The new night watchmen at a newspaper office begins his first shift, expecting nothing more than monitor-viewing boredom and mild hazing from his co-workers. Unfortunately, a delivery mix-up lumbers them with the corpse of a beloved clown whose troupe died of a mysterious illness, and before long the dead rise and carnage ensues. After the guards team up with the only other survivor, a suitably foxy journalist, the quintet tool up and try to survive the night.
The wave of ‘80s nostalgia is still bringing in loving homages thick and fast, and it’s going to be some time before they begin to dissipate. Fortunately, this latest throwback to the decade’s horror comedies is as gloriously demented as it is meticulously reconstructed. And with an undead horde of vampire zombie clowns running amok, there’s a lot of fun to be had.
The Night Watchmen is one of the sub-genre that remains gloriously self-aware of just how daft it is, and refuses to apologise for it. Despite this, the characters play it completely straight, never once allowing the splattered histrionics to creep into their own performances, thus preventing the film from descending into self-parody while also making the mounting chaos all the more fun. The practical effects both emphasise the film’s throwback stylings and sidestep the problem with CGI blood never seeming to look quite right, and also allows everyone to end up drenched in body fluids, be it their own and other people’s blood or the black bile vomited up by impaled vampires.
The brutal action maintains the frenetic pace it sets for itself, while the anarchic humour keeps things from becoming too grim. The body count is kept high by some stock characters such as a skeevy boss, uptight office workers, and sexy ladies in tight blouses and short skirts destined to be ripped away for some gratuitous shots of boobs and butts. Between the bloody messes, running jokes about the characters abound, such as ex-marine Ken’s fixation on proper protocol, cultural illiterate Jiggetts being the most un-street black guy ever, and nobody bothering to ask the new guy’s name, instead referring to him by the tag on his inherited uniform. As a final grace note, every vampire lets out a colossal fart at the moment of death, because if you’re aiming for lowbrow humour you might as well go all the way.
Although the set-up and tone of the film is very familiar, it never stops feeling like something new. The story heavily plays up to genre conventions in some regards while completely ignoring them in others, and so manages to throw a few surprises at you when some encounters don’t play out in quite the manner you predict.
The Night Watchmen is a raucous riot that starts fast and never relents right up until its closing moments. It asks only your indulgence and delivers utterly, remaining a gory and hilarious ride every step of the way.
THE NIGHT WATCHMEN / CERT: TBA / DIRECTOR: MITCHELL ALTIERI / SCREENPLAY: DAN DELUCA, JAMIE NASH, KEN ARNOLD / STARRING: KEN ARNOLD, KEVIN JIGGETTS, MAX GRAY WILBUR, KARA LUIZ, DAN DELUCA / RELEASE DATE: TBA