Monday, February 23, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Graveyard Shift (1990)

True story: I'm a big fan of Stephen King's work.  Honestly, if you dig books, what is there to dislike about the catalog produced by this literary titan?  He's an author who deftly weaves gruesome thrills and Americana together in intricate tales highlighted by memorable characters and sound writing.  Despite a few big wins (most of which aren't the horror yarns he's best-known for), I don't think the movies have been very kind to this maestro's work.  For whatever reason, many of the horror films his imagination has spawned that I do enjoy are based on his short stories.  Graveyard Shift is no exception, and this one takes its title and premise from one my personal favorites.  The story is a cynical and incredibly dark ode to the working man that certainly packs a mean punch.  The ending is absolutely masterful and despite its meager length, it conjures up some truly terrifying imagery.  Though it received little fanfare and far less in the way of acclaim, this 1990 film is one that I really like.  Taking the basic premise of King's story (mutant rats turn an attempt to clean out the basement of a decrepit mill into a gruesome nightmare) and running wild with it, the filmmakers are able to wring a decent picture out of a brief tale.  While this isn't a stellar movie, it offers little in the way of shortcomings.  The cast is game and includes Brad Dourif in a wonderful part as a doomed exterminator with a healthy dose of swagger, the effects are nifty, and the grimy atmosphere is perfect.  Ralph S. Singleton does a decent job with the direction and the end credits are a stellar mash-up of some of the film's most memorable soundbytes.  Clearly, no one involved planned on winning an Oscar; rather, they were simply aiming to produce an entertaining scary movie that would deliver a few jolts and a good time to those who chose to work the shift.  I think it succeeds--it's no classic, but it's a pretty damn good show for those of us who like things that go bump in the night.  Graveyard Shift surely earns a few bonus points with viewers who can get behind the plight of the working man.  If you've ever fantasized about feeding some dickhead foreman to a mutant rat, you may wind up thinking that this is the best movie ever made.

Final Grade: B-
"Spread the word, fuckers." -Tucker Cleveland

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