The small town of Pakoe has 1,251 residents but that number is about to steadily decline because there is a killer on the loose. Wearing overalls, a burlap sack, and a pair of swimming goggles, the killer comes out at night and removes people’s heads from their bodies.
Sheriff Carl Carson (Kerry Knight) and Walt the coroner (Joe Fishback) suspect that the killer might be a disfigured handyman named Charlie (Chuck Whiting). Not only has Charlie been disturbed ever since he returned from Vietnam (where he served with Walt) but he also just happens to wear an outfit that looks exactly like the outfit that the killer wears. Charlie seems like the obvious suspect but, when he refuses to confess despite all of the evidence against, Sheriff Carson wonders if he’s really guilty.
The Night Brings Charlie has plenty of flaws. The acting is often amateurish and the pacing is slow, especially at the start of the film. For a film that only runs 77 minutes (and seven of those minutes are devoted to the opening and ending credits), there’s a lot of filler, most of it dealing with Walt’s daughters and their idiot friends. But, all of that aside, The Night Brings Charlie is not that bad. At its best, the film does capture the feeling of a small community under siege by a mysterious killer. (The influence of The Town That Dreaded Sunset is easy to spot, in both the look of the killer and the emphasis on on a town paralyzed by fear.) There’s a few moments of unexpected humor, my favorite being the killer taking the time to update the population number on the town’s welcome sign after committing his latest murder. Even better, the film has not just one surprise twist but two! Though the first twist was easy to guess, the second one was actually pretty clever and it did take me by surprise. Finally, while the first hour is slowly paced, the same can’t be said of the final 17 minutes, when the film comes alive. The Night Brings Charlie may start off on the wrong foot but it ends strong. Stick with The Night Brings Charlie and the film will pay off.
For a low budget, direct-to-video slasher that was made with an obviously amateur cast, The Night Brings Charlie isn’t bad at all. Unfortunately, it’s never been released on anything other than VHS but it can be found (with Spanish subtitles) on YouTube.