The Midnight Hour (1985)

I remember the awe with which I watched this made-for-TV movie as a child. I didn’t have cable, and The Midnight Hour came as close to HBO as anything I had access to outside of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on Friday Night Videos. This comparison is apt, as Midnight Hour‘s combination of solid production value and lighthearted, gore-free monster mayhem is very reminiscent of the Jackson video, sans the red leather jacket.

LeVar Burton and Shari Belafonte get top billing in the film — the other biggest names being Dick Van Patten and Peter “21 Jump Street” DeLuise — as two “high schoolers” (Burton being 28 and Belafonte 31 at the time) who inadvertently let loose a Halloween curse on their town. Belafonte is Melissa, a popular gal whose ancestor Lucinda (Jonelle Allen) was the slave of town hero Nathaniel Grenville and also happened to be “one of the most powerful witches who ever lived” — although really, if she was so powerful, why was she a slave?

Anyway, back in the day, Lucinda, using what Melissa refers to as “that old black magic,” put a curse on the town, causing the dead to rise, but Nathaniel put a stop to all that and had Lucinda hanged in the town square. (The racial implication of lynching a black woman is played down. This was on ABC, after all.) Fast-forward to the 1980s, and Melissa, Vinnie (Burton) and their posse of nogoodniks screw around and unleash Lucinda’s curse once again. The dead — which, for some reason, include a werewolf — arise.

The producers apparently wanted to throw in every type of monster they could, because although Lucinda is supposed to be a witch, when she rises from the grave, she’s a vampire. She bites Melissa on the neck and somehow possesses her, like a ghost. Most of the other corpses, meanwhile, resemble zombies. Oh, and there’s that damn werewolf.

The Midnight Hour was moderately creepy when I was a kid, and it still has its moments — although they’re distinctly PG-rated, with zombies who’d rather make out with each other than eat your brains. As an added bonus, about half way through, Belafonte breaks into a cheesy ’80s pop song called “I’m Dead, You’re Dying.” Did I say bonus? I meant agonizing ear crucifixion.

“I’m tired of you punk kids and your Pilgrim outfits!”
The latest Latoya Jackson video was just sad. 
“What’d you say about my mummy?”
Patty knew better than anyone that Obi-Wan was down with the swirl.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here