Movie Name: Graveyard Shift
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date(s): October 26, 1990
MPAA Rating: R
The Bachman Mill is looking to do some improvements. The bottom levels of the mill are scheduled for renovations and offices, but first they have to be cleaned out and the rat problem must be solved. John Hall (David Andrews) is looking for work and is hired by Warwick (Stephen Macht) for the job, but Hall soon discovers he’s gotten more than he expected with the cruel Warwick and rats that might be a little different than most.
Directed by Ralph S. Singleton, Graveyard Shift is a horror film based on Stephen King’s short story “Graveyard Shift” which first appeared in Cavalier (October 1970) and was later published in King’s 1978 short-story collection Night Shift. The movie was panned by critics.
After the success of movies like Carrie, The Shining, and even Christine, Stephen King was a hot commodity with his horror selling at the top of the charts and fans always rabid for more. King not only wrote a lot of full length novels, but like Edgar Allan Poe, he wrote many short stories. Also like Edgar Allan Poe, many of these movies were adapted…to some success and some failure.
Graveyard Shift is a bad monster movie. The movie trudges along slowly with the occasional death mixed in. The movie brings in an exterminator to add some humor to the film with his attempts to kill the rats (which was done much better with John Goodman’s character in Arachnophobia). The movie completely devolves into a survival movie (which seems pretty sloppy) at the end and the horror and deaths are pretty predictable.
The cast is also very generic. David Andrews and Stephen Macht don’t really stand out as the main leads, and Kelly Wolf’s performance as the lead female also is rather muted. Brad Dourif is the film’s “star power” as the exterminator, but his role seems rather forced and underdeveloped.
Some of the special effects of the film are ok. The killer rat/bat thing is slimy and creepy but you can tell the budget was rather low because you never get a really good look at it. I do like the mill and old mills and granaries are rather creepy due to levels and levels of musty, dusty, and often vermin filled hidden holes…Graveyard Shift does better when dealing with this aspect of the story.
Graveyard Shift is bad early ’90s horror. The ’90s seemed to be horror’s death for a time probably due to the rise of straight-to-video horror. Graveyard Shift feels like it should have been straight to video, and it doesn’t feel big enough for a full film. It is probably for Stephen King fans only…but at least it has a good poster.