04 April 2011

Night Visitor

United States - 1989
Director - Rupert Hitzig
MGM/UA Home Video, 1990, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 34 minutes

This awkward combination of high school sex comedy and occult horror has possibly the worst theme song in recent memory. I’m sure it would be in close competition with any number of other themes if I actually did a masochistic side-by-side comparison, but right now it is sufficiently grating enough to warrant the two opening sentences of this review.

The plot itself concerns dweeby high-school senior Billy Colton, a kid with a well known tendency to fabricate stories. So well known that when his new neighbor Lisa (Shannon Tweed in her first entirely clothed role to my memory) turns out to be a hooker, his friends don’t believe him. Nor do the cops believe Billy when the following night he witnesses his history teacher Mr. Willard sacrificing her while dressed in Satanic vestments. But the story is not really about murder or Satanism, as the paucity and silliness of both elements illustrates. There is something beyond simple age which makes us adults, a social threshold we must cross before being accepted into the adult world, and the sinister and mysterious ritual central to this and other similar films, represents the final hurdle of childhood, the secret taboo of mature sexuality.

Stop, you're busted!
Billy is just on the cusp of becoming a man, and with his graduation imminent adulthood is staring him tantalizingly in the face. But something is missing. He watches through a telescope as Lisa entertains another client, looks up to where she seems to know that he is observing, and winks knowingly, beckoning, challenging, offering that final hurdle. The next night he climbs onto Lisa’s roof to watch through a window as she entertains another client. It is at this point that before Billy sees anything, Mr. Willard catches him. Thus cut short of something he doesn't quite understand, Billy spends the remainder of the film running around trying to get the cops (Richard Roundtree) his friends, or anyone else to elucidate what he saw, but in the end of course, he has to discover it on his own.

Most importantly this involves Mr. Willard’s capture and pending sacrifice of Billy’s best friend Kelly (Theresa Van Der Woude) the prevention of which proves to be that final step propelling Billy into adulthood. Throughout the movie he has shown, though not confessed, a romantic interest in Kelly, and being of course the only “virgin” among Willard’s victims, she is the only woman who can really be “saved”. Having achieved this, Billy is now a man and the final few minutes of this awkwardly executed high-school-sex-“comedy”/horror flick can be padded with scenes of the freshly minted adult couple frolicking in public, no longer intimidated by that last taboo.

 Oh no, her shoes are off. Does that mean she's "done it"?

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