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Hell Night | 40 Years Of Gothic Slasher With Linda Blair From ‘The Exorcist’

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A mix of gothic horror in the style of studio Hammer’s English productions, with teenage slasher films, Noite Infernal hit North American theaters in August 1981, after passing through the Cannes film market in May of the same year. In other words, this year completes 40 years of its debut. The big draw here is the presence of Linda Blair stamping the poster and performing in horror. The actress, of course, was immortalized as Regan, the demon-possessed girl in the Oscar-nominated classic The Exorcist (1973) – at the age of 14. But it wasn’t just the aforementioned film that received an Oscar nomination, and proving that Blair truly peaked her career with the supernatural thriller, the actress was also nominated for an Oscar for her supporting performance. in the feature film. And it takes prestige.

The success was so great that Linda Blair wasted no time and returned to play Regan in the classic sequence, in The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), at the age of 18; and made fun of it all (surfing a little more in popularity) with A Repossída (1990), aged 31. In other words, having experienced Regan twice at the launch of Hell Night, it can be said that Linda Blair was an icon of the genre, at 22 years old. Well, here we must also take into account, as I had already mentioned in another article, the phenomenon that occurred with horror films for teenagers (or post-teenagers), which earned the nickname of slasher. Halloween – The Night of Terror (1978) cemented and popularized, and Friday the 13th (1980) took the game to a new level. Thus, the following year, in 1981, these films reached their peak, with a veritable flood of titles of the sub-genre. And Hell Night was another of them.

Also read: Terror Slasher | The 40th anniversary of the peak of the subgenre in cinema

What really differs Hell’s Night from the rest, as has been said, is a Gothic atmosphere, with the film taking place almost entirely inside a mansion, with the appearance of a medieval castle, with a decoration intact by time. It helps that the film takes place following a costume party for college students, with the main characters dressed in the clothes of British nobles of the Middle Ages.

Written by Randy Feldman, who would later create the cop buddy flick Tango and Cash (starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell), Noite Infernal has a simple premise, but done in a very cold way, thanks to the directing of director Tom DeSimone – who has never managed to get a meaningful job in his career, this one being probably the most cultured, although still unknown to much of the public and not to aficionados. What DeSimone creates is a deliberate rhythm, which is not rushed by the usual murders or scares that drag young people into this type of product. Here the atmosphere is built with great security, which makes us fear every nook and cranny of the haunted mansion, often transporting us with the characters to such a mausoleum. Basically Hell Night is more for Halloween than Friday the 13th.

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The story follows a group of college students at a costume party. Of course, freshmen have to take a joke. So veteran Peter (Kevin Brophy) soon presents a challenge that will prove to be a truly “hellish” task. Four freshmen: Marti (Linda Blair), Jeff (Peter Barton), Seth (Vincent Van Patten) and Denise (Suki Goodwin) will have to spend the night in a bloody mansion. But calm down, of course, there is an urban legend behind the seemingly abandoned property. According to legend, the place belonged to a famous doctor who, after finding out that his children were born with a mental handicap, having locked them up for years in his youth, decides to kill the whole family and also commit suicide. Nice story to spend the night, right? The catch, however, is the fact that the veteran is planning a scary night and has already provided all the pranks and traps on the spot with his buddies. They just weren’t expecting anyone other than themselves to be hiding, setting up real and deadly scares.

40-year-old SPOILERS (skip paragraph)

The coolest thing about Hell Night is that the movie doesn’t bother to explain who the antagonists really are. And yes, I said “the”. What happens is that there lives some sort of ‘lost link’ creature, almost a big foot / sasquatch, a humanoid part of an ogre, who we assume to be one of the children of the family, now adult, living in the catacombs of the house. What he ate, don’t ask me. The skeletons of his family can be found (possibly) in the underground corridors of the property. But here’s the plot twist, when we find out it’s not just a big foot, but two cave beings living in place and sneaking up on the youngsters. Initially, however, the idea was for one villain, but the producers believed having a second element would bring some surprises in the third act of the film. Sadly, tragedy struck beyond the screen, and the German actor who plays the main “caveman” died in a car crash before the film’s debut.

Shot over a 40-day period, between November 1980 and January 1981, Noite Infernal followed the profitable formula to which several film producers have opened their eyes: Terror was cheap and made a lot of money for its captive audience. Here, however, with an initial budget of $ 1 million, the production had to increase the amount by an additional $ 400,000 to pay for the more expensive filming costs during the holiday season. The box office result was $ 2.3 million, not exactly a big hit, especially compared to icons in the genre like Halloween and Friday the 13th. In fact, many haven’t even heard of this movie. Did you already know that?

The consequence of this relative financial failure was the closing of the doors of the film’s producer, Compass International Pictures. And speaking of the production company, this is the same one that gave the world exactly the first Maniac Michael Myers movie, directed by John Carpenter, mentioned above, demonstrating the great connection between the films. Halloween, however, was the company’s only big success. But the story doesn’t end so sadly, as four years after it closed, company founders Irwin Yablans and Joseph Wolf created Trancas International Films and acquired the rights to the Halloween franchise, producing all copies since the fourth. 1988 film, including the most recent. trilogy in partnership with Blumhouse: Halloween, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends.

Speaking behind the scenes of the production of Infernal Night, some famous names got involved behind the camera in their first works in the world of cinema. One of the terrorist production assistants was none other than Frank Darabont, who would later become a renowned director nominated for three Oscars, with productions truly loved to date in his filmography, see Um Sonho da Liberdade (1994) and In Espera of a Miracle (1999). Another famous figure on the set, according to legend, was none other than Kevin Costner, before venturing in front of the camera as an actor. According to Vincent Van Patten, who plays surfer Seth in the film, Costner worked in production as an assistant cameraman.

And ending with the cast, male protagonist Peter Barton, who plays Jeff, would embark on the most successful horror slasher series in movies by living the character Doug on Friday the 13th – Final Chapter (1984) three years later. and getting his head crushed by Jason while taking a shower. Coming back to Linda Blair, as we know, the actress’ career unfortunately never took off the way it should. At the time, the actress claimed that due to the role in The Exorcist, she was branded and stereotyped by jovial characters and helpless victims. Thinking about taking a turning point in her career and showing that she could be seen as a woman of attitude and strength, an adult and no longer a little girl, she decided to pose nude for Yes magazine in 1982, after the launch from Hell Night, decided it was the last terror of his career. Blair’s move ended with the opposite result than expected, and his career was limited to genre films, B-movie productions, and small appearances on TV shows. The reality of the competitive world of an industry like Hollywood will always be more frightening and cruel than any terror we see on the screens.

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