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Night Fright is a 1967 American science fiction horror film directed by James A. Sullivan from a screenplay written by Russ Marker (who wrote a similar script for an unfinished project named The Demon of Devil’s Lake in 1964).
Sullivan was a production manager and cinematographer on several Larry Buchanan movies and is credited as an editor on the infamous ‘bad’ movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966).
The movie stars John Agar (Tarantula; Revenge of the Creature; The Brain from Planet Arous) and Bill Thurman (1966’s The Black Cat; Keep My Grave Open; The Evictors).
In the UK, the film was cheekily released on VHS in 1983 by sleaze producer David Grant on his World of Video 2000 label as E.T.n. The Extra-Terrestrial Nastie – with the tagline ‘What’s 12 ft tall and eats people’ to cash in on Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi family movie and the British ‘video nasties‘ moral panic. British video renters were doubtless disappointed by the tame 1967 offering they rented on tape and, as Universal International Pictures threatened legal action, the opportunistically retitled release was rapidly withdrawn. During the same era of moral hysteria, David Grant was later imprisoned for distributing Nightmares in a Damaged Brain on video.
A Texas community is beset by a rash of mysterious killings in and around “Satan’s Hollow” involving some of the students from the local college. The sheriff investigating the deaths discovers the startling identity of the killer responsible for the murders.
It transpires that a NASA experiment involving cosmic rays has mutated an alligator into an ogre-like form and bullet-proof unstoppable killing machine with a thirst for blood…
Over-wordy and yet mildly amusing in places (especially the frugging to guitar music by The Wildcats scenes), Night Fright comes over as a vapid leftover from the late 1950s. That said, at least during that classic monster movie era filmmakers remembered now and again the audience needs to see at least a semblance of a creature from outer space. Here, all director Sullivan gives us are day-for-night shots of something we generally can’t quite see due to the poor lighting.
Meanwhile, composer Christopher Trussel’s score is overly dramatic to the point of ridiculousness. Alas, Night Fright is more Manos-like than Ed Wood fun trash.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
MOVIES and MANIA rating:
“Heck, if you took all of the dull scenes out of this movie, you just might have enough footage for a trailer. All in all, this movie reminded me of a Larry Buchanan movie […] The only problem is that Larry Buchanan would have made a better movie than this one, and you can’t say that very often.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“The monster in this movie must be related to Robot Monster. It’s a gorilla with three-toed footprints and an alien head. We don’t see much of it but we do see a lot of John Agar … The Wildcats provide cool instrumental music and the kids wear V-neck sweaters and white boots.” Michael J. Weldon, The Psychotronic Video Guide
“An unimaginative and poorly-made monster-from-beyond entry.” John Elliot, Elliot’s Films on Video
” …director brings no pace or style to the routine story. Instantly forgettable.” John Stanley, Creature Features
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