Color, 1985, 85m.
Directed by Mardi Rustam
Starring John Carradine, Julie Newmar, Tina Louise, Karrie Emerson, Aldo Ray, Neville Brand, Amber Lynn
Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Media Blasters (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)

Evils of the NightTabooThe closest thing in mid-'80s filmmaking to Plan 9 from Outer Space, this daffy sci-fi/horror/softcore hybrid was marketed to gullible patrons as a typical slasher film but turns out to be something much stranger... and stupider. An incredible cast of waning Hollywood talents drifts in and out of this cheeseball drive-in curio that's too weird for T&A/splatter fans, too sleazy for old-time creature feature buffs, but just right for warped cineastes looking for a Z-grade wallow populated with familiar aging faces.

The very thin plot kicks off with an alien spaceship landing in a field near a secluded forest and lake, where horny adolescents are busy playing musical sleeping bags and toking up. The aliens (featuring the truly unique team of Carradine, Newmar and Louise) manage to harvest blood from the unsuspecting humans by taking over a nearby medical clinic and enlisting two grease monkey goons (Ray and Brand at his Klaus Kinskiest) to round up the fresh meat. Lots of sex, running around, screaming, and bloodshed ensue, complete with spaceship stock footage, glowing green space rings, leg warmers, axe attacks, and gory car repair mayhem.

The first official directorial effort from Al Adamson/Sam Sherman cohort Mardi Rustam, Evils of the Night pads out most of its first act with one sex scene after another, featuring blatantly stitched-in scenes with some '80s porn video stalwarts like Amber Lynn, Shone Taylor, Crystal Breeze, and the ubiquitous Jerry Butler (billed under his real name, Evils of the NightTabooPaul Siederman). Though other actors like Jamie Gillis and Ginger Lynn were trying to cross over at the same time, one can only wonder whether they thought this one would be their ticket out as well. Though Aldo Ray was certainly no stranger to hardcore (having appeared in the notorious Sweet Savage a few years earlier), it's more than a little odd (and depressing, depending on your viewpoint) watching Carradine and TV beauties Newmar and Louise intercut with footage of hardcore veterans groping each other. The second half of the film is where we really get down to genre basics as the young characters are tied up, chase, and generally menaced, with Ray in particular getting a lively and utterly ridiculous final showdown. Hey, it is what it is.

Barely released on the regional theatrical circuit by Aquarius Releasing, Evils of the Night hit VHS from Lightning Video and made its DVD bow from Media Blasters' Shriek Show imprint in 2006 with a pretty dreary full frame (open matte) presentation from a very dated master. That makes it all the more shocking to see how colorful and pristine it is on Vinegar Syndrome's combo Blu-ray/DVD package, looking as vibrant and shiny as anything they've ever released. It definitely makes the film a lot more fun to watch when it looks like a real film production instead of a DIY cheapie, and while Without Warning doesn't have anything to worry about in the slasher/alien sweepstakes, at least there's a lot of aesthetic pleasure to be found while sitting through this one now. The DTS-HD MA English audio sounds perfect, with optional English subtitles provided. In a nice and extremely welcome touch, the cheap but fun electronic Evils of the Nightmusic score by Robert O. Ragland (10 to Midnight, Grizzly) is presented as an isolated track, marking its first availability in any format (which should be reason enough for cult Taboosoundtrack collectors to indulge).

Also included as an extra is a 93-minute TV version (that's still way too bloody and sexually suggestive for most markets at the time) without the nude scenes or random Butler and Lynn bits (who are still credited at the end) but a lot more running around and extra dialogue (including way more Brand, Louise, and Ray), taken from what's cited as a one-inch tape master dating from 1987. Obviously much lower in image and audio quality, it's still a fascinating rarity to have here and in many ways it offers a more coherent viewing experience. Also included are a 24-minute reel of silent bloopers and outtakes (amusingly scored with the film's score and songs), a TV spot, and a rough-cut theatrical trailer. Offering a bit of context for the whole lunatic enterprise is a 9-minute “Alien Blood Transfusion” featurette with Rustam, which plays like a sequel of sorts to the one he did for Eaten Alive (a film he produced and partially directed when he temporarily kicked out director Tobe Hooper). He cites The Day the Earth Stood Still as a primary influence(!), covers the production based out of Agoura Hills and Malibu, and explains how his agent got the "retired" name actors to enlist in the production (though he misidentifies his big star as "David Carradine!"). An astonishing release in so many ways.

Updated review on August 30, 2016.