In this episode of Pop Culture Beast’s Halloween Horror Picks, I talk about a criminally neglected cult gem that is also one of my favorites of the notorious Video Nasties – Night Warning (1982)!
Directed by by TV legend William Asher, this nearly forgotten hunk of genre insanity stars Jimmy McNichol, Susan Tyrrell, Bo Svenson, Julia Duffy, Steve Eastin, Marcia Lewis, and Britt Leach.
It also features a young Bill Paxton in his very first horror movie!
Billy (McNichol) is a whiny but affable teenager with a beautiful girlfriend and a promising chance at a basketball scholarship. Unfortunately, his legal guardian Aunt Cheryl (Tyrrell) is an obsessive loon who will seemingly stop at nothing to keep the boy in her care. When she stabs a man to death in the family kitchen, bigoted Detective Carlson (Svenson) tries to prove that Cheryl is merely covering for the real killer, who he is sure must be Billy, who he thinks killed the man during some kind of sexual tryst gone awry.
Night Warning (released on DVD as Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker) is a jaw-dropping, psychosexual oddity that also manages to be one of the first horror movies to positively depict a strong gay character. The only characters who espouse anti-gay sentiments are the villains, and Detective Carlson’s theory is explicitly portrayed as irrational homosexual panic. In this regard, the movie is especially notable for its handling of gay themes and characters, and yet it seems almost completely unknown to most horror fans.
Night Warning is a wonderful movie that benefits from the eccentric performances of its three leads. Bo Svenson is particularly menacing and so good here that he won an outstanding achievement award from The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. The film was also nominated for a Best Low Budget Film of 1982 Saturn Award.
If you’re looking for a forgotten, ridiculous, and totally entertaining 80s horror movie, check out Night Warning, aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker. I rate it a 9/10.
Look for new episodes of Pop Culture Beast’s Halloween Horror Picks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in October! You can watch past episodes HERE.
Ryan Stockstad is a Los Angeles filmmaker with a passion for horror, documentary and experimental cinema. He has written articles for HC Magazine, Mostly Harmless Magazine and various blogs and websites. He has lectured on topics as diverse as low budget filmmaking, short story structure, and the influence of the Spanish Civil War on surrealist cinema. He hosts new episodes of Pop Culture Beast's Halloween Horror Picks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in October.