Night Warning (1981)


(director: William Asher; screenwriters: Stephen Breimer/Boon Collins; cinematographer: Robbie Greenberg; editor: Ted Nicolaou; music: Bruce Langhorne; cast: Jimmy McNichol (Billy Lynch), Susan Tyrrell (Cheryl Roberts), Bo Svenson (Detective Joe Carlson), Julia Duffy (Julie Lyndon), Marcia Lewis (Marge), Steve Eastin (Coach Landers), Caskey Swaim (Phil Brody), Britt Leach (Sergeant Cook); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Stephen Breimer; S2D Associates; 1981)


“Tyrrell gives her career best performance as the pscyho.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William Asher directs with a sense of kitsch this cheesy perverse B-film horror story; Stephen Breimer and Boon Collins turn in the gory screenplay by keeping the blood flowing and the story more than semi-literate.

Billy Lynch’s (Jimmy McNichol) parents die in a freakish auto accident due to brake failure when he’s three and his overprotective Aunt Cheryl (Susan Tyrrell) raises him in her big house in Flagstaff. The story picks up fourteen years later and Billy plays basketball for his high school team and dates Julie (Julia Duffy), who is scheduled to attend the University of Denver. Coach Landers (Steve Eastin) arranges for a possible athletic scholarship for him to that school, but auntie goes ballistic at the thought of losing Billy and refuses to let him take the offer.

Cheryl tries to seduce TV repairman Phil Brody and when he spurns her, she sticks a kitchen knife in his back just as Billy comes home. She claims he tried to rape her, but lead investigating detective Joe Carlson (Bo Svenson) believes Billy killed Brody in a gay lover’s quarrel. The detective discovers that coach Landers is gay and Brody was his lover. The homophobic detective ignores the facts of the case believing the suspect is a closet gay and to satisfy his hatred for gays tries to bring charges against Billy, despite his colleague Sergeant Cook (Britt Leach) coming up with evidence that an older man Cheryl was seeing disappeared some seventeen years ago and hasn’t been heard of since.

The final act turns into a blood-splattered kinky slasher flick, as memorable incestuous psycho Cheryl goes on a killing rampage of anyone who gets in her way and in the end reveals some family secrets. She keeps her Billy boy home by lacing his milk with knockout drugs, as the not too swift lad finally catches on his guardian is as mad as a hatter and turns against her.

Svenson provides a great performance as the gay-bashing bullying cop; Tyrrell gives her career best performance as the psycho; while McNichol’s performance is credible as his character is caught in a squeeze play over his overbearing aunt, the hideous cop’s assault on his masculinity, and the gentle love of his Julie and his coach. The entertaining film ends with the McNichol’s character being declared temporarily insane during the rampage in his house and it leaves things fuzzy whether he loves Julie more than coach. As far as 1980s film go, it handles the subject of homophobia with surprising sophistication and especially so for such a raunchy film.


REVIEWED ON 12/27/2005 GRADE: B-