Maggie and her fellow film students, under the guidance of Mr. Davis(Tony Roberts), decides to host a one-night only midnight movie marathon, complete with William Castle inspired shock gimmicks(joy buzzers under seats, Aroma-Rama...). And to this I say; if it was this easy to find a grand old theatre and renovate it and get clearance to play these films, I would have done it years ago. Still, suspension of disbelief is required in just about every horror film, so I'll let it slide. Unfortunately for this little group of would-be filmmakers, Maggie's dreams are going to start haunting her in real life. It turns out the cult leader who is inspiring her nightmares killed his wife and daughter at a showing for his final film, burning the theatre down and killing everyone inside. When eerie things start happening around her, Maggie begins running around the theatre, convinced that Lanyard Gates is still alive and trying to kill her.
For the most part, the deaths in this movie go unnoticed by the majority of the characters until the end of the film, so it's actually not that obnoxious when nobody believes her and goes along like it's business as usual. The deaths are nothing mind blowing, but a couple are a step above the normal slasher film in their inventiveness, and there's some really good makeup effects in some of the scenes involving the killer, whose face has been horribly burned and has been literally stapled in place. The real draw of this film, however, are the horror movies being shown, which are all pretty accurate-and funny- recreations of certain horror archetypes. There's The Stench(complete with aroma-rama, which strikes me as possibly bad for your health), a Japanese film about, well, really bad smells. Mosquito! is your typical bug radiated to massive proportions movie. The standout is The Amazing Electrified Man, about a convict, who, with the help of a mad scientist, survives the electric chair to go on a killing spree. You see only glimpses of these films, but they are a welcome addition. All in all these elements make the film feel like the type of project that Joe Dante might attach himself to, although with not half as much fun and good humor.
The rest of the film doesn't acquit itself quite as well. The story is fairly predictable, even if the killer isn't who you would at first suspect(I only figured it out early because of the actor's... unique voice). Aside from the film parodies, there isn't a lot of self awareness in here. The plot and(most of) the murders are very much by the book, and the acting and dialogue are about what you'd expect. The most inventive thing about the film, actually, is it's reggae heavy soundtrack, which confused me until I saw that the entire film was made in Jamaica. This also probably explains the sudden, all too brief appearance of Ray Walston as the proprietor of a film-memorabilia business. He's actually too good for this film, but a paid vacation in Jamaica for one day's work? It's understandable.
In the end I can't, in good faith, call this a good movie. But it was fun, and I did get a certain enjoyment out of it on each viewing. If you haven't seen it, I can think of much worse ways to spend a Friday evening.