So, this time around, I'm getting a serious deja vu vibe.The movie, Happy Hell Night, sounds very similar to another movie I saw for this blog, Prom Night 4: Deliver Us From Evil. Both films involve a mental patient going after a quartet of teens, and both mental patients happen to be evil holy men. Weird, huh? Get ready for plenty of SPOILERS, and let's see if this one's an original or not....
The movie begins on your typical dark and stormy night, inside an insane asylum. A guy who looks like the missing link is peering out of his cell through some bars, as a pretty female walks down the middle of the hospital corridor. She peeks in on the neanderthal, and he screams at her. I guess they aren't a couple.
As she runs down the hallway, we see several shots of random doors, which makes all the sense in the world. Hell, it's probably the same door, shot at different angles. Anyway, she stops and meets a co-worker, an angry black guy with a flashlight. He tells her about a patient that most of the staff avoid like the plague, then orders her to look through the window at him.
She nervously complies, then breaks down in hysterics. The black guy glances inside the room, and sees a pretty big insect crawling on the hand of the patient. Through their conversation, the coworkers reveal that the patient has been institutionalized for the past 25 years, and has been mostly catatonic during that time.
That leads to a dreaded flashback, specifically to 25 years ago. A young man(played by Sam Rockwell) holding a sharpened crucifix wakes up a priest, begging for his help. Then a perky deejay is heard playing a song dedicated to a group of fraternity and sorority pledges. Then we get back to the priest, who now has a flashlight, and is looking for....I don't know, some sort of plot? A coherent script?
The priest sees a pentagram drawn on a wall during his exploration, and on the floor beneath it are a few dismembered corpses. As the frightened priest continues to use his flashlight to look around, he finds a bald, albino priest staring at him, and showing that his hands are drenched in blood.
The albino priest, Father Malius, says something that sounds like "No teeth", and the other priest runs outside. And that ends the incredibly uninformative flashback. Thanks, movie...that really helped to clear things up.
Then we see a guy in a bandanna invite a girl to a fraternity Halloween party. It's now 1991, at a place known as Winfield College. Anyway, the guy explains that the party is for "Halloween Hell Night", which probably would have made a better title for this thing.
Bandanna Guy meets up with Denim Outfit Guy, in what is easily the worst superhero league EVER! Denim guy is named Rob, and he apparently wants the other guy, Jay, to let him pledge his fraternity. Jay doesn't want to let him, but eventually agrees to let him come to the party to prove himself to the other frat brothers. Then Jay gets Rob to buy him a beer.
At a local hangout, 2 women are having a discussion about something that sounds serious, but neither actress seems to know how to make a "serious" face. While they work on their acting techniques, 2 guys playing darts are shouting back and forth to each other about how one guy's brother, Sonny, is supposed to be arriving back in town soon.
The guys ask the bartender to turn on the television, and a guy who looks like Weird Al is "reporting" on the Hell Night festivities. The bar is a hangout for the fraternity that was mentioned earlier, and Sonny seems to be the one person they want at their stupid-sounding party.
The girls leave, and the guys all discuss what sort of initiation activity they want to make Sonny perform that night. The general consensus seems to be that they want to have Sonny ride his motorcycle around the campus, sans clothes.
Then Barry, the "reporter" from TV, walks in and announces that he's thought up the best possible Halloween stunt to win the Hell Night competition. He reads a newspaper clipping about the murders that happened in 1966, and proposes that they have their pledges spend the night at the asylum where the albino killer is reportedly still locked up. Barry convinces the frat boys that, if one of the pledges can take a picture of the killer priest, then the frat is a shoo-in to win the contest.
At a motel one of the women with the hard-to-control facial expressions, Liz, meets up with the Sonny, who just pulled in on his bike. It seems that Liz and Sonny were having a clandestine relationship, even while Liz was seeing his brother. Yeesh. For a slasher film, this sure seems more like something out of a soap opera.
The sheriff arrives at the frat house, which looks like a hotel. He asks 2 of them if they've seen someone named Ned. It figures that a character with an actual name in this thing isn't even onscreen. Thanks for the help, movie.
Anyway, Ned's in trouble for stealing the files relating to the murder spree. Wait, wasn't that guy named Barry? Is he Ned now, or is Ned a new character? You know, watching a moronic movie like this shouldn't be this difficult. I tried Wikipedia for a better plot synopsis and character list, but there isn't one. Okay, new rule: after this week, any movie without a subtitles option or a webpage with info like the cast/character names is going back to Netflix unfinished. I shouldn't have to jump through hoops to simply be able to tell who's who in a movie like this.
Okay, done venting. The sheriff takes a huge icepick off of a trophy wall, then advises the frat boys to re-think pulling any crazy pranks this year. Then one of the guys, Eric, gets a call from his father. Through their chat, it is revealed that Eric is Sonny's brother. So this guy is the one that Liz has been cheating on...Nice.
Darren McGavin plays Eric and Sonny's dad. He calls Eric, and asks him for details about Hell Night. Eric doesn't reveal anything, but when he asks his father if he knew anything about the old murders, dear ol' dad has a major flashback. Or he crapped himself.
He was apparently the Sam Rockwell character seen during the flashback. Dad tells Eric that he'll call him right back, then places a call to arrange for a driver to pick him up. Then the scene just wheezes to a stop.
Okay, so the guy I thought was named Barry is named Ned BARA. Glad that got cleared up. The driver, Eric, sees his brother's bike at the motel, and decides to surprise him with a visit. He sees Liz and Sonny making the beast with two backs through a motel window, and Liz sees him as well. As usual, nothing else happens, the scene just cuts off abruptly at that point. They should have called this Happy Nothing Ever Goes Anywhere Interesting Night.
So that random event somehow brings us to "STV", the dorky little studio where Ned Bara does his annoyingly expositional broadcasts. Nothing happens, of course...nother ever does. Instead, we get whisked away to the Hell Night party, in full, disinterested swing. Nerdy Ned arrives, Sonny walks in. He starts to drink a beer, until Eric confronts him about Liz, then punches Sonny in the face.
After the punch is delivered, Eric announces that Sonny needs to break into the asylum to get a picture of our favorite sunlight-challenged monk, Malius. He brings along a guy named Ralph, who seems like he's there just to be a clumsy, loud oaf as they sneak around.
They find a door that leads to a security station, where a bored-looking nurse has obviously been watching the movie along with us. A patient wanders in, and starts rambling about a television, so the nurse makes him bend over in front of her TV(!), then shoves a syringe into his butt cheek. As the patient drifts off to La-La Land, Sonny and Ralph sneak into the main hall of the psych ward.
They wander around for a bit, until they find themselves in a section that looks like it belongs in a sewer tunnel in the 18th century. Sonny uses a match to see by, which is like fighting a fire with a drop of water. Then they find a door marked "AA 19", and has a heavy crucifix shoved through the latch to bar it from being opened. Dumb and Dumbest, of course, remove the cross from the locking mechanism. Idiots.
They hear a noise behind them then, and both turn around to look. When they turn back to the door, Brother Malius waves a hand at them that looks like it belongs to E.T. Then the boneheads open the door to enter the cell. As Sonny checks to make sure the nurse is still distracted(she's actually asleep now...), Ralph enters the cell to take the picture.
Ralph then starts screaming when he sees the face of the monk, so Sonny goes back in to quiet him down. He finds Ralph on the floor, minus his right hand. Malius stares at Sonny, then says something that sounds like, "No pity."
Then we switch over to The Bobbsey Twins, Liz and Whats-Her-Face. They almost run over another priest(how many different priests and monks live in this town???), and they talk about how creepy it is that he lives next to a cemetery. Boy, I sure am glad that they interrupted a key scene in the movie to tell me that!
After the crazy holy man presumably finishes killing Ralph and Sonny, he decides to kill the sleeping nurse next. He turns up the volume on her stupid wrestling/boxing/whatever show, then stabs her through the hand when she reaches for the remote. While she screams like a ninny, Malius slasher her throat, then says, "No TV."
Somehow Sonny got away, because we see him racing on his motorcycle to warn the frat brothers. Then he does what any person who has a maniacal monk after him does...he pulls over, gets off the bike, and decides to collect his thoughts. A female cop finds him, and asks him why he stopped. Sonny makes up something about a fight with his girlfriend, and the cop decides to ask for his license.
Back at the party, Liz finds out where they sent Sonny, then abandons her friend to go find him. Eric then hooks up with a cute brunette at the party who looks a bit like Sarah Sidle on CSI. Liz pays a visit to yet another priest, named Father Cain. When she tells him about Sonny's "assignment", the elderly man goes apeshit. He tells her to hide, then he has a flashback, revealing that he was the young priest who Eric's father woke up on the night of the original killing spree.
Father Cain goes to the church to pray, then sees the crucifixion statue above the altar come to life. Jesus writhes and moans on the cross until he forces his hands free of the nails, then his body falls to the floor of the church, shattering. Uhhhhh.....okay....
Ned is still watching porn at the frat house, which is a completely appropriate way to follow the previous scene, I'm sure. Ned hears someone in the hall, but no one appears when he calls out, so he returns to his viewing.
Sonny finally gets his license back, and decides to continue to the fraternity. Meanwhile, A bondage chick seduces a student named Jake, while Eric finishes literally screwing around. Then bondage chick winds up handcuffed to a bed, Sonny continues to race home, and one of Ned's cameras is discovered.
As Ned watches a woman taking a shower on one of the cams, Eric finishes having sex. I'm positive now that this girl is Jorja Fox from CSI, but damn, she sure looks young in this. And hot.
The second that he leaves, she starts to quickly get dressed. Then the handcuffed woman hears someone, and assumes that it must be Jake. Jorja Fox leaves a note with her phone number on it, then rushes out to her car. She gets into her car, where Malius drives a pick axe through the roof, right into her skull. He then says something that sounds like, "No botching." Would it have killed the casting director to look for an actor who could speak clearly?
Malius shows up at the shower-girl's room, but her bathroom mirror is cracked, so she thinks that the albino is just her boyfriend, possibly wearing a mask. He actually manages to speak clearly, says, "No sex!", then murders her too.
Ned, never the sharpest knife in the drawer, somehow misses seeing the girl in the shower get killed. The power goes out, so Ned gets up to see what the problem might be. If Ned lives, I'll lose all faith in humanity.
Bondage girl sees the albino monk--actually SEES him!--and still doesn't think that anything might be wrong. Did they all take their stupid pills that day? She thinks he might be Jake for some reason, but when he stabs her through the foot, she guesses that he might not be a good guy after all. Her screams are heard by everyone in the house, but no one comes to her aid. Of course. Malius then holds up her bloody earring and says something that sounds like, "No war." More? Whore? Bore? Beats the shit out of me.
Liz returns, and finds the main floor in shambles. She then discovers her first corpse, and runs away shrieking. At the same time, Darren McGavin enters the church, and finds Father Cain up on the cross. Then Liz is seen following a trail of sticky gore and blood, which ends at a blood-filled sink, and several body parts thrown into some kind of netting.
She finds someone alive, then kills him with her voice. Poor fella. Ned is assaulted by Sonny, who informs him that Ralph was also killed. Ned wriggles out of his grasp, and tells Sonny that he needs to get the power back on before the big lug can finish choking him to death.
When the power is restored, both men see the killer on the monitor. Sonny rushes off to rescue Liz, after warning Ned not to leave the building. Liz, of course, has already come face-to-face with Malius, but she ran away before he could get her. Then she is found by Eric, who tries to calm her down. Sonny walks in as they are hugging, shoves the picture of Malius at his brother, then informs him that Ralph was murdered.
Ned interrupts to call in on a walkie-talkie that he sees someone moving around on the floor above them on his monitor, so they decide to get in gear. They find "Susan"(hey, at least she now has a freakin' name!) in the attic, and tell Ned to continue watching the monitor to find more survivors. Despite his whiny grumbling, Ned stays where he is and complies.
Liz then complains that Sue is holding onto her hand too tightly, before she sees that Sue in not even next to her. Somehow Sue got to a rocking chair, where Malius beheaded her, all without the other 3 hearing or seeing a single thing. Yeah, riiiiiiiiiight. The trio scurry back downstairs, so that Ned can guide them out of the house.
Ned sees the crazy killer walking the halls, but when he warns them, nothing is there. They step into another room, where a mannequin nearly frightens them to death. Then Ned claims that he sees someone in the room with them. Of course, they assume that he sees the dummy, but Malius pops up behind the mannequin, stabs Sonny in the hand, then grabs Liz.
Somehow, Malius gets propelled through a window and someone off to the side pushes Liz to safety. Now, since the two brothers were together looking at Sonny's hand, I have no idea how any of that happened. Who pushed Liz? Malius is seen on the ground below, apparently dead. Then Darren McGavin shows up, to explain the entire plot.
Apparently, when he was young, Dad made a satanic deal for great wealth, power, and happiness. As he explains how it all went down, Ned decides to start a live recording, and turns on the video equipment. As he begins to speak to his "audience", Malius drives the pick into his eye, then says, "No STV."
Then dad says that Malius was possessed by a demon, which is why he went on his killing spree back in the 1960's. As the story wraps up, Malius shoves the pick through the door, into the back of their father, who dies in such a dramatic way, it would make Bill Shatner blush. They cover him with a sheet, then start the demonic ritual again, in an attempt to exorcise the demon from Malius.
As they prepare to escape through the window, Darren McGavin's hand is seen trying to reach up toward them. Sonny, the last to exit, turns and realizes that his father's body is missing. He goes deeper into the house to find his father, which makes him the dumbest character by default.
He eventually sees a figure in a nother room, moving under a sheet, with the pick axe on top. Sonny slowly picks up the weapon, then plunges the blade into the body under the blanket. The body sits up, revealing that it's Dad, who has now been stabbed in both the front AND back. Matching scars, nice.
Then Eric and Liz begin the ritual to send the demon back to Hell. Sonny gets caught up in a snare, where he is dangling by his ankle upside-down, as Malius sees him from a window. Malius tries to kill Sonny with his pick axe, but then the possessed priest starts to feel his essence being ripped apart.
Eric and Liz hear a howl of pain, and Eric leaves the protective circle they drew on the floor to check on his brother. Malius, in the meantime, falls backward on a ladder(picture the same scene in Animal House, with Belushi watching the girls undress), while Sonny cuts the rope with his knife. Oh, and Eric falls in a graveyard, where the possessed monk finds him.
Liz hears the screams get closer, only to find Malius behind her, holding Eric by his side with a long, spear-like weapon. Liz turns back to the altar to resume the ritual, but then Eric vanishes. When the scared girl tries to start up the ritual yet again, Malius creeps up behind her and holds a knife to her throat.
Sonny saves the day on his motorcycle, and knocks Malius to the floor, where he gets caught in a bear trap. With Sonny's help, Liz finds Eric, and all 3 escape to the graveyard. Then Liz and Sonny go back to the altar to finish the spell, while Malius tries to reach a scalpel he spotted on the floor.
He must be a master at surgery, because when Liz and Sonny look back again, he's gone, minus his newly severed arm. The demonic holy man attacks Sonny, and now the 2 are handcuffed together. They grapple for a minute, then Sonny stabs Malius with the cross, and a blast of holy light breaks a hole in the ceiling. Another hole opens up under the priest, and he howls in pain again as he sinks into the ground.
Liz leaves the church as police and paramedics arrive, and sees them load up everyone in the ambulances. As she climbs into one to reassure Sonny that he's going to be fine, the driver turns out to be Malius, who says, "No problem..." THE END
Geez, what a stinker. A killer whose kill lines were mostly botched, a rather tame series of murders(although the statue that came to life was at least a surprise), and the few people who were recognizable were under-utilized. 2 killer trees out of 5for this one, and it still feels generous.
And what did I learn after seeing Happy Hell Night?
-Bald, albino priests are bad news.
-If you look like a cross between Weird Al and Jeff Foxworthy....you should die first in a slasher film.
-Darren McGavin is one tough hombre to kill, man.
Some of the movies I have coming up on my queue: Pieces, which I still need to finish watching for the blog; Cheerleader Camp, which looks like a cheesy good time; and Whisper, about a kid who compels people to hurt themselves, according to what folks have told me. Yay!
Oh, and Happy New Year!!!!