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Hell Night: Collector's Edition (1981) - Blu-ray Review

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Hell Night (1981) - Blu-ray Review

5 beersScore another one for the good guys!  Hell Night, being a fun-loving meditation on the very nature of gothic haunts and twisted terror by the man who brought you The Concrete Jungle (which I reviewed just last week)Chatterbox, and Reform School Girls, is finally back from the dead.

The celebration commences with screaming.  Wild and full of youthful folly, the sound of horror – or is that excitement? – fills the cold night on this college campus.  Hell Night has begun.  Full of secret tunnels and entrances into rooms, the mansion that the party eventually moves to is a haunted central focus of pure gothic mayhem.  The night – this night, THE night of Hell – won’t soon be forgotten either.  Four lives are at stake.    

After a bit of a delay, Hell Night finally arrives on 1080p thanks to Shout! Factory with a new 4k scan and extensive color corrections.  The results, in which standard definition shots have been inserted for a more complete version of the film than ever before seen is quite fantastic.  In fact, Horror Hounds and Gore-Gore Ghouls are STILL discussing the film and this release will only encourage the discussion and appreciation to soldier on. 

The simple truth is that Hell Night, directed by Tom DeSimone and written by Randy Feldman, is so damn effective at establishing the creepy feelings of terror that it feels ageless.  DeSimone, alongside actress Linda Blair who kills it here as a new pledge, establishes a new twist on the gothic horror film of yore that is both energetic and full of memorable characterization.  And what he does to combine slasher themes within a tale about a haunted house is pretty perfect.  It is no wonder then that Hell Night, full of pranks and reversals, has as BIG of a cult following as it does.

Shout! Factory, loading the release with NEW interviews and NEW retrospectives, honors fans of the flick with this release, their deluxe treatment of yet another cult classic.  It is an instant early and best release of 2018.

This screaming the film kicks off with is quickly subdued; it is due to the out of control party that has just exploded from within the fraternity house of Alpha Sigma Rho and spilled out onto the surrounding area.  Drunk students are everywhere.  And so are the empty kegs of beer.  This wild night cannot be contained.  And, for four new pledges, it will indeed be Hell Night, as they must spend the night in an old manor, complete with a murdering maniac on the loose.

Playing the shy Marti Gaines, Blair is one of the pledges.  She’s nervous and slightly unsure of herself.  The pranks and fabricated hauntings aren’t helping her unease either.  And – because she’s also a car mechanic (which blows the minds of the other pledges) – joins in on finding out the truth behind the pranks. 

The other three – Peter Barton as a young yuppie named Jeff Reed, Vincent Van Patten as surfer dude Seth, and Suki Goodwin as everyone’s favorite party doll, Denise Dunsmore – are as shallow as they come.  Yet none of them can deny – especially when the screams and the moaning occur AFTER the debugging has occurred – that this house is definitely haunted. 

Suddenly, the real deal – as was explained when the house’s history was revealed to all the party people – starts to play out in violent and haunted ways and the group, after all the pranksters are discovered killed, must face some tough decisions about the very nature of survival amidst a truly haunted house.  Heads will roll. 

Hell Night is now available to relive again and again thanks to Shout! Factory.  A warning?  Wear a mask while watching, as the Quāāludes are murder on the skin.

Hell Night (1981) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
101 mins
Director
: Tom DeSimone
Writer:
Randy Feldman
Cast:
Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Pray for day!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Why? Her behind is the best part. We should have kept her behind and left the rest of her."
Theatrical Distributor:
Compass International Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 28, 1981
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 2, 2018
Synopsis: As an initiation rite into Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity, four pledges must spend a night in Garth Manor, twelve years to the day after the previous resident murdered his entire family. Two of the pledges, Marti and Jeff ignore the rumors that the now-deserted mansion is haunted by a crazed killer, until one by one, members of their group mysteriously disappear. Could this be a part of a fraternity prank ... or is a demented former tenant seeking revenge?

Hell Night (1981) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- January 2, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD Copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Scream Factory’s new 4K scan of Hell Night’s original 35mm negative is damn impressive.  Colors are pumped up thanks to the color correcting.  Shadows are more defined than ever.  Interior scenes have depth and warmth and the exterior shots feel alive and vibrant.  There are textures in the clothes of the cast and in the greens surrounding the manor.  Overall, there is more vibrancy to what has previously been issued on 1080p.  The sound is presented in a thunderous DTS-HD Master Audio Mono that adds a bit more thump to some of the action scenes.  The aspect ratio of the release is 1.85:1 and, with some scenes being sourced from standard definition, the mix is not really that noticeable.

Here’s a note from Shout! Factory about their release: “We did an extensive search for the original film elements, but were unable to locate them. Therefore, this new transfer comes from a 4K scan of the best surviving archival 35mm film print of Hell Night. We did extensive color correction and film restoration to clean up any film damage. Because the print was missing some minor footage, so we have inserted a small amount of standard definition footage to deliver the complete film. We hope you enjoy this new restoration of this ‘80s horror classic.”

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Both the DVD and the Blu-ray feature the new audio commentary recorded by Linda Blair, Tom DeSimone, Irwin Yablans, And Bruce Cohn Curtis.  It is fantastic.

Special Features:

Score another one for the good guys and scoop up this release s soon as you can.  Everything is new here.  The breakdown on the Collector’s Edition features a new 4K scan and new interviews from Linda Blair, Peter Barton, Vincent Van Patten, Suki Goodwin, Kevin Brophy, And Jenny Neumann, as well as brand new supplemental materials about the making of the movie..

  • Interview With Director Tom DeSimone
  • Interview With Producer Bruce Cohn Curtis
  • Interview With Writer Randolph Feldman
  • Anatomy Of The Death Scenes With Tom DeSimone, Randolph Feldman, Make-up Artist Pam Peitzman, Art Director Steven G. Legler, And Special Effects Artist John Eggett
  • On Location At The Kimberly Crest House With Tom DeSimone
  • Gothic Design In Hell Night With Steven G. Legler
  • Original Radio Spot
  • Original Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots
  • Photo Gallery

Hell Night (1981) - Blu-ray Review

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