing rape in film probably wouldn’t enjoy this one.

  12. Does he ever actually rape anybody? I thought he just flamethrowered chicks because he couldn’t get it up? (SPOILER)

  13. I’ve always wanted to have a DON’T marathon, showing all of the horror movies that start with DON’T. There would be:

    DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE
    DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT
    DON’T GO INTO THE WOODS
    DON’T OPEN THE WINDOW
    DON’T OPEN THE DOOR

    Probably others too. Man, it seems I can’t do anything.

  14. Yeah, I also think Don’t Go In The House is a must see. Yeah, it’s sorta just another Psycho knock off but they actually get you to sympathize a bit with the killer (so it’s more like Psycho than most of the knock offs). Worth it for the disco scene. Also, the scene where Donny goes clothes shopping.

  15. Also, I don’t remember any rape in DGITH either, but my memory isn’t what it used to be.

  16. There’s no rape. Unless you include tying a naked woman up and burning her to death rape. Which I don’t, personally.

  17. Pepsi in the shower? Yeah, that’s just odd. IOn the positive side, we can credit the filmatists for having the good taste to not use Mountain Dew.

  18. Diet Pepsi is a bit odd but I’ve been known to enjoy a good beer in the shower in my day.

  19. Drinking beer in the shower is your right as a goddamn American (or whatever the fuck you are).

  20. Canadian, but I’ll take it. The right to a nice cold beer in a nice hot shower is universal, I say.

  21. lmao, who drinks soda in the shower?

  22. I wrote this movie “The Night Brings Charlie” and was the stunt coordinator also. Thanks for writing about it. It was a long time ago but sure was fun to do.

    Bruce Carson

  23. Feel free to stick around Mr. Carson. You might be able to add some nice perspective on filmatism.

  24. Now I feel bad. Hope the review wasn’t too harsh. I had fun watching it at least, which was not the case with many of the ones I watched in my “Slasher Search.”

    So you did stunts on Nightmare On Elm Street too? That’s pretty damn cool. Thanks for posting.

  25. I was one of the production assistants on “Charlie..” Also was in a couple of scenes as Charlie’s body double. Worked as the Foley Artist during audio post production. Long time ago. Fun times.

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