Night Fright

February 12, 2012 at 3:55 am (5 Heads, Night Fright) (, , , , )

Night Fright – 1967 – United States

Night Fright stars the perpetually terse John Agar whose numerous genre credits include Tarantula (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Invisible Invaders (1959), Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962), Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1966), Curse of the Swamp Creature (1966), and Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966). Agar is Night Fright’s only actor not from Texas. Director James Sullivan also crewed on classic Texas cheapies like The Eye Creatures (1965), Zontar: The Thing from Venus, Curse of the Swamp Creature, and even Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). All this Texas blood makes for an excellently authentic regional flick. Dig those drawling accents!

An unseen beast massacres a young couple necking at the secluded “Satan’s Hollow”. The sheriff ties the killing to a recent rocket crash. Some scientists launched animals into space to test cosmic radiation in a top secret operation called Noah’s Ark. The rocket returned full of horribly mutated critters and now a skull-faced reptile-ape stalks the countryside. The ape is somehow impervious to bullets, so it’s up to the sheriff to booby-trap a manikin with dynamite. Kaboom.

Night Fright works hard to create suspense with lengthy scenes of prowling about or anxiously waiting. Unfortunately, poor pacing makes these boring rather than tense, but one scene stands out. As the sheriff searches the woods, a bestial grunting startles him. In an amusing anticlimax, it’s only a family of boars. Actually, the monster doesn’t show until the last 20 minutes. Instead, time is spent developing the characters’ fairly complicated relationships, making Night Fright a small town drama as much as a horror flick.

But Night Fright’s drama and horror are both crippled by lousy acting, overuse of day-for-night, and a general lack of artistry and love. What do you expect from a dubious title like Night Fright? At least it has the requisite cute coeds and lumbering monster. If it’s good enough for teenage drive-in goers, it’s good enough for me.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. Night Fright’s musical score is familiar. Can anyone tell me where else it was used?

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