Night Life (1989)

Rating: N/A

Dir: David Acomba
Star: Scott Grimes, John Astin, Cheryl Pollak, Anthony Geary

[2] Archie Melville is a teenager with a problem. He has to work in his uncle’s morgue or he won’t get to go to college. Four of his class-mates (two bimbos, two bozos) delight in making his life hell, at least until they are involved in a car accident and killed. By a quirk of fate (!), the truck they were hit by was carrying some nasty chemicals and before you can say “Return of the Living Dead ripoff”, they’re back, they’re hungry and they’re not worried about getting sued for violation of copyright.

That’s actually a little unfair. The zombie don’t really get their rotting act together until the last third of the film – the first third is almost standard high school fare with the usual assortment of sexual innuendo, etc. Enjoyable enough, if a little too well-worn to be more than fast-food film-making. Then, suddenly, CLICK! We switch to Morgue Mode and a few scenes in the mortuary which, while not especially bloody, have a nasty edge to them that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the tackier Italian movies and is completely at odds with what’s gone before. Gloomy stuff. Finally, just as you realise it’s the American version of Nekromantik, CLICK! The zombies are out, roaming the streets and after our hero.

Although there’s just the four of them, which might seem a little cheap- skate, good use is made of them and we get the first real gore of the festival; power-drill through the eye, exploding body and sundry other juicy bits of entertainment. This is probably when the film is at it’s best as the director finally pushes his foot to the floor to give us the excitement that is a little lacking in the film. The ending is pretty much as you would expect from a teen-age horror pic, though for one glorious moment I thought the director was going to give us a real downbeat finish. He wimped out, which just about sums up the tone of the movie. If it had tried to be just one thing it would have worked better – still, I enjoyed it as a whole, and you can’t say fairer than that!