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BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER
(aka NIGHT WARNING)
dir. William Asher, 1981
96 mins. United States.
BEST OF SPECTACLE 2019:
SATURDAY, JANUARY 11 – MIDNIGHT
“A true gem of the decade – the 1980’s most twisted, bizarre cinematic vision of motherhood” – John Kenneth Muir, Horror Movies of the 1980’s
In honor of Mother’s Day, Spectacle was happy to present the crazed aunt-mother slasher-spectacular BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER aka NIGHT WARNING.
Susan Tyrrell (FAT CITY, CRYBABY) delivers an off-the-charts lead performance as Cheryl, a woman raising her nephew Billy as her own son—who she happens to have a deeply repressed sexual attraction to—after the accidental death of his parents.
When Billy decides to leave for college, Cheryl murders a man in their home—claiming he was trying to assault her—in a desperate bid to get Billy to stay. Her plan backfires when the virulently homophobic police detective (Bo Svenson, having a little too much fun) becomes convinced that Billy, caught up in a gay love triangle, is the real murderer.
A gonzo slice of Grand Guignol exploitation filmmaking from veteran TV director William Asher, BBNM is a strange beast —not quite slasher-y enough for horror and a little too lurid for the thriller crowd (it made the ‘video nasty’ list despite the relatively tame body count, and one negative review referred to it as “Tennessee Williams’ version of Psycho”).
Despite the exploitative trappings, and without spoiling too much, the film’s views on sexuality turn out to be surprisingly modern—particularly by 1982 standards—making this slasher oddity well worth another look.
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