Night of Horror is a 1981 American horror film directed by Tony Malanowski. The lower-than-low budget was apparently a mere $4,000. Although there are many productions often cited as ‘the worst movie ever made’ most critics agree that Night of Horror is genuinely a strong contender.
Nevertheless, the film still has its admirers. Malanowski followed this much-maligned movie with another Confederate soldier themed opus, The Curse of the Screaming Dead , later re-titled Curse of the Cannibal Confederates by Troma Entertainment.
In 2009, Malanowski was still making films about the American Civil War, albeit with a purely historical rather than horror theme.
‘Steve (Steve Sandkuhler) tells a story to his fellow bandmate Chris (Tony Malanowski) about an RV road trip he takes to Virginia with his brother Jeff (Jeff Canfield) to check out a cabin left to them by their father.
Also along for the trip are Jeff’s wife Colleen (Gae Schmitt) and her friend Susan (Rebecca Bach), who herself is somewhat psychic and can feel the presence of otherworldly forces the closer they get to their destination. Steve is immediately smitten by Susan and her Edgar Allen Poe – quoting ways and predilection for sensing the dead.
After a long trip in their trusty RV nicknamed Excalibur and a quick repair of the same vehicle, they reach the cabin and are then approached by the ghosts of Confederate soldiers who tell them stories about their dead captain.’ Plot synopsis by The Great White Dope
“We are treated to what feels like 10 to 15 minutes of watching the RV drive down various roads. There’s also a piece of black tape on the camera lens that is on there for a good bulk of the movie. How did the filmmakers not notice this? Our happy foursome finally end up stranded in the woods and are confronted by some civil war ghosts. Cut to 10 to 15 minutes of stock war footage. Finally, after that Night of Horror, the group reunite some old bones or something and head home.” Slasher Studios
“The script is so bad, you would think it was written by an elementary school drama class. The lighting looks like it was provided by a single spotlight, and there are smudges on the camera lens that stay on there for extended periods during the film. I would not recommend this film to anyone, not even fellow bad movie enthusiasts.” Vitamin Burger
” …there’s about five minutes of story here with a running time of fifteen times that, so most of the movie involves trying to pad things out […] In style, the movie reminds me of Manos: The Hands of Fate, but it even lacks that movie’s unsettling qualities; this one just drones on to no good effect. Quite frankly, this is one of the dullest stretches of celluloid that I’ve had the misfortune to negotiate in some time.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“The first forty minutes of the movie are absolute Nirvana. The performances, the acting, the look of the film. Everything about it is as perfect as I could want. These minutes are up there with The Last Slumber Party, Tales From The Quadead Zone, Don’t Go In The Woods, and Criminally Insane. Then, when you think it can’t get any better, the plot appears. And, the scenes get longer and darker and the battle begins in all its incoherence. By the time that patch of sky is visible, I am usually asleep.” Bleeding Skull!
” …something this willfully dumb, earnest and so bald-facedly entertaining in the face of its shortcomings makes the viewer pay attention to the story just enough so as to find themselves swept up in the dream-like badness of the thing. Night of Horror plays like a psychotic, stunted passion play for people who like to see scrawny bushy-haired guys crack up, women jump out of their seats inside immobile RVs, Civil War re-enactments pop up out of nowhere and bars made entirely out of paneling from your parents’ living rooms.” The Great White Dope
“The photography is so bad that at one point there’s a big black blotch at the bottom center of the screen for at least ten minutes. The acting (by Steve Sandkuhler, Gae Schmitt, Rebecca Bach and Jeff Canfield) is so poor that you can hear dead actors moaning in their graves. The piano music just drones on and on and the direction by Tony Malanowski consists of static shots of talking heads and Civil War re-enactment footage.” Critical Condition
“Usually, movies have some sort of redeeming characteristic, like good camerawork, a good score, good gore, or even if the filmmakers’ hearts are in the right place! Night of Horror does none of these things. It’s a strenuous exercise in sheer boredom with no good qualities whatsoever. No clever dialogue or writing, no gore, no deaths, no suspense (nor any attempts at building any), brief instances of atmosphere, monotone acting, and bad camerawork…” Obscure Cinema 101
“We are treated to what feels like 10 to 15 minutes of watching the RV drive down various roads. There’s also a piece of black tape on the camera lens that is on there for a good bulk of the movie. How did the filmmakers not notice this? Our happy foursome finally end up stranded in the woods and are confronted by some civil war ghosts. Cut to 10 to 15 minutes of stock war footage.” Slasher Studios
“Tony Malanowski has concocted an experience beyond the pale for all but the most dedicated students of anti-cinema. It feels like a dream you might have had under the influence of a bad drug, or a nightmarishly depleted and inertial scenario circling round and around in your brain during detox. Maybe I’m enthralled because it feels like it’s the end of the line for horror, for bad films in general. Is that it? Is Night of Horror the worst film I’ve ever seen? I have to say no…” Stephen Thrower, Nightmare USA
Full movie on YouTube:
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The ’80s Project: Watching Every ’80s Horror Film – 1981