Terror Reigns… – After Midnight (1989)

After Midnight is an anthology film about fear and what better subject for a horror movie than that. It all begins with some students who are taking a class with Professor Derek called The Psychology of Fear. Allison has reservations and as events start to unfold, she finds her personal fears justified as there is something different about Derek, especially about his methods.

This leads into the first story called The Old Dark House where a couple decides to take a drive when their tire blows out. They head to the old dark house in question to use the phone when some scary happenings take place. The two become separated at one point and Kevin is freaked out, so much so that when she tries to pull a prank on him for a surprise birthday party, he accidentally beheads her. Marc McClure and Nadine Van der Velde star in this first segment and while it had some good atmosphere, that surprise ending definitely saved it from being fairly tame.

A Night on the Town is a far more effective story as it features a kind of fear that everyone might have felt at one point in time during their lives. First, there is that moment when the four girls who star in this find themselves lost downtown in the big city, unsure of where they are or where to go. Then there is that moment when they are confronted by a man with the worst of intentions and while they escape him, they find themselves on the run from a pack of dogs. The dogs manage to kill one of them but with a little quick thinking, the girls manage to get rid of the animals before the rest of them find themselves on the other side of life.

By far, the best of the lot was All Night Operator which starred Marg Helgenberger as a woman who answers phones for a living and the story where fear was a little more prevalent. How can a person not be scared of a voice on the other end of the line that is threatening their life? The unknown is always a frightening subject and directors Ken and Jim Wheat tackle it quite well, giving that voice menace and deadly intent as the audience soon discovers. It leaves off on a perfect note letting that same audience know that Helgenberger is about to be killed without actually showing it, a tasty culmination of fear if there ever were one.

All of it would then circle back to that same professor as played by Ramy Zada who turns out to be quite the crazy himself, the film ends in flames until Allison wakes up to find herself back to where it all began, the woman simply dreaming or having a bit of precognition before going to his class. As a whole, Wheat and Wheat do a good job of it, the two crafting a solid horror film without too much blood and relying more on the senses and imagination of the viewer to bring it all home and thereby saving themselves a bit of money in the budget as well. Each story worked well, the overall theme of fear playing into everything which was good to see and it definitely made this film the better for it. If one is looking for something just a little bit different in the horror department or is simply a fan of anthologies After Midnight will do the trick.

3.5 out of 5

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