Night Warning

Part of the pleasure in arranging a month’s worth of Video Nasties in order of ascending “Nastiness” is that, at the beginning, a few of our favorites are bound to cause the sublime question: “Why on earth did the U.K. government ever think that this film was dangerous enough to be banned?” We’ll never know the answer, but thankfully it gives us an excuse to bring you Night Warning, a prime vehicle for the late, great Susan Tyrrell. Elfin, tawdry, foul-mouthed, and consummately theatrical, Tyrrell was once referred to by Pauline Kael as “an entire school of acting” — and once referred to by Rex Reed as having “a body like an unmade bed.” Here, Tyrrell creates a raging character that is impossible to ignore, and yet is strangely lovable in her totally misguided intentions. When lonely Cheryl sees that her only source of happiness, her nephew Billy (Jimmy McNichol), is about to grow up and leave for college, it sets about a series of increasingly deranged acts resulting in murder — and worse! Her mania is matched by Bo Svenson as a homophobic detective willing to ignore or manipulate evidence to prove his assertion that Billy is a gay psychopath. Essential headscratching wackiness.
Dir. William Asher, 1982, 35mm, 96 min.

Watch the trailer for “Night Warning”!