Hell Night (1981)

R | 103 mins | Horror | 4 September 1981

Director:

Tom De Simone

Cinematographer:

Mac Ahlberg

Production Designer:

Steven G. Legler

Production Company:

BLT Productions
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HISTORY


       The 4 Sep 1981 LAT review noted that Hell Night was writer Randolph Feldman’s feature film debut.
       Items in the 15 Jan 1981 HR and the 4 Feb 1981 Var reported principal photography in CA was finished. Locations included Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles, CA, and a mansion in Redlands, CA.
       An article in the 10 Jun 1981 DV announced that Compass International Pictures would handle domestic distribution of Hell Night, noting that Compass president and CEO, Irwin Yablans, was one of the film’s producers. The article reported that several sneak previews had been held in major cities and more “extensive sneaks” were planned in major markets before the nationwide release, tentatively planned for Jul 1981. An item in the 25 Aug 1981 DV stated the film grossed $140,138 in its first week at fifteen theaters in Detroit, MI, and had box office receipts of $38,194 after three days at four theaters in Memphis, TN.
       The 30 Apr 1986 Var reported that Feldman sued BLT Productions, claiming that he was contractually entitled to 2 ½ % of the film’s net profit and that the Hell Night producers had failed to pay him all of his profit participation. Feldman alleged that he was owed $50,000 and the suit also asked for $500,000 in punitive damages. The outcome of the lawsuit is undetermined.

      End credits include the following statement: “The producers wish to acknowledge the cooperation of Kimberly-Shirk Associates, Bannershield Estates.”

              In the end credits, the word “coordinator” is misspelled as “coodinator” in ... More Less


       The 4 Sep 1981 LAT review noted that Hell Night was writer Randolph Feldman’s feature film debut.
       Items in the 15 Jan 1981 HR and the 4 Feb 1981 Var reported principal photography in CA was finished. Locations included Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles, CA, and a mansion in Redlands, CA.
       An article in the 10 Jun 1981 DV announced that Compass International Pictures would handle domestic distribution of Hell Night, noting that Compass president and CEO, Irwin Yablans, was one of the film’s producers. The article reported that several sneak previews had been held in major cities and more “extensive sneaks” were planned in major markets before the nationwide release, tentatively planned for Jul 1981. An item in the 25 Aug 1981 DV stated the film grossed $140,138 in its first week at fifteen theaters in Detroit, MI, and had box office receipts of $38,194 after three days at four theaters in Memphis, TN.
       The 30 Apr 1986 Var reported that Feldman sued BLT Productions, claiming that he was contractually entitled to 2 ½ % of the film’s net profit and that the Hell Night producers had failed to pay him all of his profit participation. Feldman alleged that he was owed $50,000 and the suit also asked for $500,000 in punitive damages. The outcome of the lawsuit is undetermined.

      End credits include the following statement: “The producers wish to acknowledge the cooperation of Kimberly-Shirk Associates, Bannershield Estates.”

              In the end credits, the word “coordinator” is misspelled as “coodinator” in two instances: Production coordinator Barbara Javitz and Construction coordinator Jeff Staggs. Publicity materials found in AMPAS library files mistakenly referred to the character “May West” as “Mae West” and several reviews reflected the misspelling. The actors portraying the two killers could not be identified as of the writing of this note and do not appear to receive onscreen credit in the film. A production chart in the 12 Dec 1980 Var listed David Schmier as first assistant cameraman, Chuck Henderson as post production assistant editor, and David Ellis as stunt coordinator, but none of them received onscreen credit on the film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1981.
---
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1981
p. 13.
New York Times
6 Sep 1981
p. 51.
Variety
12 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
4 Feb 1981.
---
Variety
2 Sep 1981
p. 14.
Variety
30 Apr 1986.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Irwin Yablans and Bruce Cohn Curtis Present
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
2d elec
2d asst cam
Still photog
Steady cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set const
Const coord
Lead carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst ward
MUSIC
Mus
Mus ed
Rec eng
Mus rec at
Mus coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Casting dir
Scr supv
Prod auditor
Asst to the prods
Driver
Prod secy
Loc casting
Loc casting
Extra casting
Transportation capt
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc equip supplied by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
SONGS
"Theme From Hell Night, " sung by Leza Miller, music by Dan Wyman, lyrics by Bob Walter.
PERFORMER
COMPOSERS
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 September 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 4 September 1981
Copyright Claimant:
BLT Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
19 November 1981
Copyright Number:
PA154339
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

College students celebrating “Hell Night” lead Marti Gaines, Jeff Reid, Seth Davies, and Denise Dunsmore to the deserted Garth Manor, where the four pledges must spend the night as part of their initiation into the Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and its sister sorority. According to legend, Raymond Garth’s four children were deformed and, twelve years ago, Garth killed his wife and three of the children before committing suicide, deliberately leaving the youngest son, Andrew, alive. Police read the explanation in Raymond’s suicide note and only discovered three bodies. Andrew was never found. Fraternity president Peter Bennet locks chains around the tall front gates and hands a pistol to Jeff, claiming the only way out is to shoot the lock. Peter promises to return at dawn before leading the other students away. Inside the candle-lit manor, Denise and Seth head to a bedroom upstairs while Marti and Jeff talk by the living room fireplace. Meanwhile, Peter, fraternity member Scott Zamboni, and sorority leader May West sneak back onto the grounds to scare the unsuspecting pledges. When May trips, Scott cautions her about several holes leading to tunnels beneath the house. Moments later, the pledges are scared by screams from the third floor, but Jeff and Seth discover speaker wires and realize that the house is rigged to frighten them. Outside, the pranksters separate and, as May sneaks past the house, a hand reaches from a hole and pulls her into a tunnel where a deformed man, presumably Andrew Garth, decapitates her. Inside, the screams start again and Jeff investigates, leaving Marti alone. The doors shut and a “ghost” moves toward ... +


College students celebrating “Hell Night” lead Marti Gaines, Jeff Reid, Seth Davies, and Denise Dunsmore to the deserted Garth Manor, where the four pledges must spend the night as part of their initiation into the Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and its sister sorority. According to legend, Raymond Garth’s four children were deformed and, twelve years ago, Garth killed his wife and three of the children before committing suicide, deliberately leaving the youngest son, Andrew, alive. Police read the explanation in Raymond’s suicide note and only discovered three bodies. Andrew was never found. Fraternity president Peter Bennet locks chains around the tall front gates and hands a pistol to Jeff, claiming the only way out is to shoot the lock. Peter promises to return at dawn before leading the other students away. Inside the candle-lit manor, Denise and Seth head to a bedroom upstairs while Marti and Jeff talk by the living room fireplace. Meanwhile, Peter, fraternity member Scott Zamboni, and sorority leader May West sneak back onto the grounds to scare the unsuspecting pledges. When May trips, Scott cautions her about several holes leading to tunnels beneath the house. Moments later, the pledges are scared by screams from the third floor, but Jeff and Seth discover speaker wires and realize that the house is rigged to frighten them. Outside, the pranksters separate and, as May sneaks past the house, a hand reaches from a hole and pulls her into a tunnel where a deformed man, presumably Andrew Garth, decapitates her. Inside, the screams start again and Jeff investigates, leaving Marti alone. The doors shut and a “ghost” moves toward her. Marti struggles to open the door and yells for Peter and May to stop scaring her. When the latch releases, Marti falls into the hallway as the boys return. Seth rejoins Denise upstairs while Jeff steps outside and discovers the set-up for the phony “ghost.” Marti go upstairs to a bedroom where Marti suggests they try to sleep. Meanwhile, Scott climbs a ladder to the roof and prepares to execute his next prank, but the killer breaks Scott’s neck. Elsewhere, Peter dons a mask and sneaks through a secret passage to scare Denise, but his plan fails because she is too intoxicated. As Denise falls back to sleep, Peter goes to the roof to join Scott and is horrified to discover his friend’s body. Peter climbs down the ladder and rushes to unlock the front gate, but the maniac attacks him. Peter escapes and runs into the garden’s hedge maze. The killer follows and impales Peter with a sickle. Inside, Denise and Seth do not realize they are being watched and, when Seth goes to the bathroom, the killer grabs Denise. Seth returns to find Denise gone and May’s decapitated head on the bed. Hearing Seth’s scream, Marti and Jeff rush to the room as Seth grabs the pistol and runs for the gate. He shoots at the lock but discovers the gun is loaded with blanks. Seth climbs the fence, almost impaling himself on the sharp spears on top, but he makes it to the other side and promises to return with help. Jeff and Marti search for Denise and discover Scott’s body hanging outside a window. Jeff sees a light in the garden and leaves Marti barricaded in a bedroom while he investigates. In the hedge maze, Jeff arms himself with a pitchfork and discovers the light is a flashlight lying beneath Peter’s body. Jeff grabs the flashlight and runs, not noticing the keys dangling from Peter’s hand. In town, the police are overwhelmed with Hell Night pranksters and do not believe Seth’s story. As Seth leaves the police station, he notices weapons lying on a table. He grabs a rifle, loads it with ammunition, sneaks outside, steals a car, and races back to the mansion. Jeff, still armed with the pitchfork, hides in a bedroom with Marti as they await Seth’s return. Behind them, a figure rises beneath a rug. When Marti sees it and screams, Jeff rams his weapon into the man. They pull back the rug, discover the wounded man has escaped through a hidden trap door and follow the secret passage to tunnels below the basement. They are horrified to find Denise’s body sitting among skeletons at a gruesome dining table. They hear grunting sounds as the mutant killer approaches and they run. The killer follows as they race up a stairway and find themselves trapped on a ledge next to a stuck door. As Marti tries to open the door, the mutant grabs Jeff and they fight, falling down the stairs. Jeff’s leg is injured, but he gets away from the killer, runs back up the stairs, and escapes with Marti, wedging the door shut with the pitchfork. Meanwhile, Seth drives up to the gates and notices a figure run in front of the car. When Seth grabs his rifle and follows, he discovers a bent railing and slips through the opening onto the grounds. By the garden, the killer jumps on Seth and they fight. Seth shoots the maniac, knocking him over a bridge into a pond. When Seth reaches the water, the mutant jumps up and Seth shoots again, killing him. Seth runs inside, shouting that he killed Andrew. Relieved, Marti and Jeff, badly limping, come from their second floor hiding place, but a hand reaches from behind a pillar and pulls Seth into the shadows. Seconds later, a shot rings out. When the rifle is tossed into the hallway, Marti and Jeff call to Seth but there is no answer. When Marti goes for the rifle, she is attacked by a second Garth brother, who somehow survived Raymond’s massacre. Escaping the mutant's clutches, Marti runs back upstairs and helps Jeff into a bedroom. As the killer breaks the door, they escape through the window. Marti makes it to the roof, but the killer grabs Jeff and tosses him outside to his death. Marti runs away and finds Peter’s body with the gate keys. She unlocks the gate and gets into Seth’s stolen car, but it will not start until she works on the engine. As Marti turns the car around, she backs into the gate, knocking it horizontal before she speeds off. The killer, however, is on the car’s roof and smashes the windshield to attack her. Marti spins the car around and races into the tipped gate, piercing the mutant on its razor-sharp spikes as the car crashes to a stop. The sun rises as Marti walks away and Hell Night ends. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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