Tuesday, March 3, 2009

To All A Goodnight (1980)

Reviewed By: Billy

The classic 1950 movie All About Eve has long had the reputation of featuring some of the cattiest ladies even committed to celluloid. Starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and a young Marilyn Monroe, the movie follows actresses as they gossip, sleep, and just about claw their ways to the top of the social heap. It’s a good movie, but I’m here to say that Bette, etc., would stand no chance against the girls of To All A Goodnight. This movie, dear readers, features the most vile group of schoolgirls imaginable; within the first 15 minutes of the movie, they’ve killed off one of their classmates in a prank-gone-wrong, then drugged their housemother so they can have an all-night sex party.

Fasten your seatbelts…

To All A Goodnight is pretty much a sleazy rehash of Black Christmas and Prom Night, as a killer gets revenge for the fallen student while the girls hang out at their all-women academy over the Christmas holidays. There’s nothing original about the movie, except for possibly the idea of a killer dressed up as Santa Claus (which, of course, Silent Night, Deadly Night would borrow and much improve four years later). The best thing I can say about the movie is that it wastes absolutely no time – at twenty minutes in, we’ve already gotten four deaths, which means we’re averaging one every five minutes. Not bad!

There’s no character development within the academy – as mentioned, they are all sex-starved, nasty hooches who make fun of each other and everyone else they come into contact with. This, of course, isn’t necessarily a bad thing (JM and I do it all the time)…it just makes reviewing hard, as I couldn’t tell the difference between any of them and am not really sure which actress played whom. One of them was British...I think. The other characters are as equally nondescript, except the police chief who wears a shockingly ugly plaid sport coat and looks a lot like a used car salesman. This chief, by the way, is played by Sam Shamshak...which I believe to be the best tongue-twisting name ever.

The deaths scenes aren’t much to write home about, either; Santa Claus is kind of all over the place here, using hatchets, knives, and even a crossbow to off the kids. Gore is at a minimum; thankfully we get some decent nudity from the girls toward the beginning of the movie. The bad news is that things come to a screeching halt at about 40 minutes in; characters actually start talking…clothes stay on…and my finger hit the fast-forward button QUICKLY.

Finally, I hit “play” and one of the mean girls seduced a cop; after sex, he gets a knife in the back and seconds later, she gets attacked in the shower (with a second knife…Santa must have an endless supply of large butcher cutlery in his pocket). Finally, after a few more bodies pile up, we find out that Santa is the housemother (played by Katherine Herrington)…she starts screaming about how they “killed my baby!” in a flat performance just screaming for the pizzazz of Betsy Palmer. Mrs. Claus chases one of the girls out to an airstrip and, in the best scene, actually jumps in the cockpit, turns on the plane, and slices up the girl with the plane’s propeller!!! Now that’s what I call a resourceful maniac. Then, Mrs. Claus runs all the way back to campus, and the remaining kids are STILL IN THE HOUSE! That they didn’t take the ample opportunity to escape certainly justifies all of them getting killed.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Claus takes a seemingly unprovoked dive off the roof, sparing a few random kids. But wait…ANOTHER person in a Santa Claus suit shows up. It’s the police chief…and he’s the housemother’s husband! Some nerdy kid shoots the chief with the crossbow, and finally we’re done. Except for the final shot of one of the girls dancing around, singing. I’m not sure what that was about. Personally, I don’t really care. I’m just glad it’s over.

So, anyway, don’t rent To All A Goodnight. It’s amateurish beyond belief, and after the first 20 minutes, the seconds fly by like hours. The girls are so awesomely unpleasant that you’ll be glad they’re dying off; but at the end, you’ll be sorry that a few of them managed to survive (even after….again…NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE when they had plenty of chances to escape!). If you’re in the mood for a Christmas movie, watch Black Christmas. And if you need to see a group of mean women making cracks at each other, check out All About Eve and just pretend that at one point Bette Davis uses an airplane to decapitate Marilyn Monroe. Hey…you know she probably wanted to in real life.


1 comment:

  1. I fully get your reasons, but I kinda dug this. I would only rate it 3 out of 5, but it does have a whole slew of what would later become cliches. I'm not saying that's where they all came from, but this does feature plenty of things that would be heavily used in slasher flicks.

    By no means great, but I can semi enjoy it.

    Dave (posting as anonymous since I cannot for some reason log in to any of my accounts here)