TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980) – The Dungeon Review!

David Hess of The Last House on the Left, House on the Edge of the Park, Smash Cut and Hitch-Hike directed To All a Goodnight! I definitely appreciate Hess more in front of the camera than behind it. Hess is one of horrors great bad-asses! I have no idea why he didn’t cast himself in the film! In any case, Hess is unfortunately not a bad-ass director. To All a Goodnight is not an attractive film. The lighting is quite bad and a lot of scenes take place at night and are not easy to see. Some SPOILERS ahead!

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A young woman attending the Calvin Finishing School for Girls is chased by a group of her peers and falls from a balcony to her death. We jump two years ahead and it is Christmas break at the Calvin Finishing School for Girls. A handful of young women have stayed behind and are being chaperoned by the school cook. The gals are planning on hooking up with some guys so they offer to do the dishes after dinner and drug the cook’s milk. Those naughty girls are going to pay when Santa comes with axe not sleigh!

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This is Nancy’s first year at Calvin Finishing School for Girls. She is younger than the other girls, shy and soft-spoken. Nancy gets a lot of focus in To All a Goodnight. She wanders by herself drinking milk looking forlorn. The always lurking groundskeeper Kramer has a crush on little Nancy and warns her he feels something evil is afoot. Nancy hooks up with the nerdy guy of the group who promises to protect her. Oy Vay!

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This cop holds Nancy’s face for a really, really, really, really long time. No really!

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Leia’s rich boyfriend has flown his father’s plane to meet her and has brought a few of his friends. Leia is confident, cheeky and slutty. She has sex with her boyfriend all night long and the very next night she is screwing a cop. So Leia gets naked to take a shower and discovers a head and when she turns around there is a killer Santa! But Leia lives! Why does Leah live? I have no idea. Leia spends the rest of the film dancing like a ballerina!

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The blazing red herring of the film is groundskeeper Kramer. It is a spoiler for me to tell you that. It is an even bigger spoiler for me to tell you he dies around mid-film. Personally I think they killed this character too early. I wanted to hear more of his “I am a man of the land and I know you think I don’t know nothing” speeches!

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I counted fourteen deaths which is a pretty significant number! A few of the kills are off screen but they do show most of them. Among the horrific goodies are a throat cut with fishing wire, a decapitation, an axe to the head, and a double death courtesy of an airplane propeller. They definitely mix up the eliminations. The effects seemed alright, but as I mentioned several of the scenes take place at night and just are not that easy to see.

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Here comes Santa Claus! Here comes Santa Claus! Right down Santa Claus Lane!

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There is a fair amount of talking in To All a Goodnight. They talk at tables, on couches, during sex…

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To All a Goodnight has two reveals. If you didn’t figure out the first reveal before it happens you must have fallen asleep! And the second reveal is just ridiculous! Oh Boy is it stupid! Gave me a good laugh though!

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To All a Goodnight is far too dark, has too much inane chatter and a pretty stupid story with a hilariously dumb twist. It isn’t without its highlights however. Fourteen people do die! Granted they do let three people live, but when they kill fourteen others I can forgive that. It definitely earned some points for its body count and for adding variety and it also gave me some unintentional laughs which didn’t hurt its cause. The performances were mostly passable. To All a Goodnight is a pretty mediocre slasher that isn’t going to change anyone’s life but as far as Christmas-themed slashers go it’s not the bottom of the barrel. I’m giving it a pass but enter at your own risk!

Dungeon Rating: 2.5/5

Directed By: David Hess

Starring: Jennifer Runyon, Forrest Swanson, Linda Gentile, William Lauer, Judith Bridges, Katherine Herrington, Buck West, Sam Shamshak, Angela Bath, Denise Stearns, Solomon Trager, Jeff Butts, Bill Martin, Jay Rasumny, Harry Reems

3 Responses to “TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. conradw58 Says:

    I agree,a so-so film enlived by a high body count. I strained my eyes in certain scenes trying to see what was going on! Considering the director,a real disappointment. The original Black Christmas is still my favorite Yuletide carnage film. There are several others that the old brain can’t think of at the moment.

    • Black Christmas is also my favourite xmas horror film. I really enjoyed a Finnish film called Rare Exports too. When it comes to xmas stuff I am a total sucker for all the Rankin-Bass stuff; frosty, rudolph, baby new year, jack frost…and also Christams Vacation, A Christmas Story…and especially How the Grinch Stole Christmas!! My dad was bonkers for holidays…always went WAY overboard! I slipped for a few years into a total state of bah humbug thanks to certain influences in my life but I’m taking xmas back man!!

  2. I remember seeing Black Christmas on the big screen,and it was unnerving! Rare Exports is another goodie!I all the Rankin-Bass holiday tales as well,and recall the very first airings of all of them. The Christmas movies you mentioned are great,too. I’m glad you’re back in the Christmas spirit!

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