Dream On: After Midnight (1989, directed by Jim and Ken Wheat)


Prof. Edward Derek (Ramy Zada) teaches a class called The Psychology Of Fear.  He claims that the things that most scare us are the things that we can believe in.  (To quote the observers from the peanut gallery, “No shit, Sherlock.”)  After Prof. Derek demonstrates fear by pulling out a fake gun and pretending to kill himself, a jock ends up pissing himself and the class is suspended.  Fortunately, Prof. Derek has a backup plan.  He invites his students to his house, where he tells them three horror stories that are all designed to prove that the scariest things are the things that could actually happen in real life.

What does Prof. Derek believe to be scary?

In the first story, it’s scary when your wife decides that the perfect way to throw a surprise party would be to trick you into thinking that you’re trapped in a haunted house and you’re going to die if you don’t start chopping off some heads.

In the second story, it’s scary when a group of girls take a wrong turn, piss off the wrong gas station attendant, and end up getting chased by pack of killer dogs.

In the third story, it’s scary with an answering service operator (played by a pre-CSI Marg Helgenberger) starts getting calls from a psycho.

None of the three stories are really that scary but the first story does have a twist ending that would have made EC Comics proud.  The third story is the best, if just because it focuses on one character and that character is played by Marg Helgenberger.  There’s also the wrap-around story involving the professor and his students.  Just when that story’s getting good, it cops out with an ending that you’ll see coming from a mile away.

With the exception of Marg Helgenberger’s segment, After Midnight is a largely forgettable horror anthology film that will be best appreciated by viewers who are nostalgic for 80s fashion and cheap special effects.