Late Night Double Feature is a film that looks to channel the absurdity and mania of late night horror TV shows (the kind popularised by characters like Peter Vincent in Fright Night), in particular in the context of the modern entertainment, a world where everything is somewhat creaking in this old format, and the horror is replaced by its own fatality. However, while elements of the film serve to reflect this concept well, ultimately the nature of its structure and a woefully disappointing arcing narrative leave the film struggling to survive under the weight of its concept.

The film is divided between the backstage of the late night horror tv show, a world of artifice where faux horror struggles to win the fight against the real horror of the cast and crew’s monotony, and the ‘content’ of the fictional show, Dr. Nasty’s Cavalcade of horror, comprising of two films, a couple of trailers for forthcoming films, and the inserts that connect the dots of the show. From the first instant, a tone of self-reference and a humourous bend on the world of cheap cable TV is well articulated and established, with lines such as ‘don’t worry, no one’s watching this anyway’ providing a comment on the detachment between audiences and lower end entertainment in a world of fast moving, constantly available content. It’s a novel approach, not as loyal to the source as something like Grindhouse, but in doing so initially makes the film more interesting as a result. However, once the narrative starts moving along, and the films within the film begin, the problems with the structure emerge, as it slips into over complication and parody without that crucial shred of irony.

The first film presented is Dinner for Madmen, and it proves to be an entertaining start. Following a failing chef who finds himself roped into catering for a most unusual dinner party, the concept feels ripe for satirical horror, looking at the divide between classes and human body at its most basic form…flesh. Unfortunately while it is unquestionably fun and features a few startling images, it proves to be too inconsistent to be truly memorable and doesn’t take up the potential that lies within. It doesn’t help that this film is interrupted by an intentional commercial break during a rare explosion of horror. It’s obviously an attempt at humour, but it feels unnecessary ; a cheap gag that harms the momentum, and ultimately represents bigger problems with the film, often overcomplicating elements that needed space to grow into bigger (or at least, more satisfying) ideas

Indeed, the occasional breaks in the film, the trailers and commercials, are a mixed bag, ironically symbolic of the film itself, attempting to play on cliché and convention for a burst of knowing humour, but without the sting of true invention for them to stand on their own. However, there is a standout in the form of a fake trailer for Encephalopithecus, with a clear reference to exploitation cinema, and in its title, the classic video nasty Anthropophagous the Beast, creating an entertaining compliment to the main features.

The second film is by far the film’s highlight. Slit is an extremely effect slice of horror, carved from something real, something the audience can locate to reality. The narrative is based around a male escort, who rather than sleeps with his customers, is paid to cut them. It’s an extremely interesting concept, that can’t help but find its way under your skin, as you are left with the depressing and brutal reality of these people who just want to feel something, tapping into the dark dislocation of modern society where people just crave a connection. The film opens starkly, but subdued before slowly ratcheting up the tension and the gore to the point where it’s so intensely physical that you can’t help but feel the pain as the camera closes in on the wounds as the knives slice through the body, bringing forth both disgust and sympathy. It’s a difficult balance, but in the short time Slit has to work with, it’s incredibly impressive. In fact, it’s disappointing that Slit wasn’t given more time, and even developed into a standalone film itself, rather than as part of a package that can’t stand up to its own subtle quality.

Indeed, after Slit, the film never recovers. The show itself is over and now an entirely forced subplot involving the cast and crew’s relationships that has been simmering comes to a completely overdramatic boil. It feels as if the filmmakers are throwing everything at the audience to make the gimmick seem worthwhile; even utilising some rather poorly miscued optical effects that are supposed to reflect the perspective of the increasingly unstable co-star of the show, but just feel cheap and tacky.

Late Night Double Feature is not a disaster. If you treat it as a novel aside, a parody of late night low budget horror, there is entertainment to be had, especially with Slit, which stands as an effective slice of visceral horror, born out of dark human desires, and does genuinely have the power to impact the viewer. However, the complete package is disappointingly flat as a cohesive whole, pushing a gimmick that doesn’t work to add as much depth as it could, and only serves to reinforces the failings of the film as a whole. Ultimately, Late Night Double Feature is a distracting mishmash of highs and lows, which will probably remain in the graveyard slot.

 

Movie Review: Late Night Double Feature
2.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk