With so much of television now just fodder for streaming services, we may never have the days of Halloween specials and strange movies like this ever again. The world is a worse place for this.
Originally airing on ABC on Friday, November 1, 1985, The Midnight Hour is all about five teenagers causing hijinks in Pitchford Cove. Those kids, Phil (Lee Montgomery, Davey from Burnt Offerings all grown up!), Mary (Dedee Pfeiffer, Vamp), Mitch (Peter DeLuise, son of Dom), Vinnie (Levar Burton!) and Melissa (Shari Belafonte, Time Walker) steal all manner of costumes and artifacts from the town’s historical museum. But then they go too far and read a spell in the cemetery, which causes the dead to rise, led by Melissa’s great-great-great-great grandmother Lucinda Cavender.
While everyone else is having fun at a Halloween party, Phil hooks up with a mystery girl named Sandy who ends up being an undead cheerleader. Lucinda is also turning everyone into vampires to the sounds of “How Soon is Now?” by The Smiths, which is pretty amazing music for a 1986 TV movie (yes, I am that Charmed used this song too, but this is only one year after it was released and long before the mainstream found it).
The only way our heroes can stop the curse is to find a spirit ring that is in the grave of witchhunter Nathan Grenville, who is, of course, Phil’s great-great-great-great grandfather and perhaps more troubling, the former slave owner of our main villain. If Phil and Sandy don’t stop the spell by midnight, the town will be cursed until the end of time.
I can best describe this movie as a combination of recognizable talent like Cindy Morgan (Lacey Underall from Caddyshack), Kurtwood Smith (sure, he was on That 70’s Show, but we remember him best as Clarence Boddicker from RoboCop), Dick Van Patten, Wolfman Jack and Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ Kevin McCarthy with musical numbers and comedic scenes while also containing some truly horrific and frightening scenes. It’s a mish-mash. A monster mash?
It’s interesting to say the least. It’s the kind of movie that wouldn’t get made today, a movie that crosses genres and emotions while trying its heart out to entertain you. Director Jack Bender has gone on to direct episodes of Lost, The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.
This was released on DVD in 2000, but has become really hard to find, with prices as high as $400 on ebay! Luckily, the New Castle After Dark guys have posted it onto youtube! Enjoy!