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Case Number 17546: Small Claims Court

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Night Of Death!

Synapse // 1980 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // October 23rd, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Christopher Kulik was going to go to the Kiss concert, but he just couldn't handle a night of "Beth."

The Charge

You are what they eat!

The Case

After months of dealing with unemployment, beautiful Martine (Isabelle Goguey, Power Of Evil) grabs an open position as assistant nurse at a secluded retirement home called Deadlock House. The head nurse Nicole (Charlotte de Turckheim, Jefferson in Paris) isn't too happy about the situation, but she takes Martine under her wing nonetheless. The cold, stern boss Helene (Betty Beckers) tells Martine she can't have any nights off or phone calls for the first two months, but lets her go on a date with her boyfriend the night before she officially begins work. When she returns, Nicole has mysteriously disappeared, allegedly fired by Helene. It's only a matter of time before Martine begins to sniff out something sinister going on at Deadlock House.

La Nuit De La Mort, aka Night Of Death!, has all the ingredients of a grand Gothic thriller. There's the creepy, Igor-like groundskeeper with a limp who is vulnerable and eccentric. All the strange residents have their own character quirks that alarm our heroine. The antique house is ripe with secret passages and chipped walls. If anything, Night Of Death! is ambitious in terms of atmosphere and mood, promising a vintage, "bump-in-the-night" kind of horror film we haven't seen in so long.

Alas, like many other films of its time, Night Of Death! surrenders itself to extreme gore rather than building suspense and dread. Within the first 25 minutes, you know exactly where the story is going. In fact, you learn everything so quickly I'm tempted to just give away Deadlock's little secrets. Martine can't seem to figure it out, so maybe you can. Check this out:

1. All of the residents claim to be vegetarian, yet Martine finds pieces of wrapped meat around the house.

2. Within a few days, Martine finds evidence that Nicole did not leave, including part of her suitcase.

3. None of the residents seem willing to give away their ages. Curiously, Martine finds a newspaper clipping with Helene awarded first prize as "Beauty Queen 1886."

4. Not only did the groundskeeper have a romantic interest in Nicole, but he's developed one for Martine as well.

Get the picture? If not, you're still not missing out, trust me.

The biggest blunder Night Of Death! makes is giving us a lead female character who is non-dimensional and unappealing. From the beginning, we have no reason to care about her. Even more so, when her detective work pays off in spades, she doesn't have the common sense to pack up and get the hell out of there. Goguey is certainly beautiful, but the numerous shots of her rack are just unnecessary. Same goes for the carnage, which is disgusting and unrealistic (rubber alert!).

To be fair, Night Of Death! does have its moments, and there's a fair amount of amusing black humor to digest. Otherwise, it's pretty forgettable.

I can't say for sure what the final product will look and sound like as Synapse sent us a screener. What I will say is the print I viewed was amazingly clean, with very little grain and scratches. Colors were rather dull, but the flesh tones and black levels were adequate. Dialogue and sound effects were delivered well in a decent Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. There were optional English subtitles, which you could easily toggle on and off. No extras.

The Verdict

Guilty!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 72

Perp Profile

Studio: Synapse
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Foreign
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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