Thursday, 11 August 2011



There've been a few horror movies about horror movies recently. Post-Scream, it became fashionable to overtly nod to genre greats, not just by naming characters after legendary directors (which has been going on since the eighties with The Howling and Night Of The Creeps and probably before that) but by signalling the pastiche to the equally cine-literate audience with a broad wink. Movies such as the hopelessly incompetent Hack! fill the cast with machete fodder endlessly talking about slashers; or there are films like The Hills Run Red, Resurrecting "The Street Walker" and Don't Look Up, in which cine-enthusiasts ill-advisedly attempt to complete or remake abandoned horror movies only to find out exactly why they were never finished. It's no longer enough to just stick an Evil Dead poster on a bedroom wall to demonstrate that you're in on the joke.

Most of Midnight Movie takes place in a fleapit cinema that's screening a creaky old horror film called The Dark Beneath, a black-and-white rural psycho movie from around the early 1970s (no date is given, but the poster has a GP rating that the MPAA apparently only used between 1970 and 1972): it's such an obscurity that the audience of just ten - including the assistant manager, her friends and a biker couple - don't initially realise that the film is not just bringing its mad killer into the real world, but it's actually switching to the killer's POV as he prowls the cinema they're sitting in. Also in the audience is a cop trying to track down a man he believes to be a real life killer who was once inspired by The Dark Beneath to massacre a hospital full of patients....

Midnight Movie isn't a masterpiece but it's a nicely enjoyable and entertaining ride: its mix of Last Action Hero reality-flipping and straight gory slasher action is well handled, the roster of screaming victims are mostly the correct side of the like-loathe divide, and it manages to demonstrate a love of creaky old horror movies without being tiresomely nerdy about it (although I'm demonstrating that nerdiness by suggesting that The Dark Beneath doesn't have that precise feel of an early 70s horror film). And the cinema in which the bulk of it takes place is one of those tatty old downtown one-screeners largely obliterated by the soulless 20-plex chains but which are the eternal home of a film like The Dark Beneath - and Midnight Movie. Except that Midnight Movie, a film about film and cinema, went straight to DVD. Still, worth a watch.


Beneath Midnight

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