I’m so on record for my love of John Russo’s Midnight that my words appear on the back cover of Severin’s new blu ray release of the film. So imagine my surprise that there’s a sequel to it and even better, it’s a lo-fi video exploration of the only survivor of the cult from the first film, Abraham Barnes (not John Amplas, but instead Matthew Jason Walsh, who has gone on to write 45 of his own movies at the time of this review).
The SRS DVD of this film (available on their site) has two versions, the released version and the unrated “first cut” of the film, and they complement each other well.
Taking place ten years after the events of the first film — don’t worry, a good portion of the running time of this film has clips of that movie, which juxtaposes the film and video media, which is strange but for some reason, I was totally fine with. I think if these movies were made anywhere other than Pittsburgh — and Akron, but we’ll get to that in a minute — I wouldn’t treat them with the love that I do.
What works for me is that Abraham stalks his prey in places I’ve been, mainly Point State Park (did he cross paths with Santa Claws in Market Square?) and PPG Plaza. He wanders the city with his video camera — at a time when such a thing was a huge burden and not the cinema-ready iPhone you carry now — and interviews subjects, looking for both victims and a mate so he can settle down and stop killing.
The first of those victims — in the released cut — is Jane (Lori Scarlett, a Cleveland-born actress who was Jane in Killer Nerd and Return of the Killer Nerd). She has the kind of haircut that bedeviled me in 1993, that asymmetrical blonde wave with shaved sides, which is what passes for punk rock in the Three Rivers (and Burning River, too). Abraham mentions that he can feel it deep inside his, well, member if a woman is true or not. She isn’t, she’s choked into oblivion and he moves on to stalking her roommate Rebecca (Jo Norcia, Zombie Cop).
Rebecca is caught between two men — or at least the movie asks us to believe this — Abraham and L.T. David Morgan (Chuck Pierce Jr., who is, you guessed it, the son of Charles B. Pierce), the cop who is trying to solve the disappearance of Jane.
This is one talky movie, but I kind of liked that about it. It realizes that it’s a low, low, low budget remake of an already low budget movie and therefore leans into it. Everyone was beyond excited in town when Silence of the Lambs was made here, so I don’t even mind that it’s referenced as the end all, be all of serial killer cinema. The only real issue I have is that the action moves from dahntahn to Akron without informing the viewer, but just about everyone who wants to see this lives in the area, so they’re going to cry foul. Then again, it originally came out from J.R. Bookwalter’s Tempe Video and that’s where the Ohio comes in.
The chair from the original comes back. This is more than just ninety minutes of trash, it’s ninety minutes of good trash because it’s nihilistic and mean spirited and has a scene where the female lead gets a biggie soft drink from Wendy’s, which I assume came from the one down on Liberty and she walked herself to get it and I’m a fan of slasher/giallo movies with Wendy’s food in them, which is all of this movie and Nothing Underneath, a movie in which Donald Pleasence takes full advantage of Dave Thomas’ salad bar offerings.