aka: Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker, Nightmare Maker, The Evil Protege, Thriller to Death
Director: William Asher
Starring: Jimmy McNichol, Susan Tyrrell, Bo Svenson, Marcia Lewis, Julia Duffy
She was lonely. He was all she had. No-one would take him from her – and live...
Night Warning starts with a family who gets in a car accident and the only survivor is the child Billy. We then cut several years ahead and Billy is now 17 and has been raised by his aunt Cheryl ever since the accident. Billy is now a promising basketball player and is hoping to get a college scholarship. His aunt Cheryl however is not to pleased about the possibility of her only family member leaving the nest. The thought of being left alone drives her crazy and she starts to break all sorts of boundaries to keep her beloved Billy at home… forever.
Night Warning plays like a demented made for TV movie, but with a hint of slasher in the last 20 minutes. It’s character and plot driven and could also be classified as a bloody psychological thriller. Susan Tyrrell (Flesh+Blood, Rockula) does a fabulous job as the crazy aunt Cheryl. It’s a treat to see her work and she is just simply excellent in her role. Jimmy McNichol (Stranded, Smokey Bites The Dust), who portrays Billy, also delivers a good performance, making the character come across as complex and believable.
Bo Svenson (Inglorious Bastards, Sverige Åt Svenskarna) shows up as the homophobic detective Joe Carlson. I’m not sure if it’s unintentional or not, but I thought this character was funny. The movie plays very serious and when he walks around continuously calling Billy “a fag” (because he grew up around women) and also accusing Cheryl of wanting to sleep with her nephew, it’s just hard not to laugh at him. The latter claim also seems to be quite true as dear aunt Cheryl do have sexual issues.
Director William Asher had previously done a lot of TV work and some silly comedies. He does a great job with the actors (or was simply lucky to have a great cast), but he fails in giving the movie a distinguished look. The movie could have gained a lot by better camera work, but this is also a low budget production so I guess you can’t expect too much.
One thing that I can’t figure out is the choice of title on this movie. Night Warning? Really? What warning are you talking about here? Butcher Baker, Nightmare Maker? What? Evil Protege, what protegé? Thriller to Death sounds like a bad 80’s heavy metal album. Sometimes the simplest choice would be the best and I would suggest that “Aunt Cheryl” would have been a sufficient title for this.
Night Warning is a suspenseful, well-made movie that never deserved to be added to the British Video Nasties list. The murders are gruesome, but it’s all done in good taste and overall I thought it was quite good and worth checking out.