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Graveyard Shift (1990, David Andrews, Kelly Wolf)

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Wes Craven’s People Under The Stairs proved horror could have a political relevance, and Stephen King agreed. The subtext of his story – adapted for the big screen – is the downside of capitalism.

Hollywood’s telling of the story side-steps this theme to concentrate on the Bachman Mills, a rat-infested factory threatened with closure. Drifter John Hall (David Andrews) starts work at the mills on the night shift, and finds out about the recent unexplained death of a worker – an event which is swiftly repeated after a pest controller (Brad Dourif) warns Hall of evil forces at work.

Alongside Nardello (Ilona Margolis), a whistleblower and ex-girlfriend of the boss, Hall joins the clean-up team. Nardello steals secret memos recommending the mill’s closure but is killed before she can publicise them. One by one the workers are picked off by the mysterious beast, with the boss (Stephen Macht) intent on suppressing details and Hall determined to track down the killer and avenge the deaths.

Singleton – whose career includes a bit-part in Taxi Driver – worked on such classic thrillers as Three Days Of The Condor and has developed a strength in suspense which helps overcome the formulaic ‘behind you’ conventions of the genre. The script punctuates the murders with humour, with the best line going to the charismatic Brad Dourif (‘I ain’t one of those baby-burning flashbackers you see Bruce Dern playing’).

production details
cast
David Andrews as John Hall
Kelly Wolf as Jane Wisconsky
Stephen Macht as Warwick
Robert Alan Beuth as Ippeston
Andrew Divoff as Danson
Vic Polizos as Brogan
Brad Dourif as Tucker Cleveland, the Exterminator
Ilona Margolis as Nordello
Jimmy Woodard as Charlie Carmichael
Jonathan Emerson as Jason Reed
Minor Rootes as Stevenson
Kelly L. Goodman as Warwick’s Secretary
Susan Lowden as Daisy May

crew
Director: Ralph S. Singelton
Writer: John Esposito (from the short story by Stephen King)

USA | 89 minutes | 1990

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