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3.5 out of 5 stars
After Midnight
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I do enjoy horror anthologies, as it allows for short stories to be presented in such a way as to appeal to their strength, that being that they're short (as a bonus, if you don't like one story, another is coming soon). Let's face it, if you tried to stretch some of these tales out to a feature length film, they just wouldn't work...keep it short and sweet, and move on...which is exactly what they do here in the film After Midnight (1989). And speaking of horror anthologies, I'm especially looking forward to the upcoming remake of the 1982 film Creepshow, along with Creepshow 3, both tentatively scheduled for a 2006 release...but back to this film...co-written and co-directed by Jim and Ken Wheat, the brothers who wrote the story for the movie Pitch Black (2000), the film features Marg Helgenberger ("China Beach", Species), Ramy Zada (The Judas Project, "Port Charles"), Jillian McWhirter (Strangeland), Marc `Jimmy Olsen' McClure (Superman, Back to the Future), Pamela Segall (Sgt. Bilko), Judie Aronson (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Weird Science), Nadine Van der Velde (Moving Violations, Critters), and Luis Contreras (Extreme Prejudice, Alien Avengers II), among others.

The film begins on a college campus where we see a blonde girl named Allison (McWhirter) meeting up with her friend Cheryl (Segall). It's the first day of class, and something isn't sitting well with Allison (probably her lunch)...actually, it's the course Cheryl talked her into taking, a psychology class the students have dubbed Fear 101. Here we meet Professor Edward Derek (Zada)...why he has two first names I have no idea...and we quickly see his methods are a bit out of the ordinary, along with learning his belief that to truly understand something, you must experience it...after a student complains about the Professor's unorthodox ways (there's always a whiner in the bunch), the Professor offers to hold seminars in his home, for those students truly interested in further exploring the subject matter at hand, outside of the restrictive college classroom setting. A handful of students arrive later that night as a storm begins kicking up, and the group begins passing scary stories around, the first being about a young married couple, out celebrating the mans birthday, finishing out the night by taking a midnight drive. Their car breaks down near a creepy, secluded mansion (legend has it it's a murder house) on a twisty, coastal road, and they're forced to seek help from within...a light indicates someone might have taken residence of the long vacant property, but I wonder if they'll be helpful...the second story involves four young girls out for a night of fun in the city (girls gone mild), but circumstances lead them to get lost in a very deserted warehouse district. After a run in with a greasy, crazed, knife-wielding drifter, his bitey dogs pursue the girls vigorously. The third story features Helgenberger as Alex, the lone overnight operator at an answering service who ends up taking numerous phone messages for one of her female clients from a real wack-a-doo. Obsession quickly turns to murder, and Alex soon finds out she's next on the mental defective's `kill' list.

The film consists of three proper stories, tied together by a fourth, usually called the `wraparound'. The wraparound story is generally the weakest part in the horror anthology film, as its primary function is to serve as filler between the stories and pad out the running time, and here this holds true. On the surface the wraparound tale here seems kinda cool, tying itself into the other three stories, but it uses a technique, which I won't disclose as not to spoil things, that I generally abhor only because it allows for so much leeway and opens the door for the laziness exhibited here near the end of the film. Things quickly switch from interesting to just plain bizarre, to which I immediately guessed what was going on and where the story was headed, thereby putting the kibosh on any surprise intended by the writers. As far as the various stand alone stories, I thought they were pretty well done, for the most part. The first tale featuring the young couple was a fun one, complete with a spooky house, great atmosphere, and good set up, but I did manage to figure the twist out before it was revealed. The second story seemed the weakest, as it involved no twist, and I found the characters fairly annoying and ultimately victims of their own stupidity. The good thing is the character I found the most bothersome ended up becoming kibble for the dogs, the bad thing is the rest didn't...the third story, featuring Helgenberger, was the best of the bunch, despite some flaws. The antagonist character was a bit over the top, and I couldn't figure out why Helgenberger's character didn't call the police immediately after she learned the stalker was in her client's apartment (she only called her boss). Seems to me this would have been standard operating procedure, but whatever...the pacing is quick, keeping you on your toes, allowing little time to figure out what's going on before the surprise ending. The good thing about all these stories is that they're kept relatively simple, move along well, and populated by professional actors, although I didn't care much for Zada as Professor Edward Derek. He's certainly a handsome man, but his portrayal felt odd only for the sake of being odd, and not a characteristic emanating from within the character himself (his dumb antics at the school would have surely gotten him fired, and most likely arrested, deservedly so). One aspect I liked was how the directors were able to develop some worthwhile tension at a number of points in the movie, keeping my interest throughout. The bad thing is the was a sense of predictability and familiarity throughout, but the effort was there (except for at the very end), and that counts for something with me.

The DVD has both the anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and fullscreen formats, and looks very clean. The Dolby Digital mono audio comes through very well, with no complaints. There is an original theatrical trailer included, but nothing else in terms of extras. All in all, a decent film with some good moments, but I'd definitely recommend renting before buying.

Cookieman108
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
I picked this movie up with friends one night on a whim at video store. It looked interesting and that it was. A four story suspense thriller. A college professor invites students over one night to talk about psychological studies of the mind. He begins to tell suspenseful tales of scary scenarios. Then the students play a joke on him. The end story is the most schocking one. All the stories are creepy and suspenseful. Very good story telling and writing also quite frightening a good horror movie with imagination rather than the usual gore and slash. One of my favorite suspense movies worth viewing with friends.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2005
Format: DVD
In the vein of stuff like Creepshow and the like comes a movie about a strange college professor (Ramy Zada), who attempts to provide to his students the most intimate understanding of fear by scaring them as much as he can.

So they go to his house and tell typical urban legends complete with women in distress, creepy phone calls, empty gas stations, and yes, a flat tire in front of a scary mansion. Well, it started all right.

The three stories are overarched by the story of the students in the professor's house, one that has its own sort of horror conceits coming in towards the end. In typical 80s b-movie bonanza, it's just a dream. So honestly, if you're looking for something--I don't know--compelling? you won't find it here. This is just something to have around for, like, television fright night specials or Halloween ghoulies for preteens.

Which is too bad, because the beginning of this movie points out something very important, something that I wish horror film makers would realize to a stronger degree and utilize correctly: fear is a profound psychological effect, and in a way, it's important to feel strong levels of fear to understand yourself more, how you function and who you are. Too bad horror movies then just throw all that stuff away for cheap skeleton effects, bugs, and cat-out-of-the-bag gags.

Oh well.

--PolarisDiB
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of those with four different stories connected by stories being told by a group of people. They all manage to be frightening, especially the one about the teenage girls and the very last on with miss CSI herself, I warn you to lock your doors and leave the light on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A college professor teaches a class entitled, "The Psychology Of Fear", using unconventional and controversial methods to get his message across (fear can only be understood through experiencing it). After being reprimanded, the prof decides to invite any brave students back to his home for further study. A small group shows up, and the storytelling begins. STORY #1- A young couple venture into an old, abandoned house after getting two flat tires. Of course, the place has an eeevil and mysterious history, culminating in shock and death! STORY #2- Four teen girls find themselves in the "bad part of town" while looking for a swingin' night spot. This leads to an evening of terror when they are confronted by a knife-wielding madman and his attack dogs! STORY #3- A late-night answering service operator (Marg Helgenberger from SPECIES 1 and 2, MR. BROOKS, tv's CSI) is caught up in a homicidal maniac's deadly night of revenge. AFTER MIDNIGHT is an exceptional horror anthology w/ a very good wrap-around story to anchor its three suspenseful yarns. Highly recommended...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I saw some positivie reviews for this set, and have been so disappointed in horror films lately that I thought I would try it. Each one of these little stories starts out with a good premise, and could have turned out truly frightening. However, bad writing, plentiful plot holes, and "forced" endings made them all, in the end, boring and ridiculous. I guess the positive reviews must have come from the writers and actors and production company owners--I don't see how anyone, unless they were trying to sell a copy, could find these as "excellent," which is what "five stars" should mean. If you like to be frightened, try the first few seasons of the After Dark Horror Fest: Eight Movies to Die For, the two seasons of Masters of Horror (and follow up one season of Fear Itself), or the Ghost House Underground collections.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This would be a great movie for teenagers to watch on a Saturday night.

It's based on an interesting idea which is what is fear.

It's funny because this guy is supposed to be a college professor but his teaching methods are unorthadox to say the least. Kids might actually believe that a teacher could do something like that.

This is one of those movies I had seen many years ago and then one day I started thinking about it and miraculously I was able to find it without knowing the title. I thought the star was Christoper Reeve so I searched on him but somehow found it even though it's someone else.

Jeff Marzano

Phantasm

The Thing from Another World
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on December 19, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The only intriguing story "told" by the students of a mondo-bizarro college class on "Fear" was the one with Marg Helgenberger and Alan Rosenberg about a night shift answering service operator and a stalker. The classroom scene is intense, though. I would set this one aside for a Saturday afternoon when you're padding around your pad, or the middle of the night when you can't sleep, or maybe for when you're not really focused on actually watching the movie. There was an interesting twist at the end, but the stories themselves lack any real tension/suspense and are definitely not what I would classify as "horror" the way I would "The Possession" or "Suspiria". I guess someone who finds campfire stories scary would feel differently.
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on February 26, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Three short stories with one wrap around story.
Each story offers something different. Nothing really gory, but good stories. The best stories are the first one, about a couple who break down and go to a roadside abandoned house for help, and the last story about a stalker. the middle story, about 4 girls going out for a wild night on the town and are running out of gas is good, but not as good as the other two. And the wrap around story is just so-so.
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on February 26, 2015
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
If you're a fan of horror anthologies, this movie will make your See List, because, frankly, there aren't a wealth of anthologies to be seen. If you liked Campfire Tales, Campfire Stories, Tales from the Hood and the like, then After Midnight will probably be fun for you. Simply put: we enjoyed it.
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