Children of the Night (1991)
If nothing else, Fangoria Films' Children of the Night serves as a very strong rebuttal to the notion that diehard horror fans are always the very best sources for a good scary movie.It's certainly not the worst vampire movie ever made, but it gets a ribbon for participation. Ridiculous direction, a terrible script, and a passel of actors all vying to win the Shatner Award for Clinical Overacting are just the most basic of problems at hand here.
Somebody's tripped over a hoary genre cliché and Awakened the Age-Old Vampire, who quickly spreads his evil throughout the quaint town of Allsburg, USA (I get that it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but does it have to be stupid, too?). Now, an ex-seminary student/grade-school teacher (Peter DeLuise), the only virginal girl in town (Ami Dolenz), and the town drunk ("Saturday Night Live" alumni Garrett Morris) must band together to save a bunch of folks who were unpleasant alive, never mind what they're like undead.
My first question is actually an open (and semi-hostile) query at the entire genre - why do you find ex-seminary students so interesting? Sometimes it works, like in The Prophecy. But here (and in the nearly as abysmal Bless the Child), it's just a lot of pointless blather that adds no extra dimension to the character. Can't a guy who teaches grade school know a man of the cloth without having bunked with him at St. Joseph's Academy for Aspiring Priests?
Of course, that's just one of far too many issues with the screenplay. Another is the dialogue, which sounds like it was written for a demented community theater actor (and delivered with just as much aplomb). Still another is a ridiculous cop-out ending which is supposed to be cute, but is, instead, quite offensive. C'mon Fangoria. I thought you guys liked horror films with guts.
Director Tony Randel (who had previously done the quite underrated Hellbound: Hellraiser 2) just goes for any crazy shot he can pull off, not giving a whit for the notion of a "consistent feel," so long as what's filming is flamboyant and eye-catching. Well, I guess that's a goal, but a fish hook could also catch my eye, and that would probably be only slightly more irritating.
What's really terrible, though, is that Children of the Night really had some spark of potential to be a brilliantly dark satire of the "All-American" image. It has many of the elements, although none are properly executed. It's simply a rotting mess.
On a positive note, Daniel Licht's musical score is quite pleasant, rarely overtakes the action, and has a solid feel of nostalgia to it. It may be the only wholly competent thing about the movie.
Of course, this isn't to say that the film isn't worth anything at all. Where it's terrible, it is also over-the-top, making it fine fodder for drunken (or sober) heckling. Gather a bunch of friends together around the glowing TV screen and let loose a savaged string of barbs. It's fun. It'll never be a cult classic a la Plan 9 from Outer Space (this movie actually has production values), but it certainly has its own fecal charms.