“Slit your wrists, you f**kin’ b**ch.”
— The oh, so snotty and so punk DSZ, who, after the show, got their poseur arses tag-teamed by Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins in the back alley where Johnny Rotton urinates on them while Sid Vicious gives ’em a Doc Martin to the ribs.
A brain-eating monster-mutant baby and the San Francisco band the Nuns . . . together in a shot-on-video and direct-to-tape horror film. Here. Punch my VHS home video membership card. And toss one of those Clark Bars on the bill.
Okay, so let’s get the demon baby stuff out the way: Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive (1974) is afoot here, but not Lucio Fulci’s Manhattan Baby (1982), which seems like it’d be a demon baby movie, but really it’s an Egyptian tomb possession movie. But Night Feeder is a more expensive (and most SOV’ers are) kin to the Canux’er Things (1989), which, if you’re keepin’ SOV notes, was the first Canadian shot-on-Super 8 gore issued to VHS — and has its own monster-mutant baby. Sadly, with that cover and that fetal promise . . . this doesn’t deliver the over the top gore we anticipated.
Now, the baby, here, looks like George Constanza’s boss, Mr. Kruger, from Kruger Industrial Smoothing . . . with no offense to the awesome, and late, actor Daniel von Bargen, intended. But all offense intended to Sam, my boss, who keeps telling me to stop with the embedded Seinfeld references in my reviews.
As for the rest: There’s boobs. Lots of skin. There’s bad acting, really bad acting. And stillborn dialog with too much of that honey hush yakity-yak and not enough blades and blood to go with the boobs. And too much watered punk-to-new wave music and not enough blood. Where the frackin’ feldercarb is the mutant baby that’s sucking human skulls brain-dry and fillin’ up the slabs in the morgue where our cop gets to overact and underact and scenery chew (but the gore is decent).
So, what does San Francisco’s the Nuns have to do with this?
Well, they’re not the Nuns: they’re the band DZS, aka Disease (not to be confused with DMZ, who recorded for an album for Sire and are located in New York). And the DZS’ers are also a violent street gang. And the ubiquitous keystone coppers think the incognito Nuns are a sicko brain removal cult — or something. Well, their groupies have been either OD’in or found brain-drained around ‘Frisco, so they’re on top of the suspect list.
Oh, and there’s an ex-Vietnam vet street guy known as “the Creeper” dithering around that’s also on the suspect list. Why not toss Michael Moriarty and Christopher Connelly on the suspect list while you’re at it, SFPD? Where’s Harry Callahan when we need ’em? Oh, okay, we got that nosey (hot female) writer lookin’ for that “big break” on the case . . . as the “case” splatters across San Francisco’s new wave scene (shot on location in the actual clubs with actual fans and was shot by ‘Frisco artists and scensters).
Yawn. Okay. Where’s the gore?
Well, there some gouged eyes. Well, one eye, on each head, as that’s how the brains are removed. We got gooey zombie corpses. Dream sequence shock scares. We could have done without the female journalist and male cop romantic subplot . . . yes, just like that other San Francisco cop movie — with Harry Callahan — The Dead Pool (1988), you know, the one where Jim Carrey was “Axl Rose.” Oh, and our reporter: she’s roommates with the leader (the actor of) of DSZ, which is, again, actually the Nuns — but we wished this was a sequel with a subplot about Johnny Squares as an on-the-way up local, unsigned artist right before Peter Swann cast him in Hotel Satan, so Johnny’s record label got a bargain on a rock video shoot.
And that’s pretty much what this is: a police procedural without the Harry. And the Nuns ain’t the Gunners or a faux-Axl. And this ain’t a slasher. Or a horror. It’s a cop figuring out stuff with a reporter helping . . . and instead of it being a mobster or a vampire — as in the really awesome Robert Loggia mobster-vamp flick Innocent Blood (1992) from John Landis — we end up with a killer baby. And the baby takes almost to the end of the film to “birth.”
Cue the baby, finally!
While Night Feeder is an SOV, it is also a “regional horror” (we did a tribute week to regional horrors back in March) that played out in and around San Francisco. Then, the story goes: after its premiere, the film vanished from U.S. shores — only to rear its ugly VHS tape in Poland, of all places. Stateside audiences — well, everyone outside of Poland — finally got to see this uber-obscurity of the SOV terra firmas courtesy of a 2017 DVD reissue through Bleeding Skull and Mondo Video. Nope. Sorry, kids. No trailer or online streams of the freebie or PPV variety to be shared.
However . . . the things you discover when you “right click” IMDb hyperlinks to pump up the word count on a review — and create one-stop review shopping by going film trivia gonzos.
Anyway, unlike most SOVs, the filmmakers behind the scenes on Night Feeder moved on to bigger and better things. Well, the co-writers and director vanished in short order, but special effects artist Jonathan Horton, had quite the career. He got his start on the Dennis Quaid sci-fi’er Enemy Mine (1985) and worked on David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986), then moved onto Anaconda (1997). So, when the baby finally show up (and not for that long), that’s why it’s the BEST part of the movie.
Now, as you pick through the credits, you’ll discover that Night Feeder was made by women. Sure, Jim Whiteaker is a man, but at this point, since he never did anything else, could “Jim” possibly be a creative alias — for fear that a movie about a brain-sucking baby by a feminine creative team wouldn’t be accepted? (Check your David DeCoteau vs. Ellen Cabot credits.) However, our writers are Linnea Due and Shelley Singer. The producer — as well as the art director and editor — is Jo Ann Gillerman (and that’s her husband, James, on the score; he also co-produced).
The star here — amid all the men, be it cops or musicians — is Kate Alexander, as Jenna, our fearless “Lois Lane” reporter. Kate was a local ‘Frisco actor and also fronted two other SF-shot films: The Method (1987) and the comedy-horror, Kamillions (1990); the later has the same creative team as Night Feeder. Oh, and Kate was in something called From a Whisper to a Scream,which isn’t the Vincent Price-fronted omnibus we know; it’s a Yaphet Kotto-starring action film, aka Love You To Death (1989), that looks like USA Network “Up All Night” and Showtime “After Dark” programming plate fodder (I wasn’t aware of the film — until writing this review).
Speaking of which, Jonathan Zeichner, our detective, also did a soft-core “erotic” cop thriller, Deadly Desire (1991), with Kathyn Harold and Jack Scalia in the Sharon Stone vs. Micheal Douglas roles of the Basic Instinct variety. Support player Cinta Wilson (Victoria, here) worked her way up to So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993). And this SOV’er could have used an errant axe murder or a nail gunner of the Nail Gun Massacre variety . . . it’s cheaper than a latex mutant baby!