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LAWRENCE TIERNEY CINEMA 'MIDNIGHT' WITH MELANIE VERLIN

Melanie Verlin rides a groovy van to hillbilly hell YEAR: 1982
A teenage girl runs away from home, and with good reason: Her alcoholic cop step-dad, played by Lawrence Tierney, tried to rape her, and the Noir icon/future RESERVOIR DOGS actor is always an intimidating presence on (and off) screen...

It was actually a book
Although he's a medium-heat frying pan compared to the blazing fire that awaits, all in the name of "Girls In Cages" drive-in exploitation: Our tomboy heroine, Nancy, played with natural ease by Melanie Verlin, makes for a terrific ambiguous, semi-androgynous, exploitation pawn.

The following sequence (as these kind of movies roll more in numerous "parts" than the standard three acts) feels more 70's than 80's: Nancy hitches a ride with two college-aged guys in a van, and, since one is black, they face racism in a town so small it probably had to rent that one horse. Targeted as lowlifes, they purposefully live up to their name for an illegal beer run: A strange break of joviality while a sense of rural doom is palpable; or maybe with such a low budget, the grainy "last known photo" aesthetic has no choice but to thrust the characters (and viewer) into chaotic oblivion... and beyond...

Midnight Rating: ***1/2
Of course the biggest error is taking the inevitable off-road shortcut:  A bad mistake for the characters but heaven to the viewer, as, eventually, the trio faces a psychotic hillbilly clan ala TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE with plenty of violent, gory murders served up by makeup guru Tom Savini, who creates an eerily hellish nightmare – ultimately peaking with a satanic ritual at... you know... MIDNIGHT...

Scenes where Verlin and other tattered beauties are locked in dog kennel sized caged... in what looks like a crew member's kitchen borrowed for a day's shoot... are as uncomfortably lowbrow as lowbrow cinema gets, leading to a sporadic body count element that even, at one point, takes us beyond the claustrophobic walls to where the hunters hunt in bright daylight... But, soon enough, we're back to the victims awaiting their impending, mysterious doom...

Lawrence Tierney Vs Melanie Virlin in MIDNIGHT
And nearby, cute young no-name Robin Walsh plays the Gothic little sister, who more than practices black magic in a dark, candle-lit living room that almost looks like a real horror movie setting... almost...

Eventually, after all the sadistic, stagnant camera voyeurism, energetic revenge happens and, although it doesn't make up for everything our "sole surviving" starlet (and her dead cronies) goes through, she makes it work with determined gusto, more befitting an exploitation crime flick than horror. For these kind of movies to work, the actors (some of them "actors") have to seem beyond-real, like a sadistic documentary, and with ringer Lawrence Tierney bookended by the evil hillbilly brothers (who just happen to be local cops)... played by George A. Romero's lanky MARTIN star John Amplas and big, bald and buff Greg Besnak... MIDNIGHT, based on a novel by director John Russo with a remake in the works, is an exploitation curio that entertains from the bloody beginning to the bloody end.
Great shot here getting the feel of the lonely backwoods with star Melanie Verlin in MIDNIGHT
They're sure not Adam-12... G.A. Romero stock actor John Amplas and Greg Besnak play the killers...
Gothic girls are sometimes pretty hot, and here's pretty actress Robin Walsh as Cynthia
Midnight vixen Robin Walsh in full Satanic regalia... you'd think the movie was all about her...
Maura Minteer is one of the victims, and looks somewhat like Dey Young from Rock N Roll High School
Midnight ringer Lawrence Tierney doing a humpy dumpty imitation, which doesn't take much doing
Melanie Verlin turned up in Monkeyshines by George A Romero but alas, you can hardly see her
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