Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Night Creature (1978)

A craptastic horror picture that can’t decide whether it's a supernatural epic about a magical feline or a tragedy about an egotistical patriarch who recklessly endangers his family, Night Creature would be utterly unwatchable if not for the presence of top-billed star Donald Pleasance. Many scenes revolve around shots of the offbeat British character actor staring into the camera, his huge eyes bulging with weird intensity, and Night Creature contains one of Pleasance’s signature freakouts, with the actor screaming like he’s receiving transmissions from another universe. Moreover, the execution of Night Creature is so incompetent and the story is so silly that Night Creature is unintentionally hilarious from time to time, even though the movie’s default mode is tedium. Set in Thailand, the flick begins with famous author/hunter Axel MacGregor (Pleasance) participating in a hunt for a deadly black leopard. Yet the leopard proves a formidable adversary, attacking and mauling MacGregor. The hunter then puts a bounty on the animal, so when the leopard is captured, it is delivered to MacGregor’s private island. He releases the cat for a private hunt, seeking to reaffirm his virility by killing the animal on his home turf. Unbeknownst to MacGregor, his two adult daughters choose that very moment to visit MacGregor’s island, so MacGregor soon realizes that he’s put his loved ones in danger. The setup is contrived and ridiculous, but it could have generated a few cheap thrills. Alas, cowriter/director Lee Madden never knows where to put his camera, and he either forgot to shoot important scenes or failed to recognize that transitional moments would be helpful. Even with a heavy narration track leading the way, Night Creature is confusing, especially when Madden creates the impression that there’s a spiritual link between MacGregor and the ferocious jungle cat. And the less said about the romantic triangle between MacGregor’s daughters and their macho guide, the better.

Night Creature: LAME

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