Forgotten Flix

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Peter’s Retro Reviews: The Midnight Hour (1985)

Midnight Hour coverby Peter Nielsen

So, here we are! We’ve now reached the fifth and final week in this year’s October Spooky Flix Fest and I hope you’ve enjoyed our company this time too. Maybe you’re even curious to check out one or two of the movies we’ve talked about these past couple of weeks. If so, why not come back and leave a little comment about it once you’re done watching? You all know that we love hearing your thoughts too, right?

As I’m writing this I’m gazing out on a beautiful sunny day. The sun is shining down through the stunning yellow foliage onto the ground, which is covered with bright yellow-brownish leaves that light up when the sun hits them. Man, I love this time of year! And Halloween is just around the corner too, but before we get there, we still have a few treats left for you!

Last week I told you I’d have a great movie lined up for you and I’ll stick to that promise! I thought it would be fitting to have a look at one of my favorite Halloween movies, namely The Midnight Hour from 1985! So… without further ado, I’d like to welcome you all to a cozy little New England town called Pitchford Cove!

Phil's presentation

Phil’s presentation

The movie starts early in the morning on Halloween and the paperboy is preparing for his route. He puts on a skull-mask and a knitted beanie and the town is introduced to us as he’s going around on his bike delivering the morning paper. I’m already smiling at this point because I like this scene. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the movie. You get the feeling that everybody knows everybody and there’s a sense of anticipation in the air while people are preparing for the evening.

The opening music is great and the movie actually has a good soundtrack and score throughout. The score is done by Brad Fiedel who’s also done scores for movies like Fright Night, Blue Steel and the first two Terminator movies.

Hanging at the party

Hanging at the party

We’re then introduced to one of our main characters, Phil Grenville, played by Lee Montgomery (Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Burnt Offerings), who’s rushing to school so as not to be late for a presentation he’s going to hold there. We also meet his father, the local dentist, who’s played by Dick Van Patten and I don’t think he needs much of an introduction, right? Spaceballs and Westworld are just two of the many movies he’s appeared in.

Another prolific actor is Kevin McCarthy who plays Judge Crandall, the father of one of the other main characters. Mr. McCarthy has more than 200 credits to his name, including Innerspace, The Howling and Invasion of the Body Snatchers… both the original from 1956 as well as the remake from 1978.

At school, as Phil prepares a little history and Halloween presentation about the town, we get to meet the rest of the characters. The two girls, Melissa and Mary, are playing a game of Hangman on the blackboard and Vinnie and Mitch are playing a game involving coins and Mitch losing.

Shari Belafonte, who’s mostly known from the TV-series Hotel and also for being the daughter of Harry Belafonte, plays Melissa. She just happens to be the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Lucinda Cavender, a witch who put a curse on the town 300 years ago. Coincidentally it was Phil’s ancestor, the witch-hunter Nathaniel Grenville who put an end to Lucinda all those years ago. Hence the curse! You learn all this in Phil’s presentation, by the way!

Mary is played by Dedee Pfeiffer (Vamp, The Allnighter, Brothers in Arms) and Vinnie by LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Roots). Mitch is portrayed by Peter DeLuise (son of Dom) and is known from such TV-shows as 21 Jump Street and Seaquest DSV. Judge Crandall, whom I mentioned earlier, is Mitch’s father and he’s a drunkard and kind of a douche.

Mary, Mitch, Vinnie and Melissa at the cemetery.

Mary, Mitch, Vinnie and Melissa at the cemetery.

Our five friends are preparing for the big Halloween party later that evening and Mitch has an idea… they’re going to break into the local museum and “borrow” the actual clothes worn by the witch and witch-hunter, to use for costumes. You just know this is going to turn out bad, huh? They also find a trunk belonging to Nathaniel Grenville, containing, among other stuff, an old scroll. Naturally they go to the cemetery to check these things out. Written on the scroll is some sort of incantation to summon the dead and all sorts of nasty creatures. Melissa recites the words, but since nothing happens, they all leave to get ready for the party.

But wait… Nothing happens? Well, that’s not entirely true, though, because when the gang has left, the whole cemetery basically comes alive and heads for town, lead by Lucinda Cavender who’s now apparently also a vampire and back for revenge. She’s played by Jonelle Allen from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman among others.

Not all zombies and ghouls are out to do any harm though. At least not at first! They just wander around town and some of them even end up at the party and since it’s Halloween and everyone are wearing costumes, no-one take any special notice. This makes for some hilarious scenes and I especially like the zombie who first arrives at the house. He really tries to get into the spirit of things and he sure loves popcorn! He’s played brilliantly by Mark Blankfield who’s also been in Robin Hood: Men in Tights where he played the blind guy, Blinkin. He also appeared in Dracula: Dead and Loving It as Martin.

There’s also a midget zombie at the party and he’s just too friggin’ cool, walking around as if he owns the place!

Sandy and Phil

Sandy and Phil

At one point when Phil leaves the party he meets a strange girl dressed in 50’s style clothing. Her name is Sandy and seems kind of sad. She tells Phil that she doesn’t really recognize anything in town and that it looks different. They drive around town, talking and actually end up falling for each other. Theirs is a sweet story, but unfortunately ends on a bit of a sad note. Sandy is played by the lovely Jonna Lee (Making the Grade).

As the story unfolds, the town gets more and more infested with ghouls, werewolves and vampires and it’s up to Phil and Sandy to set everything straight and end the curse! BEFORE midnight!

The Midnight Hour is one of my favorite movies and has been since I first watched it many, many years ago. It’s a perfect movie to watch around Halloween! It’s not too scary although it does have its moments, especially near the end where practically the whole town has been transformed. The scene where Sandy and Phil drive through it is almost surreal.

Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

The cast is excellent, and apart from the ones I’ve already mentioned you’ll also see Cindy Morgan (Tron, Caddyshack) as the kids’ substitute teacher and Kurtwood Smith (Robocop, That ‘70s Show) as the poor Police Captain who doesn’t really like Halloween at all!

Apart from the cringe-worthy dance and song scene, which I’ve never liked, there’s nothing I don’t love about this movie. And to top it all, we also get the LEGENDARY Wolfman Jack to keep us company through the movie! It doesn’t get much better than that!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this concludes my five movie-choices for this year’s October Spooky Flix Fest! I hope you’ve liked what I’ve presented for you in the horror-comedy genre? As I said five weeks ago, this is after all what Halloween is all about, right? Having both the scares and the laughter!

So, until next time… Have a Happy Halloween, my friends!


The Midnight Hour – Presentation


The Midnight Hour – Cemetery scene


About Peter Nielsen

Peter was born in Denmark in 1968, but moved to Sweden at the age of six, (not by himself of course), and has lived there ever since. He’s married and has five children, so spare time is somewhat of a luxury. His main interests in life, apart from his family, are long walks, books and movies. Any movie! He has preferences, but he’s not particular as long as it's good or... so bad it's good... he just LOVES MOVIES!