I’ve got a backlog of horror movie reviews written up that I need to get out of our queue, so why not start with a forgotten, ultra low-budget slasher oddity from the UK. It involves a group of stage actors held captive by two psychopaths during the last night of their play, MURDER IN THE DARK. The turnout during the run of the play has been disappointing, continuously being performed in front of a mostly empty house but tonight’s attendance should fair better as it’s the final show with friends and family expected to be there for a birthday party being held after the show. Just before the show begins, two psychopaths on the run after breaking out of a maximum security facility have decided to take refuge in the theater. While there they hold the cast and crew hostage forcing them to play a sadistic game. They threaten to kill their friends off stage if the actors on stage do not go on with the show.
Michael J. Murphy, semi-cult director of a handful of low-budget, British horror films, takes the phrase ‘the show must go on’ and twists it a bit, delivering a slasher film that attempts to show a mean, sadistic streak but fizzles at almost every opportunity. But even with all those ingredients, don’t get your hopes up as bad editing ruins some of these scenes and just overall bad movie-making ruins the rest. Most of the lighting looks as if a lamp without a shade was used while others are so dark you are wishing they’d used the damned lamp. The score to this film consists of a muffled, pulsing synth score that could easily drive someone insane. The acting from all involved is borderline laughable with the only exception being the lead psychopath, Mike. So why even take the time to write about a movie that really kinda sucks? Well it’s a UK slasher for one, and they are quite rare, and while not extremely gory, THE LAST NIGHT does have head shots, impalements, stabbings, multiple strangulations, throat slashings, and dash of necrophilia — all the things a growing slasher completest needs.
It’s a shame really as the overall plot was an interesting one that created some interesting scenes that came close to working. One has Mike holding a female stagehand in view of the actors, but not the audience. If he does not like their performance, he will kill the girl in front of them. Another has a man on his hands and knees while one of the killers slowly strangles him with a rope. While the victim gasps for air, the two killers carry on a nonchalant conversation about wine. In more capable hands, and not a victim of god-awful editing, this scene could have been pretty unsettling and even possibly entered someone’s list of most disturbing death scenes. The finale is also good for a couple of laughs, even though that was clearly NOT the intention. The only thing believable in the film was that the actors did seem to care for each other and long-standing personal relationships. But with all the things wrong with the film, this can probably be chalked up to the fact these people did know each other outside of the film.
Overall, THE LAST NIGHT is grade Z slasher fare that barely dips its’ toe into the sleaze before quickly drawing back. It’s not really worth taking the time to track down unless you’re just a die-hard slasher fan wanting to add it to your personal collection. You can finally pick up this film from SARCOPHILOUS FILMS who have released a double-feature DVD that includes this film as well as Murphy’s much better, although equally funded, INVITATION TO HELL. Everyone else should probably just stay away.
Rating:Tags: Horror, review, slasher, UK