It's Christmas break at the Calvin Finishing School for Girls, and the students are planning a big party while the president of the school is away. A group of boys show up and the fun begins, until mysterious killer starts bumping off couples one by one. The police show up and promise to keep everyone safe, but they prove ineffectual against the crazed psycho. Could the killings have anything to do with the girl who was killed in an initiation stunt at the school a few years earlier?
I know most of us enjoy a good slasher flick, specifically if it's from the late 70s to the mid-80s timeframe. There were a ton of great ones including 'Friday the 13th' and 'Sleepaway Camp'. There was just something to these films that made us laugh, provided a few good scares, and had a good amount of gore. One of the most forgotten slasher films during this time is a little movie called 'To All a Goodnight', which was released in early 1980.
Jack of all trades David Hess took this project as his first and only film to direct, because if anyone saw this, they would have never hired him again, which is why he stuck with his acting and singing career. Hess mostly got his start by starring in Wes Craven's 'The Last House on the Left' film, which he probably thought he could make a movie of his own after working on a violent horror movie like that. If that's what he was going for, he missed the mark by a few thousand miles in every direction.
It's a miracle that this film exists at all, because it seems like Hess had zero talent to direct anything at all. 'To All a Goodnight' makes any Ed Wood film look like 'Citizen Kane'. With all of the technical problems, poor script, even worse acting, and utterly laughable scenarios, it's hard to believe anyone stuck through the entire shooting schedule, let alone allowed their names to be associated with it. I'm outright shocked that the good folks over at 'MST3K' or 'Rifftrax' have never made fun of this film. Maybe it's just too terrible to do. The only real recognizable person here is Jennifer Runyon who is most known for sitting across the table from Bill Murray in 'Ghostbusters' as he sends electric shocks to the poor male student next to her.
Well, she stars in this mess of a film, which was her big screen debut. Nothing makes sense in the movie whatsoever, as if Hess and his writing partner Alex Rebar had some general idea of a slasher going around killing people, but that's as far as they got with plot and characters, and just decided to sort of turn on the camera and film people running around and screaming as if they were in their aunt's basement, making a home movie. It's that bad. The movie opens at a school for girls where some of the students are hazing a new girl, and she accidentally dies by falling off a two-story balcony.
Cut to two years later at Christmas time, where half the girls are going home for vacation, and half the girls are staying in their housing at school. Most of the girls want to secretly have their boyfriends over for a weekend of sex and debauchery, which of course ensues, but is quickly met with someone dressed in a Santa Claus suit and mask, killing them one by one. There really is no rhyme or reason to it either. One couple starts to chat, ends up having sex, then is killed with some sharp weapon. Rinse and repeat for 90 minutes without a shred of character or interesting dialogue that would answer any form of a question.
The editing is so bad on so many levels that you can't help but ask yourself, "Is this a joke?" The dialogue doesn't sync up part of the time, there are missed cues and spots, and the gore is downright laughable, particularly in one spot where the filmmakers actually used red paper in place of blood splatter that flew off in the wind just like paper does. I had to rewind it a few times to believe my own eyes. That's the quality of filmmaking we're dealing with here. 'To All a Goodnight' is definitely a forgotten slasher film of the 80s, and it should definitely stay that way.
'To All A Goodnight' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. For a film that is 35 years old and that was made on basically ten dollars, this video presentation looks quite good. The image is mostly soft, given this type of low budget slasher film, but in well lit scenes, close-ups reveal some decent facial features and fine textures in the wardrobe. This image has never looked this good.
There is a nice layer of grain as well that never fluctuates, but is consistent, keeping the movie in its natural state. Colors are well-balanced and true to their nature. Everything is well-saturated and warm, given the Christmas time vibe. Black levels are deep for the most part and the skin tones are natural. There are still some instances of dirt and debris, but other than that, this video presentation looks solid.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix and does its job the best it can. Don't expect a fully immersive experience here as nothing is overly loud and robust, although there are some moments where people are screaming and the score crescendos where some high shrills pop up. Other than that, this is a decent audio mix. Dialogue is cleanly presented and is clear and easy to follow, although there are some sync issues, but that stems from the actual recording during production, not this transfer.
Sound effects are cartoony and never sound realistic. With this audio mix, you can definitely hear the mistakes made in the recording booth and on set. It's quite funny. If you don't expect too much from this here audio presentation, I'm sure you'll be mostly satisfied.
Interview with Jennifer Runyon (HD, 13 Mins.) - Jennifer Runyon, better known as the female student in which Bill Murray tests and likes in 'Ghostbusters' talks about her short career and time on 'To All a Goodnight', which she has fond memories of. This interview was conducted present day.
Interview with Kiva Lawrence (HD, 10 Mins.) - Kiva discusses her turbulent time on set with the director as well as how horrified she was with the editing. It's quite funny, although she expresses her love for Runyon.
Interview Alex Rebar (HD, 14 Mins.) - The writer/producer of the film talks about how they made the film on such a low budget and how difficult it was. He also talks about his own career and life.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'To All A Goodnight' is one of the worst movies you'll ever see on multiple levels. Not only does the movie make no sense whatsoever, but the technical aspects of the film are down right atrocious. It's laughable and not in a good way. Sure, you can watch this to make fun of it, which if you do, be sure to have a 12-pack of your favorite suds handy, because you'll need them to get through it. That being said, this video presentation is quite spectacular, given the age and low budget of the movie. The audio doesn't sound too bad either, although there are some sync issues but that seems source related and not transfer related. There are three interviews with the cast and crew in present day, which are worth watching, but other than that, feel free to skip this movie altogether unless you want to torture yourself. The only reason the movie portion even received a half a star is because there's nudity.