After Midnight (1989)


After taking on the Ewoks with the 1985 made-for-TV film Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, the Wheat brothers decided to take a shot at the horror genre with After Midnight, a little-known horror anthology. I heard about the flick many years ago, and had it on my "must see" list of out-of-print VHS horror movies, but i It wasn't until it got a re-release on DVD that I finally managed to get my hands on it. To my surprise the movie is actually quite good. Although the stories aren't scary and seem to lean more towards a tame rendition of Tales From the Crypt, they are still fairly original and interesting none-the-less. I especially liked the one involving the pack of dogs.

The film follows a college professor, who teaches the "psychology of fear". He manages to scare the hell out of a doubtful student in the first day of class by pulling out a gun, and after a little trouble with the school board over the events, he gives the class an opportunity to learn more about "fear" by joining him at his home after school. A group of students take him up on the offer and decide to make a trip over to the strange professor's residence, where they gather 'round to tell scary stories, those of which supposedly revolve around real people in life-threatening situations -- no ghost stories here people. This leads to our trio of stories...

The first involves a married couple who, after celebrating the man's birthday, go on a late-night drive down an isolated road. The car naturally stalls at one point, leading them to seek aid at a near-by mansion, which is also said to be haunted (of course). A failed attempt at getting someone to answer the door leads the couple to sneak in through a window, in hopes of using a phone. One can only imagine what happens next... This is probably the shortest story in the trio, but the creepy climax will probably stick in your head more than the other two stories. I'd rank it as the second best of the three.

The second story is my favorite -- it follows a group of girls as they drive through the city late in the night in hopes of finding some sort of means of entertainment. Instead of crashing a party or hitting up a club, they get lost in a seemingly isolated area. While attempting to refuel at a gas station the girls run into a greasy vagrant and his unfriendly pack of dogs. After taking care of the vagrant, the girls drive off with the man's the wild dogs on their tale. This is probably the longest of the three stories, but also the most entertaining. It's not everyday do we get a handful of girls running through the city from a pack of vicious dogs!

The final story involves a lone telephone operator, who is continuously harassed by a male caller after she takes over the shift of a co-worker. After mistaking her for the original girl, the crazed man spends the rest of the night calling and threatening the woman. The story turns from obsession to murder in no-time, leaving our heroine to fend for her life. I liked this story the least, mostly due to the fact that it was the least interesting of the three, and not a whole lot happened in it. However, it was nice to see CSI actress Marg Helgenberger as the female operator.

All-in-all, the three stories failed to scare me, but succeeded in keeping me glued to the screen. Although the "twist" at the end of the film is less than desirable, it's at least a little different than how you'd expect it to end. There's not much on the gore-scale, and there isn't any nudity, which is odd considering it's an 80's flick, which is a decade notorious for its gratuitous nudity. I guess it just goes to show that this film somehow manages to remain original in one of the most unoriginal decades.

This is an underrated horror anthology that offers fairly original stories, which are more entertaining than they are scary. Regardless, it's a good watch for a rainy night; worth a check.

This is an underrated horror anthology that offers fairly original stories, which are more entertaining than they are scary. Regardless, it's a good watch for a rainy night; worth a check.