The Midnight Hour

The Midnight Hour (1985)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Lee Montgomery, Shari Belafonte-Harper, Peter DeLuise, LeVar Burton, Dedee Pfeiffer, Dick Van Patten

’The Midnight Hour’ is a made for TV movie that originally aired in 1985 on ABC. Featuring a veritable who’s who of Hollywood has-beens, this cheesy little monster movie is not without its charms.

It’s Halloween in the quiet New England town of Pitchford, Mass. After delivering a scintillating speech to his high school class on his ancestor’s role as the town witch-hunter some 300 years ago, young Phil Grenville (Lee Montgomery) rounds up his pals and breaks into the local witchcraft museum to borrow some authentic costumes for the big Halloween party that night. Trying on their illicit wardrobe in the old cemetery (not a good idea, eh?), those pesky kids open an old scroll and unknowingly release Melissa Cavender’s (Shari Belafonte-Harper) ancestor, the vampire-witch Lucinda, who rises from the grave and summons her undead minions to go crash the party. Before too long, the entire town has been werewolf/vampire/zombiefied and it’s up to young Phil, and his new undead girlfriend, Sandy, to set things right.

Sounds like a real winner, doesn’t it? Well, before you pass judgment allow me to point out a few things you’ll miss out on if you skip this DVD. First, there is the Michael Jackson’s ’Thriller’ inspired dance number featuring a whole host of undead booty-shakers. Next, there are the things you’ll never see in after-school specials these days such as drunk party chaperones, undead cheerleaders who are hot to trot, and the town’s esteemed judge trying to bash in his own son’s head with a chunk of concrete (of course, since his son is Peter DeLuise you can’t really blame him). Can you say ’V-chip?’ For me, however, seeing Dick Van Patten as a half-decayed vampire dentist is worth the price of admission alone. And the fact that The Smith’s ’How Soon is Now’ plays whenever someone gets vampired doesn’t hurt matters either.

’The Midnight Hour’ is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame format. Surprisingly for a 15-year-old made for TV movie, the video quality is quite good. The image is sharp, colors are solid, and only a few blemishes pop up here and there. Now why does an old throwaway TV movie look better on DVD than many feature films? Go figure.

The audio is a fairly subdued DD 2.0 surround mix that is free from distortion but certainly won’t tax your system by any means. Again though, it’s more than adequate considering the source materials.

’The Midnight Hour’ contains absolutely no extras whatsoever. What Dick Van Patten was too busy to do a commentary track? No talent files for Michelle Pfeiffer’s little sister, Dedee? Oh well, more’s the pity.

Now you may get the impression from this review that I didn’t care for ’The Midnight Hour.’ Actually, I found it to be quite entertaining and may even give it another spin early on Halloween night as it’s not too scary for the little monsters and has a very nice flashback feel for those who came of age in the 80s. It has humor, romance, decent monster make-up, cheesy acting, a retro soundtrack, and did I mention Dick Van Patten as a vampire dentist?