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The Curator of Schlock #400 by Jeff Shuster

To All a Goodnight

David Hess returns to the Museum of Schlock.

The Revenging Manta (the ninja vigilante of downtown Orlando) was fishing around the corpse of Gary, the recently deceased corpse of a a fentanyl dealer disguised as a pizza delivery man. Manta found keys and we headed to Gary’s green Volvo. 

“Are we off to your secret hideout?” I asked as I plucked one of Gary’s teeth out of my hair. “I could really use a shower.”

— To be continued.

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Happy Holidays from your humble Curator of Schlock. This week’s movie is the 1980 Christmas classic To All a Goodnight from director David Hess.

Wait.

What?

The David Hess? Star of such movies as The Last House on the Left and Hitch-Hike? Indeed. Plus, he must have directed this the same year he starred in The House on the Edge of the Park. Busy man. 

Our movie begins with a fatal sorority prank. A bevy of college girls chase a frightened student of the Calvin Finishing School for Girls. Some are decked out as Santa Claus wielding axes. They chase the young student up to the balcony where she loses her footing. I wonder if a relative of the deceased girl will seek revenge in a couple of years. Wasn’t this the plot of Prom Night? Both came out in 1980. I suppose the screenwriters were plugged into the collective unconscious at the same time.

Did finishing schools still exist in 1980? I thought those went out in the 1960s, but maybe they still existed for the upper crust. After all, one of the main plot points of this movie revolves around a group of randy mean girls inviting some trust fund guys to a party at their sorority house. I think some of these young women are hoping to bag a millionaire. All except for Nancy (Jennifer Runyon), who’s pure and innocent.

Nancy will be the final girl, in case you couldn’t figure that out. 

So the girls are stuck at the sorority house during Christmas break, but that’s okay. They’ve got housemother Mrs. Jensen there to cook them beef stew and cherry pie. But not all is well at this school. Seems that there’s a killer roaming the grounds dressed as Santa Claus, stalking his next victim. You get some creative kills here. One involves a guy getting strung up with a wire garrote. I don’t know. I’m barely feeling the Christmas theme here. Maybe he could have ornamented a Christmas tree with body parts from his victims.

Come to think of it, there aren’t a whole lot of Christmas decorations at this school. No festive lights, no wreaths. We finally see a Christmas tree about two thirds of the way through. I wonder if the producers decided to make this a Christmas themed slasher about halfway through the production.

It doesn’t help that this is taking place in a sunny climate. Hey, I live in Florida, but when I think of Christmas, I think northward. Only an idiot would set a Christmas movie in Florida. 

And where is David Hess? He directed this movie, but didn’t star? Imagine this same premise, a bunch of spoiled brats living it up at Christmas time and David Hess shows up in Santa suit ready to party, but then turns violent when the rich pricks decide to ridicule him. Pain and humiliation gets heaped upon the sons and daughters of the wealthy. That movie writes itself.

To All a Goodnight is that kind of movie–one that makes you imagine better schlock that could have been.

You’ll yawn ’til dawn.

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Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495episode 496episode 545episode 546episode 547episode 548, and episode 549) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.