Nightwatch (1994)

NightwatchMartin is a young law student who’s looking for a typical student job: something that will earn him a bit of money but won’t get in the way of his studies. He ends up seeking a job as a night watchman at the Forensic Medicine Institute, which seems to be perfect. Just sitting there all alone at night, being able to spend some of that time studying. It doesn’t take many nights before paranoia starts setting in, and several unexplained things start happening at the place. Is the job just getting under his skin and fraying his nerves, or is something else at play here? Things get worse as one of the victims of an uncaught serial killer is brought in to the morgue, and just as Martin seriously starts wondering if he’s losing his mind, something happens that ends up making him the prime suspect of the murders.

 

Nightwatch (Danish title Nattevagten) is a Danish horror thriller from 1994, written and directed by Ole Bornedal. After Bornedal released his television film Masturbator (1993), he got the inspiration for Nightwatch after visiting the morgue, which he found to be “both scary and beautiful”. It made him think about how, on the outside of a morgue the daily life continues on, while on the inside you’re standing there with the realization that this is where everything ends. Upon release, the film was a huge success in Denmark where it sold 465.529 tickets. In fact, it got so popular that it ended up being a bigger box office hit in the country than Jurassic Park the previous year.

 

The movie starts out fine enough, with a quick introduction to Martin and the other main characters. When he gets the job and the old, soon to be retired, night guard shows him around, there’s a checklist of “rules” the guard advices him to follow: get yourself a radio. When going into the room with the stiffs, just look straight ahead and never to the sides. And so on. If this wasn’t a movie from 1994, you could’ve thought this setup was based on some kind of classic Creepypasta story. However, like with many things that happen in this movie, you’re thrown a load of red herrings already from the start in order to make you just as confused as the main character ends up being.

 

Originally, the movie was seen as a rather gruesome little flick, and while there are some topics that certainly are controversial (necrophilia, under-aged prostitutes, etc.) none of these topics are displayed in a manner that’s exposed enough to be adequately disturbing. Sure, it was probably an entirely different experience back in ’94 when Scandinavian movies didn’t have much to offer in the horror genre to being with, but seen with modern eyes it’s not really going to crawl under your skin. There are several effective scenes here though, especially when Martin takes his rounds in the morgue when he’s not sure exactly what is going on, and the scene of a grisly murder that happens during the soundtrack of a cheesy, upbeat Danish song (Lille Lise let på tå) that provided a perfect paradoxical effect. Overall it’s a fun and exciting thriller with lots of twists and turns, and although there are some slight pacing issues throughout, it keeps you entertained and guessing what will happen next.

 

While the movie was a huge success in its home country, there were some who didn’t exactly find themselves pleased with the whole situation. Apparently, the film caused a rise in number of people who had withdrawn their organ donation wills, and Professor Morten Møller claimed it was due to the film’s distorted image of doctors, students and researchers’ treatment of the dead and their body parts. He stated: “The movieNightwatch’ has certainly not had a positive effect on us. I don’t know what people imagine. That we should be sexually interested in the dead and want to lie down on their bed? A crazy fantasy that has not the slightest hold in reality.” Oh well…in any case, there’s no doubt that Nightwatch certainly had quite an impact in its home country.

 

There was also an english-language remake of the film released in 1997, also directed by Bornedal, and this year, a whole 30 years later, we get a sequel which is called Nightwatch – Demons are Forever. It was originally released in Denmark in December 2023, but it’s starting to hit the theaters elsewhere in May this year.

 

Nightwatch Nightwatch Nightwatch

 

Writer and director: Ole Bornedal
Country & year: Denmark, 1994
Original title: Nattevagten
Actors: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sofie Gråbøl, Kim Bodnia, Lotte Andersen, Ulf Pilgaard, Rikke Louise Andersson, Stig Hoffmeyer, Gyrd Løfquist, Niels Anders Thorn
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110631/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Leprechaun 2 starts way, waaay back in ancient Ireland where William is being hunted down by Lep through the forest, while he utters his first line that sets the tone immediately: “scream as you MAY, scream as you MIGHT, if you try to escape, you’ll be dead on this NIGHT, haha.” William has been his slave since he stole his pot of gold, but that’s no longer important. Now that he has finally reached his 1,000th birthday on St. Patrick’s Day, he can now claim something more precious: a bride. And the lucky one has already been chosen, the only thing holding back is that she has to sneeze three times. And if no one saves her soul by speaking  the magic phrase “God bless ya”, the poor girl is his forever, and then William is a free man. The only problem is that the girl is William’s daughter, and he cant have any of that. After he ruins the whole set-up by saving her from the worst marriage ever, Lep says he will wait for another 1000 years, and hunt down William’s whole bloodline, before he snaps the guy’s neck.

 

Then we jump to present day, to Los Angeles, exactly one thousand years later on the St. Patty’s Day, where we meet the teen couple Bridget and Cody. Cody works for his uncle Morty, who runs a shady Dark Tourism Ride which scams people by showing them false resting spots of celebs and murder houses. Morty is also a greasy alchoholic who’s always too drunk to drive as he just sits in the local Irish pub and drowns himself in brown liquor. And now having seen the three protagonists, our favorite host, Lep, emerges from a tree near Harry Houdini’s house to finally get the show started. His first victim is a bum whom Lep rips out his golden tooth before he starts the huntdown for his chosen bride. And who can that possibly be? Bridget, of course, who’s a descendant of William’s bloodline. Lep was a man of his words. It’s now up to Cody to save her.

 

Lep 2 hasn’t got much more to offer than bad acting, retarded silliness and the production value of a porn film. Warwick Davis reprised his role as Lep in the first sequels of five (!), and like in the first one, he’s once again the only reason to give this a watch. He has far more screentime compared to the first film, and more quote-worthy poetry-driven one-liners to entertain us with, as he goofs and giggles his way to one scenario after another. He’s even getting hammered in one scene where he has to prove himself, as the proud Irish he is, that no one can drink him under the table. The ice cream man Clint Howard and the Twin Peaks receptionist Kimmy Robertson has a short cameo as a tourist couple. And the rest of the characters are just bad actors who do their best by remembering their lines and look scared when the script says so.

 

The effects are trash. There’s one scene where we’re supposed to believe that Lep rips one guys finger off. You can see a mile away that he gently pulls the finger off a fake hand. He then licks on it and says with his manic voice: Finger licking GOOD! AAAAH…!!” Then we have the pot of gold that gets ripped out of someone’s stomach. I won’t explain how it got there other than it’s so laughable and poorly executed that I only wonder where the budget of 2 million dollars went.  There’s also a desperate attempt to appeal to the teenage audience by showing a second or two of Bridget’s naked boobs, allegedly performed by a topless double. This scenes also involves two spinning lawnmower blades, which Lep tricks some guy to believe are two big breast that’s waiting for him. A cheap, but memorable kill count.

 

The Leprechaun franchise is infamous for its total absence of continuity which leads to the big question: Is Lep 2 related to the first film in any form? No. Trimark Pictures actually had big plans for making a direct sequel where Lep would seek revenge on Tori (the protagonist from the first film), and they felt confident enough to get Jennifer Aniston back when they offered her a paycheck of 25,000 dollars. She refused, of course, which led any continuation to go completely off the rails, and every sequel was treated like a reboot or stand-alone film with different writers and directors who had no clue what to do with the franchise, other than trying to top the previous one with as much B-movie insanity as possible. Some other theory is that there’s a different Leprechaun in each sequel, just played by the same actor. But sequels or not, the films get crazier and crazier where we follows Lep’s quests for gold in places such as Las Vegas, in space, in tha hood, and it’s overall an amusingly bizarre franchise to dive into, especially if you have a soft spot for schlocks.

 

Lerprechaun 2 Lerprechaun 2

 

Director: Rodman Flender
Writers: Turi Meyer, Alfredo Septién
Country & year: USA, 1994
Actors: Warwick Davis, Charlie Heath, Shevonne Durkin, Sandy Baron, Adam Biesk, James Lancaster, Linda Hopkins, Arturo Gil, Kimmy Robertson, Clint Howard
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0110329/

 

Related posts: Leprechaun (1993) | Leprechaun 3 (1995) | Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) | Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) | Leprechaun returns (2018)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felidae (1994)

FelidaeFrancis, a tomcat, moves to a new neighborhood with his owner, and quickly gets involved in a series of cat murders that’s been going on for some time. He meets a local cat named Bluebeard, who shows Francis one of the recent victims. Bluebeard is convinced that “can-openers” (cat slang for “humans”) are behind these murders, but Francis disagrees and takes it upon himself to investigate this further. As he delves further into the mystery, Francis comes upon more mutilated cat corpses, a cat suicide club, a blind feline, and old VHS tapes featuring brutal experimentation performed on cats by crazy scientists. Francis tries to put all the pieces together in order to solve the mystery and find the culprit, while also suffering from terrifying nightmares.

 

Horror/thriller movies come in all forms, and animation is absolutely no exception. While some animated thrillers have become more and more known over the years (especially some anime classics like for example Perfect Blue) there are others that have been kept more obscured. So when opening the Animated Horror section here on Horror Ghouls, we thought it would be fun to start with a feature we expect few of you have heard of before: the German neo-noir cat thriller Felidae!

 

Now, don’t let Felidae’s cover fool you, this is absolutely no film for kids. While animated movies have never really been something that was supposed to only be aimed for kids, and have often targeted an adult audience, it’s a very common belief among a lot of people to believe that “cartoons are for children” (although those people are very, very wrong…but there are people out there who believe “Disney” is a synonym for “animation“, so what can you do). If a parent unwittingly brought this one home for their children to watch under the presumption it would be a kid flick, I hope the majority of them were smart enough to switch it off as soon as the first murder appears on the screen (which is pretty early in the movie). If not…well, then those kids ended up watching an animated film with nightmarish dream sequences featuring mutilated dead cats on puppet strings, mutilated cat corpses, horrible experiments done on cats, and scenes with Kama Sutra pictures on the walls. Oh, and a somewhat cheesy sex scene, of course. Much of the film’s murder plot would probably not be easily comprehended by children anyway…I doubt many 7-year olds would understand the film’s references to acts committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, for example. Felidae is purely intended for adults.

 

Felidae

 

Felidae was directed by Michael Schaack, and based on a novel by the same name written by Akif Pirinçci. This animated feature from 1994 has pretty decent animation, and especially the “puppetmaster” nightmare scene is quite awesome with its stylish animation (which appears a bit different from the rest of the film, and thus makes it stand out). There are a lot of scenes that are beautiful to watch, with atmospheric painted backgrounds. The character design is…interesting, in some places. While you have the protagonist Francis, a more natural-looking cat with realistic movements, you have some characters that are very stylized. Like one of the “bad guys”, Kong, and his two neutered henchmen. Still, the stylization of the characters doesn’t actually distract from the rather dark and realistic tone of the film.

 

The movie follows a typical noir detective formula, and the mystery behind the murders is a bit more complex than what you might be led to believe from the start, with references to eugenics and racial purity. At the time Felidae was made, it was the most expensive animated feature produced in Germany, costing 10 million marks (approx. 5 million dollars). It was mainly animated by TFC Trickcompany in Hamburg, but they also outsourced some of the animation to 10 different studios, from London to Seoul. While it did get an English version, it never got any wide release in neither the US or UK, but the English version was included on the German and French DVD releases.

 

Now, if you want to check this one out it’s almost impossible to get on DVD anywhere (except maybe a used one on eBay, which is how we got it actually) and it doesn’t appear to be on any streaming sites. So your best chance here is probably YouTube. The official trailer for this movie doesn’t include any of the violent scenes, so it has actually been classified as “YouTube Kids”. Probably just because it’s animated. So regarding that incorrect “all cartoons are for kids” belief many people seem to have, I simply rest my case…

 

Felidae

 

Director: Michael Schaack
Country & year: Germany | Denmark, 1994
Voice actors: Ulrich Tukur, Mario Adorf, Helge Schneider, Wolfgang Hess, Gerhard Garbers, Ulrich Wildgruber, Mona Seefried, Manfred Steffen, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Michaela Amler, Christian Schneller, Tobias Lelle, Frank Röth, Alexandra Mink
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0109791/

 

Vanja Ghoul