Hell Night (1981)

hell night poster 1981 movie
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 4/10

Kind of a good monster

Dull story, too long

Movie Info

Movie Name: Hell Night

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

hell night linda blair peter barton

“Hold me, Linda Blair…”

The Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity is hazing their pledges and the final step of their initiation is spending the night at the haunted Garth Manor.  Marti (Linda Blair), Denise (Suki Goodwin), Seth (Vince Van Patten), and Jeff (Peter Barton) have taken the challenge and plan for a night of partying in the home where Ramon Garth allegedly killed his family.  When strange events begin occurring at the mansion not tied to the fraternity pranks, Marti, Denise, Seth, and Jeff discover the legend of Ramon Garth might be more real than they ever expected.

Directed by Tom DeSimone, Hell Night is a horror slasher movie.  The film was released to mostly negative reviews but gained a cult following on VHS.  The film received a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress (Blair).

hell night linda blair monster killer

I just want to give you a hug!

Hell Night was one of those movies that sat on the shelves of our local video store and barely got a passing glance.  With bigger and better slasher movies (ok sometimes not better), Hell Night seemed like a generic movie.  I believe I saw it once on television, and the only thing I remembered from it was Linda Blair’s costume.  Really watching Hell Night for the first time, it isn’t a great horror movie, but there are some good moments.

The film’s set-up is pretty flimsy.  It is a typical “haunted mansion” with a backstory of horror and mystery.  The movie introduces the “two killer” motif later used in Scream to a better extent, but here, you kind of have to be paying attention to really notice it, and it isn’t explained well.  I do like that the rather cliché “scared” jock guy leaves but actually does come back…that usually doesn’t happen in movies (it doesn’t go well for him, so maybe that is why).

I love, love, love The Exorcist which I feel not only is a great horror movie but it is also a great drama.  That being said, Linda Blair never really was any better than her original big role.  Here, Blair feels like she is sleepwalking through the movie, and she was already worried about typecasting.  She’s joined by two weak leads in Vince Van Patten and Peter Barton who are just really bland throughout the movie.

hell night andrew monster killer

Wait…you broke into my house and I’m the bad guy?

I like some of the look of the film, and haunted house movies can be fun. The movie really starts to lose itself by the end of the film when we have tunnels under the mansion and monsters jumping out at every turn.  It feels like the movie could have just stuck with a big gothic mansion with hidden panels instead of adding a sublevel to hide the killers.  I do admit that the movie has some solid classic ’80s jump scares that are better than many modern (and totally forced) jump scares.

Hell Night is a very ’80s style horror movie.  I like that, but it isn’t my favorite ’80s horror movie.  1980s horror is almost a genre itself because they have a real distinct feel and style toward the storytelling, visuals, and scares.  Hell Night has everything you’d expect from something like this including a fun final monster, but in many ways, I’d rather just go back and watch one of the earlier Friday the 13th movies for a similar feel.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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