TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980) Reviews and overview [updated]

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‘You’ll scream til’ dawn’
To All a Goodnight is a 1980 American slasher film about young women and their boyfriends being stalked by a killer in a Santa Claus outfit.

Directed by actor David Hess (Smash CutBodyCount; The Last House on the Left) from a screenplay written by Alex Rebar (Home Sweet Home; Demented and The Incredible Melting Man himself).

The movie stars Jennifer Runyon (Bloodsucka Jones vs. The Creeping Death), Forrest Swanson and Linda Gentile.

The special effects were provided by Mark Shostrom (The Mutilator).

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“This film came at the start of the 80’s slasher cycle but still manages to be clichéd and repetitive. There’s the red herring (a Crazy Ralph type gardener), the twist ending, the tour of the dead, the deadly preamble, and of course, the useless authority. These are some common traits of slashers and they feel downright beat to death here.” 80s Horror Central

“Performances range from fine (Runyon particularly) to serviceable, the characters are no more dumb than in any other slasher film, there’s nudity (restrained) and gore (somewhat hampered by the budget), sex-then-death and stalking set-pieces including a few false scares.” DVD Drive-In

“Eccentric dialogue, bizarre hairstyles, a surplus of varied kill scenes, a baffling cameo by […] Harry Reems as an airplane pilot (a role you’d see Robert Kerman doing had this been an Italian film), and wildly random lighting and day-for-night shifts make it a great party film…” Mondo Digital

“The climax involves a Mrs Voorhees-style grudge-bearing killer beneath the Santa suit and, although Hess isn’t much of a director, the kill scenes are fun – highlights include a Bay of Blood coitus-interruptus and a unique moment involving a literal showerhead.” Horror Screams Video Vault

” …Hess’ killer has all the presence and panache of a Heffalump on rollerblades, duly plodding around the house without a nod towards building any modicum suspense. This Santa’s saving grace being an impressively varied sack full of goodies; he offs them with axe; crossbow; rock; knife…” Hysteria Lives!

“There’s enough weirdness to keep most forgiving horror and exploitation fans awake […] Harry Reems, for some insane reason, shows up in a small role as a pilot. The Santa outfit is quite creepy despite its lack of narrative relevance. The braindead dialogue is fun, as are the scenery-chewing performances.” Mondo Exploito

“It’s not the best or most original, but I think fans will enjoy the cookie-cutter nature of the formula going full speed ahead, the mean, inventive kills, and the creepy Santa killer. Not the best by a long shot, but certainly worth seeing once. At the very least, it’s passable holiday horror fare…” Oh, the Horror!

“There are facets to it that cause intrigue such as the twist ending, and of course the use of a killer Santa (way before Silent Night, Deadly Night) but generally speaking it’s a very forgettable slasher movie that would belong only in the collection of completists and avid Hess aficionados.” UK Horror Scene

“The film takes place over two nights and very few of the cast seem all that bothered by the fact one person has been murdered and several others are missing. They’re almost all more interested in getting laid again. Given that, Runyon’s character seems incredibly out of place […] It builds to a nice finish with an unexpected pair of twists and a final image that’s both chilling and poetic. It’s an enjoyable slice of early slasher history and one that deserves a reappraisal.” Voices from the Balcony


During Christmas vacation at the rural Calvin Finishing School For Girls, a student is killed when she is accidentally pushed over a balcony during a prank. Two years later, on the Friday before Christmas, the school is emptying out for the holiday; however, five students — Nancy, Melody, Leia, Trisha, and Sam — decide for various reasons to remain at the school, planning to have a weekend get-together with their respective boyfriends. That night, while the remaining girls have dinner, their classmate Cynthia and her boyfriend are murdered outside the school by an assailant with a hunting knife.

The others meanwhile coerce the innocent Nancy into giving their housemother, Mrs Jensen, milk laced with sedatives to make her fall asleep. After she falls asleep, the girls go to a nearby airstrip to meet their boyfriends, T.J, Alex, Tom, and Blake, who have flown in on a private plane. At the house, the group sit in the living room and talk. Trisha goes to the kitchen to get some beer but is confronted by someone in a Santa Claus suit and mask, who slits her throat. When Trisha does not return, Tom goes to find her. He is confronted by the killer, who chases him outside and smashes his head with a rock. The killer buries each body in the school’s garden.

Later, Sam and Blake get it on in the parlour. They are interrupted by the killer, disguised in a decorative suit of armour, who shoots Blake with a crossbow and decapitates Sam with an axe. Meanwhile, Nancy runs into the school’s groundskeeper, Ralph, who ominously tells her he believes something evil is about to happen. Melody, meanwhile, seduces Alex in her bedroom and gives him a handjob.

The next morning, Nancy finds Ralph’s corpse in the woods outside. A detective, Polansky, investigates the murder and suggests the students remain sequestered inside for the remainder of the weekend. He also surmises that those missing may be victims of the killer, or possibly perpetrators in Ralph’s death. That night, Jim, a police officer stationed outside the school, is murdered by the killer with an axe. Inside, Leia seduces another officer named Dan before going to take a shower. In the bathroom, she finds Sam’s severed head hanging from the showerhead. Dan rushes into the bathroom but is stabbed to death from behind as he enters the doorway. Nancy and Alex subsequently come upon the scene, and find Leia suffering a psychotic break, traumatized by what she has witnessed; unable to speak, she begins dancing and humming to herself.

Melody and T.J. meanwhile are outside, unaware of what has happened. They kiss under a tree, but the killer, hiding above, strangles T.J. to death with a garrote made of wire. Melody flees inside to find Nancy, Alex, and Leia; the four are confronted by the killer in the Santa outfit, who reveals themselves to be Mrs Jensen, avenging the death of her daughter who was killed in the prank two years prior. While Mrs Jensen stalks Nancy through the house, Melody flees back to the airstrip and begs the pilot, sleeping beneath the plane, to take her to safety; the two are killed, however, when an unknown person in the Santa costume starts the engine, slicing them to pieces with the propeller.

Back at the school, Nancy is chased by Mrs Jensen to the balcony. In a struggle, Mrs Jensen is thrown over to her death. A horrified Nancy goes downstairs, where she is confronted by a second assailant in a Santa costume; it is revealed as Polansky, who explains that he is Mrs Jensen’s husband. Polansky attempts to strangle Nancy but is killed with a crossbow by Alex. Together, Alex and Nancy flee the school, leaving Leia behind, dancing maniacally on the balcony, singing to herself…


The film was given a limited theatrical release in the United States on January 30, 1980, by Intercontinental Releasing Corporation (IRC). It was released on VHS in the United States by Media Home Entertainment in 1983. Due to a dark transfer, many scenes were hard to see in VHS quality.

Under license from current rights holder MGM, Kino Lorber released the film for the first time on DVD and Blu-ray on October 21, 2014. Special features include interviews with actors Jennifer Runyon and Katherine Herrington and co-producer and writer Alex Rebar and the original theatrical trailer.

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