tek's rating: ½

Graveyard Shift (R)
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This 1990 movie is based on a 1970 story by Stephen King (which I haven't read). I first saw it in September 2016, and then only because it was in a set of four Stephen King movies. (The one I was really interested in was Silver Bullet, which I watched on Halloween 2015. The set also included The Dead Zone, but I didn't bother watching that, since I had previously seen the movie on TV, and didn't much care for it. But I did watch Pet Sematary in June 2016. That movie and this one were part of my "summer of horror." Oddly, I ended up rating Pet Sematary one and three-quarter smileys; half a smiley higher than I had rated Silver Bullet. And while I was watching Graveyard Shift, for awhile I thought I'd rate it with "meh" and some fraction. Later I thought maybe one smiley. But by the end... I wasn't even sure whether I should rate it the same, higher, or lower than I had Pet Sematary. Finally, I went with one and a half smileys, which is a quarter smiley less than Pet Sematary and a quarter smiley more than Silver Bullet. Despite this... I still feel like Silver Bullet is the only movie in the set that I'm really likely to ever watch again; or at least the most likely. So maybe I should rethink my rating of that movie, to make it the highest of the four. I really don't know. I suppose I'll worry about it if and when I rewatch it.)

Anyway, this movie starts with some guy who works in an old textile mill dealing with the fact that the place is infested with rats. He's soon killed by some unseen menace. Subsequently, the mill's foreman, Mr. Warwick, hires a drifter named John Hall to take the newly vacant graveyard shift. Most of the locals (a few of whom work at the mill) are assholes toward John, but he doesn't pay them any mind. However, he's quickly befriended by another worker at the mill, a woman named Jane, whom Warwick has been sexually harassing. There's another woman who works at the mill, named Nordello, who I guess has been sleeping with Warwick, but... that ends badly. And there's another mill worker who ends up being killed, which is when we get our first glimpse of the thing that's doing the killing, though what it actually is still isn't fully revealed. After that, Warwick hires a guy named Carmichael to fill that position (though I don't think anyone actually realizes the guy is dead, they just think he disappeared). Anyway, aside from everyone's regular jobs, Warwick wants them to work on cleaning up the mill's basement, which is in atrocious condition. Naturally, the creature that lives beneath the mill ends up doing lots more killing, though Warwick himself also goes from asshole to psycho, eventually. Oh! And I can't forget to mention there's also an exterminator named Tucker Cleveland, whom Warwick had hired to get rid of the rats. (But of course there are just way too many of them. No matter how many are killed, there are always more.)

I guess that's all I want to say about the plot. But the movie gets pretty gory. And I don't think any of it is particularly good, so it's not surprising that it was critically panned. And I thought Warwick's (and possibly other characters') Down East accent sounded pretty fake. But honestly, I kind of enjoyed the movie. Not because it was scary, or anything, but mostly because it was funny. (And I actually am fairly sure that was intentional.) I think most of the funniest scenes involved Cleveland, who was a sort of stereotypical "crazy Vietnam vet." (One of the funny things is that he basically denied that, right before telling a crazy story about his time in Vietnam, which explains why he hates rats so much.) But there were other funny bits that didn't involve him. (I've already forgotten what they were, but I'm pretty sure there were some.) And I liked some nods in the movie to things like... well, the mill's owner (whom we never see) is named Bachman, which is a pen name King sometimes uses. And Jane mentions that she's from Castle Rock, which probably wouldn't have meant anything to me if I hadn't recently watched Stand by Me. And Cleveland's dog was named Moxie, which is the name of a local soft drink that I quite like, though most people outside Maine who've ever tried it (and even some who live here) tend to hate. (I also have a friend I met in college who called himself Moxie for awhile.) Anyway... as the film progresses, we see more and more bits of the creature. In the end... it's kinda cheesy, but still kind of scary, I guess. And um... over the end credits there's a... I don't want to say "song," but... a sort of musical mashup of bits of dialog from the movie. (I'm not sure if it was trying to emulate techno, or what, but I found it amusing.) And doubtless I'm forgetting other things I had in mind to say, while watching the movie. Like things that various scenes might have reminded me of, or whatever. But if I am forgetting anything, I'm sure none of it was important. Anyway, in summation, it's a fun movie if you're looking to be more amused than scared.


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