Okay, so this is kind of a weird one.
The movie known as Bloody Movie was originally filmed in 1987, under the title Terror Night. However, it was never released. There are plenty of rumors about why it wasn’t released. Some people say that it was because the film was produced with Mafia money. Some people say it was because it used a lot of footage that was lifted from other movies and the producers apparently didn’t bother to clear the rights. Of course, it’s also totally possible that the film wasn’t released because it wasn’t very good. I mean, that does happen.
Regardless of why, the film apparently sat on the shelf for 20 years. It was finally released by Fred Olen Ray’s Retromedia and retitled Bloody Movie. That said, the DVD that I own (and watched for this review) was released by Legacy Entertainment and still had the Terror Night title. The transfer on the Legacy DVD was notably bad. From what I’ve been told, the Retromedia release looks a lot better.
Now, there’s a lot bad things that can be said about Terror Night. It’s low-budget, which is one of those things that can be overcome by a clever director but, in this case, it just results in Terror Night looking cheap. It’s poorly written, full of one-dimensional characters who were shallow even by the standards of a late 80s slasher. This is also one of those movies where formerly respectable actors pop up for five minutes cameos. Whenever one of those actors shows up, all the action stops so that they can earn their paycheck. Aldo Ray is homeless and doomed. Cameron Mitchell is a cynical cop and doomed. Alan Hale, Jr. is an affable security guard and apparently not doomed. There’s no real reason for any of them to be there but there they are! There’s also a biker couple who show up for no particular reason, along with the typical collection of teenage victims.
But yet, there are moments when Terror Night goes from being bland to being almost transcendently odd.. There are moments of comedy mixed in with some surprisingly mean-spirited death scenes. Necks are snapped. Heads are chopped off. Bodies are split in half. It all gets rather messy and the presence of all those old time actors makes the sudden gore scenes feel all the more strange.
However, the main thing that distinguishes Terror Night from the other slashers of the era is the identity of the killer. (And, before anyone yells at me, this is not a spoiler. There is never any mystery about who the killer is.) Lance Hayward is not a zombie like Jason Voorhees or a silent symbol of evil like Michael Myers. He’s not seeking vengeance for some crime in the past. Instead, he’s a former silent screen star. (It seems like Hayward would have been close to 90 years old at the time of Terror Night. He’s still surprisingly spry.) Hayward commits his murders while wearing costumes from his old movies. Adding to the strangeness of the whole scenario is that actual silent footage is spliced into the murder scenes. Most of the footage comes from movies like The Thief of Baghdad, The Black Pirate, and the Gaucho. You have to wonder if Douglas Fairbanks cheated the director’s father or something.
(Since Hayward spends most of the movie in costume, I’m assuming that he was mostly played by stuntmen. When Hayward actually shows his face, he’s played by one-time Oscar nominee, John Ireland. At the height of his career, Ireland co-starred in films like All The King’s Men.)
As to why a silent scream star would be murdering teenagers … well, your guess is as good as mine. It’s a strange film, a mix of gore and nostalgia. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it but I still always appreciate anything this strange.