Night Fright (1967)

Author: Josh G.
Submitted by: Josh G.   Date : 2008-04-29 12:47

Directed by: James A. Sullivan
Written by: Russ Marker
Starring: John Agar, Ralph Baker Jr. and Dorothy Davis

Reviewed by: Josh G.

I love dated movies. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. Seeing those styles of yesteryear, many popular before I was even born, make me smile and laugh at the colorful times that once were. In Night Fright, everyone is taking out their retro wardrobe, not to mention the splashy sayings such as ‘groovy’ and ‘swingin’. Yes, these are all fun and games, but there comes a point in a movie where you can no longer be blinded by pretty designs or polished hairstyles. Acting, interest, and the big plot have to be involved somehow. I did not fall asleep during Night Fright, but looks can be deceiving. I will tell you now...I was not amused. A shame, since I had such high hopes for it.

A young couple is listening to the radio when from out of the bushes, a creature sneaks up on them and attacks. The next day, Chris (Ralph Baker Jr.) and Judy (Dorothy Davis) are playing around with each other in the woods when they find the previous night’s mangled teenagers. With the girl’s face torn apart, and the boyfriend in critical condition at the hospital, the police are stunned as to what monster could have done such a thing. The tracks that it left behind appear to be that of an alligator. The authorities attempt to close off the area, when a group of teenagers drive by to get to a cabin by the lake. The police warn them that it’s dangerous, and that they should turn around, but in days to come, a big party is being planned at the lake site. What’s killing in the woods, and who will stop it?

We start off the picture with authentic cheesy acting. The performances by each actor and actress is undeniably from the 60s, and that’s not exactly a good thing. The first believable line comes in at eleven minutes, and all that is is Judy screaming. I was actually getting scared for the title screen, which didn’t show up until about eleven and a half minutes into Night Fright. The introduction is overly long, even though we do learn more about Judy and Chris. The problem is that neither are very interesting. They’re too happy. Everyone’s happy. The waitress is happy. The nurse is happy. The sheriff is kind of happy. I’m pretty sure under all of that fur, the killer creature is spreading a large smile.

One of my favorite parts of this film was ruined by dragging on and on with the same activity. The kids at the dance are giving the audience just what their 60s soul is craving, dancing about in warm colors with a body of water in the background. It somewhat reminded me of A Bay of Blood. Then, the same steps are repeated again, and we lose interest immediately. The same thing happens during the chase scene of Night Fright. You’re at command for twenty seconds, and then you’re daydreaming. Atmosphere can’t save the dull and unoriginal story of this movie. You don’t actually get to see anything. You hear people talking about the events in detail, but all it comes down to is a man with a little blood on his face.

There is some good cheese to be had, mainly dealing with the fight between Chris and Rex (Frank Jolly) where tense music is pitched in, when the viewer can clearly tell that nothing tense is present at all. It’s lame, but then again, that’s no contrast with the rest of the feature. The explanation for the ‘massacre’ is not clear, but basically, NASA’s experiments have gone wrong and turned a harmless ape into a slaughter beast. I wanted more in-depth characters, a worthy chase, perhaps a good look at the monster and a little more thrilling. Betty the fast food server added a spark due to her offbeat replies. “Hey. What about your order?” she asks Chris and Judy, followed by a hilarious pout. Poor Betty. But, hey! What about my order? I distinctly asked for a fun fiend terror, and you gave me boring leftovers with little to no script. I’ll obviously be taking my business elsewhere. So should you. Trash it!

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