Monday, October 7, 2019

Movie Review: "Graveyard Shift" (1990)

Director: Ralph S. Singleton
Year: 1990
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

A drifter takes a job at a textile factory that has hostile working conditions, an abusive boss, and a rat infestation. As if that wasn't bad enough, there is also a man-eating monster living in the basement.
Stephen Macht hangs off the edge of a building in a movie still for the horror film Stephen King's Graveyard Shift (1990)
"There's already been one accident. This place must be cleared before another worker steps foot in this death trap." (Image Source)
We've noticed a running theme in many of Stephen King's book-to-movie adaptations. No matter what supernatural threat there may be, there is always a human character who is just as bad if not worse than the monster in the story. "Graveyard Shift" is no different. This film is directed by Ralph S. Singleton. It is not only his feature film debut, but it is also the only film he would ever direct. The screenplay is written by John Esposito and is adapted from the short story of the same name by the previously mentioned Stephen King. The story takes place at a run-down textile mill in a small New England town where workers are forced to do their job in 100+ degree heat while surrounded by an infestation of rats. The factory is not up to code, but the foreman, Warwick (Stephen Macht), has bribed inspectors to keep it open after an incident where an employee died "by accident." When a drifter named John Hall (David Andrews) comes through town, he takes the newly-open position because he is desperate for work and is willing to work for low pay in abhorrent conditions. What nobody knows is these mysterious accidents are not just because of poor working conditions or an asshole foreman trying to skirt safety regulations. These accidents keep happening because of a giant man-eating monster living in the basement, feeding on whatever gets too close. 
A sweaty, brutish Warwick (Stephen Macht) forcefully grabs Jane's (Kelly Wolf) chin in a movie scene for the horror film Stephen King's Graveyard Shift
"Ain't you a kick in the nuts?" (Image Source)
When it comes to Stephen King adaptations from the '80s and '90s, heck, even well into the 2000s, we expect them to have a heaping side of cheese. This isn't a critique on King's work itself, just how his work has been handled over the years. His stories are regularly produced into low-budget shlock horror. "Stephen King's Graveyard Shift" fits this description to the tee. Most of the characters are poorly developed and don't feel even slightly authentic. They are basic archetypes more than they are actual people with nuance or layers. Warwick is the cliche jerk of a boss who is on a constant power trip. He uses his position of authority to manipulate his female employees into sexual favors in exchange for better working conditions. He is violent, and he doesn't care about the safety or well-being of his workers. Stephen Macht's performance perfectly captures this cartoonish villainy. Macht chews up every piece of the scenery around him in an over-the-top fashion complete with a thick New England accent. The hero of the story is on the opposite side of the spectrum. The character of John Hall is supposed to be the stoic, quiet, cool type that doesn't let anything bother him. David Andrews's performance is so understated that it winds up being as bland and as dry as unbuttered white toast. He struggles to bring any emotion to his performance, and there's only one scene where he shows anything other than indifference. Despite all of this, there is a certain level of fun to be had in "Graveyard Shift." It isn't what we would call a "technically" "good" film from an educational standpoint, but thanks to some outrageous gore, some interesting creature work, and some intentional (and unintentional) moments of humor, we still found ourselves entertained by it. 
Graveyard Shift 1990 movie still where David Andrews encounters a gigantic mutant creature at his workplace
"I'm sorry, I thought you were a rat." (Image Source)
If you are the type of person who can enjoy a basic b-horror movie for what it is, we think you can do a lot worse than "Graveyard Shift."

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.9/10
RT Rating: 13%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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