‘You’ll scream til’ dawn’
To All a Goodnight is a 1980 American slasher horror film, directed by actor David Hess (Smash Cut; BodyCount; The Last House on the Left). It was written by Alex Rebar (Home, Sweet Home; Demented and The Incredible Melting Man himself). It stars Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson and Linda Gentile. FX were provided by Mark Shostrom.
Plot [taken from Media VHS sleeve]:
It promises to be an exciting holiday for the five young girls, boarders at the exclusive Calvin Finishing School. They have just drugged their housemother and smuggled in their boyfriends. A Christmas vacation frolic awaits. That is, until night falls.
During the party-filled night, members of this fun-loving clan disappear one by one. In a series of grisly scenes, a mysterious, masquerading, and mad Santa Claus hacks away at their ranks. The absence of their missing friends is overlooked at the next days picnic until one of the girls stumbles across Ralph Kramer. Someone has taken an axe to his head.
The police are notified and everyone is confined indoors. But with the coming of night, the bloodbath continues. The murderer’s victims meet their gory deaths as the maniac carries out his horrifying handiwork…
“Eccentric dialogue, bizarre hairstyles, a surplus of varied kill scenes, a baffling cameo by porn legend Harry Reems as an airplane pilot (a role you’d see Robert Kerman doing had this been an Italian film), and wildly random lighting and day-for-night shifts make it a great party film…” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital
“Performances range from fine (Runyon particularly) to serviceable, the characters are no more dumb than in any other slasher film, there’s nudity (restrained) and gore (somewhat hampered by the budget), sex-then-death and stalking set-pieces including a few false scares.” Eric Cotenas, DVD Drive-In
“This film came at the start of the 80’s slasher cycle but still manages to be clichéd and repetitive. There’s the red herring (a Crazy Ralph type gardener), the twist ending, the tour of the dead, the deadly preamble, and of course, the useless authority. These are some common traits of slashers and they feel downright beat to death here.” 80s Horror Central
” …Hess’ killer has all the presence and panache of a Heffalump on rollerblades, duly plodding around the house without a nod towards building any modicum suspense. This Santa’s saving grace being an impressively varied sack full of goodies; he offs them with axe; cross-bow; rock; knife…” Hysteria Lives!
“It’s not the best or most original, but I think fans will enjoy the cookie-cutter nature of the formula going full speed ahead, the mean, inventive kills, and the creepy Santa killer. Not the best by a long shot, but certainly worth seeing once. At the very least, it’s passable holiday horror fare…” Wes R., Oh, the Horror!
“There are facets to it that cause intrigue such as the twist ending, and of course the use of a killer Santa (way before Silent Night, Deadly Night) but generally speaking it’s a very forgettable slasher movie that would belong only in the collection of completists and avid Hess aficionados.” David Wain, UK Horror Scene
“There’s enough weirdness to keep most forgiving horror and exploitation fans awake. Porn superstar Harry Reems, for some insane reason, shows up in a small role as a pilot. The Santa outfit is quite creepy despite its lack of narrative relevance. The braindead dialogue is fun, as are the scenery chewing performances.” Dave Jackson, Mondo Exploito
Cast and characters:
- Jennifer Runyon as Nancy
- Forrest Swanson as Alex
- Linda Gentile as Melody
- William Lauer as T. J.
- Judith Bridges as Leia
- Katherine Herrington as Mrs. Jensen
- Buck West as Ralph
- Sam Shamshak as Polansky
- Angela Bath as Trisha
- Denise Stearns as Sam
- Solomon Trager as Tom
- Jeff Butts as Blake
- Harry Reems [credited as Dan Stryker] as Pilot
The film was given a limited theatrical release in the United States on January 30, 1980 by Intercontinental Releasing Corporation (IRC). It was released on VHS in the United States by Media Home Entertainment in 1983. Do to the films poor lighting, many scenes have been hard to see in VHS quality.
Under license from current rights holder MGM, Kino Lorber released the film for the first time on DVD and Blu-ray on October 21, 2014. Special features include interviews with actors Jennifer Runyon and Katherine Herrington and co-producer and writer Alex Rebar and the original theatrical trailer.
Related: Ho! Ho! Horror! – Festive Fright Films – article by David Flint