Brothers Jim and Ken Wheat are a director/writer duo best known for the Riddick franchise and, my personal favorite, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. In 1989, the brothers decided to dabble in the wonderful world of horror anthologies, and as a result, After Midnight was born. The film focuses on the element of fear and the fact that we tend to truly fear things that can actually occur (being stalked and murdered) more than things that are unrealistic (having a monster in the closet). Like the majority of horror films from the 80’s, this film is far from being a serious movie, but it’s interesting to say the least.
The film opens with a very bold scene involving a terrifyingly handsome college instructor, Professor Edward Derek, introducing himself to his Psychology of Fear class. Derek demonstrates his philosophy of fear on a frat boy by pointing a gun to his head for a game of Russian roulette, causing to student to piss his pants. He then turns the gun on himself and blasts his brains out, but it turns out that he’s a psycho-jokester and this was a well-planned hoax. The school doesn’t agree with his teaching methods (obviously), so he is forced to have more traditional lessons in the classroom; however, he invites his students to his home if they’re interested in experiencing his unusual approach to teaching. A couple of bozos decide to take him up on his offer, and on a dark, stormy night, they share scary stories with one another.
In the first story, “The Old Dark House,” a married couple takes a late-night drive home after the husband’s birthday dinner, and their car catches a flat near a spooky old house. This is so cliché, but there’s a surprisingly dark ending. “A Night on the Town” is the second tale in the anthology, and it follows the story of a group of teens that sneak out for, well, a night on the town. This was probably the worst out of all the stories because the segment was essentially a pack of street dogs chasing girls through city streets. After about 5 minutes of watching the ridiculous dog chase, I was hoping for the dog to rip them all to pieces so I could move on to the next and final story, which was “All Night Messenger.” This one was creepy, but not as much as the “The Old Dark House.” A call operator is working the late shift all alone and gets numerous disturbing calls from an anonymous male caller. By the time I asked myself, “How the hell is he going to find and kill this poor woman?” he was already inside the building!
After everyone finishes sharing their tales of fear, things get really silly really fast. The pee-pants boy from the first scene returns with an axe and some rope to get revenge on the twisted professor, and then it’s just one very bad plot twist after another. After Midnight is the perfect choice when you just can’t decide on what to watch. It’s terrible, yet very entertaining. All in all, I got a lot of laughs out of this one, and while I probably won’t watch it again anytime soon, I think it will eventually make its way into my DVD collection.