Night Life (1989) poster

Night Life (1989)


USA. 1989.


Director – David Acomba, Screenplay – Keith Critchlow, Producer – Charles Lippincott, Photography – Roger Tonry, Music – Roger Bourland, Special Effects – Ed French, Mechanical Special Effects – Frank Ceglia, Makeup Effects – Craig Reardon, Production Design – Philip Thomas. Production Company – Creative Movie Marketing.


Scott Grimes (Archie Melville), John Astin (Verlin Flanders), Cheryl Pollak (Charly Dorn), Kenneth Ian Davis (Roger Davis), Lisa Fuller (Joanie Snowland), Darcy DeMoss (Roberta Woods), Alan Blumenfeld (Frank), Anthony Geary (John Devlin), Mark Pellegrino (Allen Polumbo)


Nerdish Archie Melville works at his late parents’ mortuary under his sometimes harsh Uncle Verlin Flanders who manages the business until he is old enough to take over. At school, he is bullied by a self-important clique. Archie’s tormentors are then killed in a car accident and brought to the morgue. However, a lightning bolt hits the morgue and revives them as zombies.

The late 1980s saw just about every classic horror theme resurrected and bent to the formula of teen oriented horror movies – be it as spoofs like Once Bitten (1985), Teen Wolf (1985), My Best Friend is a Vampire (1987) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) or more serious films like Friday the 13th (1980), Fright Night (1985) and The Lost Boys (1987).

Night Life is what might be described as the teen version of Night of the Living Dead (1968). It is not a particularly inventive reworking of the theme – the zombies are revived without much ceremony and spend the rest of the film with no grander ambitions than pursuing the geekish hero and tomboyish heroine. A lengthy beginning with the bullies playing pranks on Scott Grimes with corpses and the problems with his uncle goes nowhere and feels like padding.

On the plus side, director David Acomba has a fluidity of pace and produces some halfway reasonable shocks during the latter half – although the zombie and splatter effects are variable in quality and Acomba has trouble making some of the effects like John Astin being blown up with a compressed air tube fit in with his less cartoony, more realistic approach.

The film also features a good performance from John Astin. All of this unfortunately isn’t enough and, although Night Life tries hard, it never has what it takes to go beyond the routine.

Night Life should not be confused with Nightlife (1990), a vampire tv movie starring Ben Cross and Maryam d’Abo.

Trailer here

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