Late Night Double Feature is the collaborative lovechild of several independent Canadian filmmakers and horror aficionados, brought to life by producer/director Kelly Michael Stewart and his Toronto production company Three Evil Cats. This low-budget anthology functions as a shorter take on the Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse concept, but with a specific focus on trashy late night television broadcasting and the bizarre films it often featured. The central wraparound narrative that holds the film together focuses on Dr. Nasty’s Cavalcade of Horror, a TV show hosted by the washed-up and alcoholic Dr. Nasty (Brian Scott Carleton) and his sexy assistant Nurse Nasty (Jamie Elizabeth Sampson). The program plays like a public-access version of Tales From the Crypt if it were hosted by your creepy uncle, and both its production on-camera and the drama behind the scenes function together as the primary narrative, setting up the titular double feature through the presentation of two short films. Dr. Nasty’s then returns once again as the central focus for the final act, where it offers some shocking twists and surprises of its own. Toss in a handful of hilarious fake trailers and commercials and you’ve got a certified horror extravaganza, and one which offers quite a bit to chew on for its brief runtime, thankfully delivering more hits than misses in the process.
The first short film is Zach Ramelan‘s Dinner for Monsters about a down-on-his-luck chef (Nick Smyth) who receives a last-minute request by a wealthy couple (Jeff Sinasac and Sandra DaCosta) to cater a dinner party at their remote mansion. Upon arriving, he soon discovers that their tastes are rather…unconventional, and he may be forced to compromise not just his morality but possibly his own sanity if he hopes to leave in one piece. Despite being the weaker of the two shorts due to a somewhat clichéd premise and some inconsistent performances, Monsters still has a good deal going for it, including some truly twisted imagery as well as a fantastic sense of humour that fully surfaces in the second half. The ending won’t come as much of a shocker to anyone, although it does offer a satisfying bit of gore to go along with an inversion of the central theme of “feeding on the lower classes,” and the final twist is a bit ridiculous but I’d call it…digestible…given the nature of the story.
The film that follows is Torin Langen‘s Slit about a man named Brad (Colin Price) with an unusual underground business that involves cutting the flesh of clients to provide them with relief and/or pleasure in exchange for money. Given the dangerous nature of his work, Brad exercises extreme caution with any new client he takes on, but he may have met his match with Brii (Caleigh Le Grand) – a young woman with violent intentions and a severe lack of mental and emotional stability. Slit is a moody and somber piece, punctuated by some grisly visuals that accomplish a great deal using minimalistic techniques. Price is quite strong in the lead role, exhibiting a Dexter-like vibe at times and carrying out his business with cold, calculated intent. Though it lacks the underlying humour that permeates the rest of this anthology, Slit offers a welcomed shift in tone that works particularly well as a point of contrast to the other features on display. And keep an eye out for Addicted’s own Kirk Haviland in a small supporting role!
Following these two presentations, the film reverts back to its wraparound narrative for the remainder of its runtime, bringing the horror into the real world of the Dr. Nasty’s television production itself in a segment that was directed by Navin Ramaswaran. Throughout the film, we come to understand that Samantha (a.k.a Nurse Nasty) is integral in running the Dr. Nasty’s show behind the scenes from a production standpoint, and that she is sleeping with the director Shawn (Mike Donis) in hopes of landing a role in his next film. Samantha’s already tenuous working relationship with the drunk and abusive Dr. Nasty takes a serious turn for the worst when he goes too far during a live segment, but this time Samantha is not going to take it, and it may just be the last mistake he ever makes! In the end, it was this section of the film that offered the most genuine fun out of the whole anthology, delivering a standout performance by Jamie Elizabeth Sampson who steals the show as the revenge-driven Samantha. The ending offers a rather surprising twist as well, complete with an excess of bloodshed to send things off on a high note.
The three short films that comprise the bulk of the feature are all padded with additional trailers and short content as well, which resulted in some of the most humorous and wacky moments of the whole anthology. They include Kelly Michael Stewart’s trailer Night Clown, featuring indie Canadian icon Robert Nolan as a psychotic ghost clown with a face that would give Pennywise nightmares; Jason Tannis‘ hilarious commercial Killer Mortgage Rates!!!, where they literally murder the competition; and the impeccably named Encephalopithecus by John Michael Forbes, which looks as if it were filmed with a total of $5 yet contains what is hands down one of the greatest names ever to repeat over and over in a trailer.
All things considered, Late Night Double Feature is very much the type of film that can be called greater than the sum of its parts, offering a well-balanced variety between its segments which serves to enhance the viewing experience well beyond what it may have been if they had remained individual projects. It is a testament to the passion and love for horror that these filmmakers each possess, and despite it’s inescapably low-budget look and sensibility, this anthology is sure to offer up enough genuine laughs and chills to warrant a viewing.
R A T I N G : 3 . 5 / 5 S T A R S