SOV Flashbacks Classics – A Night Of Total Terror

Welcome back to Rotten Ink. For this update, we will be taking a look at another Shot On Video Film of James Rolfe and his Cinemassacre Productions, and when looking at the DVDs I have of some of his movies I decided to choose his 1996 Silent Film “A Night Of Total Terror” as it’s one that seems to be a one he truly loved making and is a major influence of his creative life that followed. The film was made because of a mix of boredom and creativity and was inspired by “Night Of The Living Dead” and the silent film masterpiece “Nosferatu”! So what awaits you readers on this Night Of Total Terror? Well read on and find out as this SOV Flashback update is going to be a blast, and I hope will inspire some of you to pick up a camera and film your own backyard films.

James Rolfe was hooked on making movies at a very young age and armed with his family’s VHS camera he would write and direct his own fright flicks and would try his best to get his friends to act in them and allow his visions to come alive. In May 1996 James at the age of 15 was itching to make another movie and after two of the SNIX flicks and some shorts were in his past, he knew that getting his friends to be in another was not in the cards so he came up with a Silent Horror Film that he himself could play all the roles! You see James was a big fan of classic Horror with the Universal Monsters being some of his all time favorites and during this boring summer he knew he had to make this film and nothing was going to stand in his way and his dream to make this creepy classic style Silent Horror Film. And it was at that time while bored in his room hearing the lawnmowers of his neighbors going outside that he made the decision that this was the summer he was going to make another film and he was going to give it his all as he was going to be a one man cast and crew! And on that day the shot on video film “A Night Of Total Terror” was born and James’s creative life would forever be changed.

James spent a whole day filming and coming up with the film’s plot on the spot and putting the ideas that would come to his mind onto tape, and thanks to all the Halloween masks and props he had from the haunted house he held every year in the family basement he had all the tools he needed to create his monsters! James played all the parts in the film and would have to set his shots up change into another character then hit record and the camera had a three second delay and he would have to run and be in the spot in order to get his shot. When needed during this day of filming he would ask his younger sister to put on the outfit of one of the ghouls in order to get a certain shot, and once she filled in he would take the role back over. He of course shot the film during the day and knew that by turning the film black and white he could play it off that it was late night. And after a long day of filming and editing James had a very interesting short horror film that he could be proud of…but this first day was not the end of this film!

The second day of filming James ended up showing the first part of the film to some of the neighborhood kids and they loved it and wanted to help make the second part of the film, and this gave James the cast and crew he needed and was able to make the film a little easier for him to pull of shots and his ideas could get a little bigger! Plus he could add more monsters to his story, and that is always a good thing in the world of SOV Horror. And things started to move faster on set as he was able to shoot scenes faster and was able feel that rush of making a film at that age and being creative with his friends. He wanted to make a film that built a spooky atmosphere and for that level of filmmaking he pulled it off! James really was a one man production team as for the most part he not only was the story creator, actor, director, special effects guy he also was the film’s editor that he did all in camera…think about that he edited the film in camera and had to rewind the tape in order to take out bad and messed up takes. He also in order to get the silent and black and white look he wanted he had to play the tape on his VCR and turn the sound and color down on the TV and then use the camcorder to tape the TV Screen! And when this film was done James was proud of it, and this is the film that gave him the encouragement to prose a career in filmmaking.

A Night Of Total Terror is for James what “Werewolf Of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before” was for me that moment of picking up a camera and filing with your friends watching your story and characters come to live, the feeling of knowing you want to make films your life…it’s a feeling that is hard to describe but really does give you that bug to want to film more and get better at all aspects of creating a movie. James was so inspired by this film that he would go on to do a “Making Of Film” did a sequel he called “ An Evening Of Real Supernatural Horror”, at one point was working on a remake and even did a mini version for collage called “A New Night Of Total Terror” and even other films he made have taken elements from this film. So while SNIX and a few other films came before it truly his first film that brought him to the SOV dance was A Total Night Of Terror. The film was mostly seen only by his friends and family and would run around 30 minutes, and in 2006 he recut the film and released a shorten version on the internet…it’s a shame as I for one would have liked to see the original version of the film as to me that also shows the heart of the production as well as the skill of the director. But I must also say at least we get to see the film in some sort of way and for that thanks James for sharing your early creative film works with the world.

So I want to say that for this film I will write about its plot, my thoughts on the film and will in the end give it a Report Card Grade on the classic A-F scale. Now keep in mind it would not be fair to grade SOV films like you would a big budget Hollywood Movie or even a bigger budget Indie Feature, that’s why much like I do for “Fan Films” I will be grading them on its own scale on a scale of true to life backyard cinema the true shot on video warriors of the camcorder days. So grab a flashlight and lets take a spooky journey into a Night Of Total Terror!

A Night Of Total Terror
Starring – James Rolfe & Gina Rolfe       Directed by James Rolfe
1996     Not Rated     10min     Cinemassacre       DVD-R     Full Frame

Movie: A thief breaks into a tomb in order to steal a magic lamp, but unknown to him this has caused ghouls and creatures to track him down as they want back what is theirs! The enter his home and try to scare him with eye balls and hands that they leave around even a rat attacks him and bites his neck causing the thief pain…his defense is to throw it all out the window! But when a hockey mask wearing Creep with a top hat and cane enters his home all hope is lost as the Creep attacks him with his cane causing the thief to fight back and bash the Creep with his fists as well as taking the cane and beating him with it, but before he can truly escape or get help a ghoul as well enters the house and the Creep comes back for more causing him to have to flee his house and run into the near by woods at night and finding shelter with a young man who has a tent up as he is camping. The thief will not give up the lamp and has it with him as he sits in the tent and tells the man that he has it and that’s what they want! Meanwhile outside the monsters are gathering as besides the Creep and Ghoul such monsters as a Dinosaur Man, Vampire, black hooded man, the rat and Werewolf have joined in the stalking! The youngster in the tent takes out a gun opens fire on the ghouls and then the thief as well takes the gun and shoots the ghouls and they hurry back into the tent. Once inside the thief asks the kid if he believes in the curse of the lamp, and before he can fully answer the tent is attacked by the ghouls! When one finally gets in they remove their mask as does all the ghouls outside as they only dressed this way to scare them and take the lamp as they are thieves as well! But the joke is on them as the lamp curse is real and turns the original thief and the tent kid into monsters who kill them in the end.

Thoughts: A Night Of Total Terror is a fun backyard shot horror film that you can tell was very much thought up on the spot and props pulled out of the Halloween boxes from the basement, but because of this is why I think it has a charm of being a early work of a director that went onto bigger and better films and shorts. The film for the most part is a silent horror film all though very little title cards are used to explain the plot, but to be honest it’s very easy to follow. You can tell that James had his heart into the film even with the zero budget and at the start lack of help and you can also see his influences from classic black and white horror films throughout. He also had a nice twist ending that was very popular in classic horror that has not everything you see being what it seems. Plus in the end when the thief who is played by James Rolfe turns into a monster cause of the lamp he transforms into a gorilla creature and this makes me wonder if he does so cause of his love for the film King Kong or because Gorilla’s were super popular in classic horror to be the monster on film? The films effects are super backyard and charming with clearly store bought plastic limbs and eyes being used to pull off the “gore”. Also I am not sure but I think that the magical lamp is a Disney Aladdin toy and that is awesome as kids and teens in their backyard epics use what they have and that’s lots of toys, I mean in Werewolf Of Ohio I used a old Lone Ranger gun as the leads weapon! While A Night Of Total Terror is not super scary nor is it the best film James has made, I will say that holds lots of magic as you can tell it was made with the love of horror cinema and filmmaking. Check it out if you are a fan of silent horror and zero budget backyard films.

Grade: B+

After watching this chopped down version of this film I for one once more must stress that I would have liked to have seen the full 30 minute version and hope that one day James will stop chopping these down and allow us to also see the true original versions, no need to George Lucas these films as those who love SOV films enjoy them no matter how flawed they are. In fact I am hoping that someday a company like SOV Horror get the rights from James and put this film out in a collectors edition DVD as the world needs it! I am having such a great time doing these updates based on Shot On Video Horror Films and I hope you are enjoying reading them, and in 2022 I will be doing a few more so that is something for you to look forward to as one of them will be Werewolf Of Ohio the first film I ever made! But for my next update we are leaving the SOV films behind and will be once more looking at a Horror Host and a very awesome one at that as its time we take a look at Dayton, Ohio’s own Baron Von Porkchop! So until next time make sure to read an indie comic or three, watch a SOV film or two, and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a Terrifying Tale Of The Macabre!

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