Midnight (Greasy Shag Carpet Devil Worship Film)


Once more, the titans at Severin Films strike back with a fine piece of skeevy sleaze guaranteed to make you want to take a bath afterwards. John Russo’s Midnight was his first attempt to escape from under the considerable shadow of his former partner George A. Romero, and in many ways it fails but in other ways it succeeds admirably as a piece of primo drive-in goodness. You may not like it as much as I do, but you’ll feel this one in your guts. Nancy (Melanie Verlin) is a bright and carefree young woman with deep-seated Catholic roots and the outcroppings of teenage lust. Her stepfather (played in a very unique manner by legendary cinema tough guy Lawrence Tierney) attempts to commit incestuous rape and forces Nancy to hit the open road for California. Along the way, she meets a duo of petty crooks who evade the Police by camping out in the woods. What they find there will change their lives forever… I’m trying hard not to spoil any of the surprises of Midnight because it holds quite a few of them. This is very much a writer’s idea of a slasher film, as plot twists and character developments explode with each passing scene. The religious angle is explored to the fullest, as Nancy’s Catholic faith is put to the test against the very inverse of said faith. While this is very idea-heavy, the film itself is stylistically barren and devoid of directorial flourishes. This lack of finesse might be why several critics dismissed it out of hand back when Independent-International released it in 1982. However, if you’re willing to forgive such things…prepare for a drive-in experience so rich you’ll practically taste the summer sky.


Severin brings Midnight to Blu-ray in a solid package complete with some surprising extras. First off, the new 4K restoration from the original negative is a revelation for those of us who first became familiar with this flick through the Vidmark VHS or Lionsgsate DVD. For the first time, you can see that Russo actually did shoot certain scenes with an intended “look” to them. Whether he achieved it is up to you, but it’s nice to know that more care and thought was put into making this movie than originally perceived. The DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 audio are more than adequate considering that this film sounds best coming at you through a cheap car stereo. As far as extras are concerned, this one has a nice stack of goodies. You get an isolated score along with an extended interview with composer Mike Mazzei, as well as a quartet of insightful interviews with Russo, Sam Sherman, Tom Savini and co-star John Amplas. These interviews flesh out the production and make sense of it all. If you’ve got a taste for backwoods terror, wait until the clock strikes Midnight and pick yourself up a copy of this indispensable release from Severin. For those of us who love things like regional horror, hillbilly mayhem and films that just come from out of nowhere… you’ll thank me later.


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Written by David, Comptroller of Your Last Scrap of Existence

Midnight (2021, Blu-ray)
John Russo
4.5 / 5