Adamantium Bullet
31Oct/18

31 Days Of Horror: NIGHT WARNING (aka BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER)

For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror film a day leading up to Halloween. Each film will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All will be endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s “All 80s” edition of 31 DAYS OF HORROR.

In this episode, J Bryant and AngieBee discuss the super sleazy 1982 sicko shocker NIGHT WARNING (aka BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER) starring Jimmy McNichol, Susan Tyrell, Bo Svenson, Julia Duffy, and Bill Paxton.

NIGHT WARNING (also known as BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER) tells the tale of bigoted police detective (Bo Svenson) Joe Carlson, whose homophobia leads him to try to frame high school basketball player Billy Lynch (Jimmy McNichol) for the murder of a television repairman when he becomes convinced that the killing was the result of a love triangle. Unbeknownst to the detective, Billy's aunt Cheryl (Susan Tyrrell) is the real killer; having harbored incestuous fantasies towards Billy for years, his impending graduation has caused long dormant homicidal urges to resurface. Joe's continued plaguing of Billy causes Cheryl to become progressively more unstable, ultimately jeopardizing the lives of everyone around her.

Eight. Five guys and three gals. Though, to be fair, Phil died twice which we guess means the BODY COUNT is nine rather than eight? Maybe? We’re not sure exactly how we're supposed to count a kill that involves only one kill but was shown from two different viewpoints, one being the actual kill and the other being a theorized kill. You know what? We’re sticking with eight. The theorized kill, even though it was shown, was a fake. Fake kills don’t count.

Less than two minutes into NIGHT WARNING, Mama Lynch (Kay Kimler) and Daddy Lynch (Gary Baxley) are completely annihilated when the brakes on their car give out, sending them speeding down a mountainside road directly into the rear of a truck hauling telephone poles (Daddy Lynch takes one of the poles TO THE FACEno pun intended). And as if that wasn’t gruesome enough, the car then - Mama Lynch still very much alive - goes sailing off the side of a cliff and crashed, upside down, into a riverbed, where it then exploded. Unlike Phil’s fake double kill, this double kill definitely counted and earns MOST MEMORABLE KILL.

Fully nude Billy, loads of shirtless shots of his high school basketball team (one of whom is a young Bill Paxton), uncomfortable flashes of skin from Cheryl, and some topless action from Julia (Julia Duffy). There’s a little bit of NAKEDNESS for everyone to enjoy. Huzzah!

Even with all its crazy f*cking plot twists and performances, nothing topped the MOST MEMORABLE KILL in terms of a SIGNATURE MOMENT. That's just such a crazy f*cking way to kick off a film.

Despite having driven to Cheryl’s house in the finale, Margie (Marcia Lewis) opted to escape danger and head home via a dark path through the woods during a thunderstorm. That IDIOT MOMENT totally earned her the machete to the gut she ultimately received.

Detective Joe Carlson, as played by the great Bo Svenson, was a walking “WTF?!?” MOMENT. Everything Joe did during the relatively brief runtime of NIGHT WARNING was wrong. Straight-up wrong. He was never right, or even close to being right. The very fabric of the character, and even Svenson’s performance, was off. For starters, Svenson was dialed to ‘11’ from frame one. There was never a moment where he was not completely f*cking bonkers. We’re not sure if he was drunk, high, or a combination of both during filming, but something was definitely up because he’s operating at a level of corroded camp that should’ve completely imploded his career. This performance makes Al Pacino’s in HEAT look dialed back and reserved. Even knowing Svenson continued working after this film, we’re still not sure how that happened. Most actors would have not gotten a pass for a performance like this.

Why wouldn’t they get a pass? Well, it’s simple: Svenson’s character Joe Carlson was scum. The character was scum and the performance was scummy. So scummy. Joe, we’re assuming, was supposed to be the hero cop at one point during the scripting stage, but in the final film he’s just f*cking psycho with a badge. He torments witnesses, suspects, and victims, treating all of them as if they were the killer. He’s a racist, cuffing a Latino perp at one point and sticking a gun in his mouth to interrogate him. At no point does he ever not think that Billy is the killer, even when hardcore evidence is provided that shows he was not.

Then there was the homophobia. The rampant f*cking insane homophobia. Joe might just be the most homophobic character ever committed to film. No joke. He believed Billy was the killer because he believed Billy was gay, and that Phil’s murder was the result of some kind of gay love triangle between them and Billy’s basketball coach. The basketball coach who, mind you, Joe threatened early on by telling him outright the town would lynch him if they found out he was gay. Later, Joe, for reasons that only scummy characters would understand, implied the coach was a pedophile. Oh and he also dropped a certain homophobic slur that begins with the letter ‘F’ a lot. No, seriously, A LOT. It’s not okay for that word to be used at all, but Joe used it too f*cking much. It was like every other word with this guy. That was all before the jaw dropping finale where he went full cray homophobe and tried to outright Billy who had to put him down like a rabid dog. So yeah, Joe was a “WTF?!?” MOMENT and probably will be the reason you won’t be suggesting this film to anyone.

> Daryl Hannah and Ally Sheedy both auditioned for the role of Julia. (IMDB)

> The role of Cheryl Roberts was written for Patty Duke. (IMDB)

Posted by J. Bryant

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