Welcome to 1987, where vampires have the outward appearance of soft-core pornographic villains, horror movies are accompanied by cheesetastical original sound scores, and plot lines are flimsier than the Styrofoam tombstones in "Plan 9 From Outer Space." This is the era that gave us the the critically abandoned, yet very enjoyable Graveyard Shift (aka Central Park Driver); companion film of a largely untapped host of horror movies that have only recently made the jump from VHS to DVD (or are still waiting). This title is not to be confused with the Stephen King work of the same name and time period, but I was startled to find how frequently this has occurred on the interwebs. Back on track.
I bought this VHS on one of the most historic horror binges I've ever made, being when my local West Coast Video (RIP) went out of business, soon to be followed by every remaining video store in America. This was the same brilliant run that scored me The Crazies (original obviously, I said score, not uberfail), Creepazoids, The Body Snatcher, and Creepshow 2, among others.This was years prior to it's barely capable DVD release in cheap DVD bin hell. Anyway, I had never heard of or cared to rent this title before the store went under, but I am exceedingly glad to have discovered Graveyard Shift in West Coast's final act.

In essence, this film deals with a poorly advised love affair between Stephen, a modern-day taxi-driving vampire, and Michelle, a newly discovered to be terminally ill music video director in the Big Apple. Let me assure you, things are as dysfunctional as they might sound at first thought, but even more bizarre when Michelle's estranged husband gets involved in the love triangle. The casual ridiculousness of the vampire underworld depicted in New York City is definitely worth the ride; with all of it's accompanying gratuitous violence and nudity. Stripper vampires slashing dude's throats in sleazy alleys and hot vampire cops moonlighting central park? Shit, you had me at stripper. But in all seriousness, let's face it, fans of horror near and far are no stranger to the fact that even not so subtly delivered sex, violence, and similar exploitations can carry a cheesier horror movies to the upper echelon of it's group. Hell, Sam Raimi made a career out of it!

This film doesn't pretend to be something that it's  not, and this is precisely what allows it to succeed as a horror film, albeit a cheesy one. Graveyard Shift succeeds purely on style, guts (literally and figuratively), atmosphere, and rhinestones.

Although the lead roles are decent in their portrayals, the cast is barely capable where it needs to be, and absurdly below capable beneath that. Fortunately, cheesy late-80's vampire films don't require ensemble casts; in fact they encourage the opposite, with positive results! (See Lost Boys, Fright Night).

For example, not only does the film have copious amounts of cheesetastic soundtrack, but it also delivers an appropriate amount of atmosphere and action to make up for any shortcomings in the film's engineering. Graveyard Shift's sets and lighting are creative and well done, which lends to the fantastical elements of the story. This is reminiscent of Suspiria, albeit less magnificent.

Stephen's attempts to not only keep his belly full and bills paid, but  most importantly, keep his heart from being broken, staked, or both prove ultimately satisfying.This film is definitely worth a watch to the moderate to experienced level horror nerd; which I suspect you may be if you've made it here. 

Although this should not be confused with an accomplishment (See CHUD II, Ghoulies 2, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, etc), Graveyard Shift was awarded a sequel, which clearly puts it above those that were so laughable as to bar any further sequels, prequels, or the like (ex: Hellgate). I don't know why I feel the need to bolster this film's credentials, it's a quasi-pornographic vampire horror love story filmed with performance art lighting; it speaks for itself.

WTF =15

W - 3 (shallow as a pot hole, but doesn't pretend to be otherwise)
T -5 (delivered the bacon, given it's budget)
F - 7 (a good mix of shock, awe, atmosphere, 80s cheese, and lust)

pseudo-pornographic vampire bite

TRAILER - 1987



I would recommend this movie for every pregnant woman.  Because if you can't handle the horror of this film, you definitely can't handle 22 years of indentured servitude.  

My guess is that most women don't have the words to capture the fear of childbirth and raising a baby.  I certainly don't.  But this movie does a good deal in taking those nightmares and magnifying them, from almost every possible angle.  Women are pressured to have children by families, peers, and themselves, but for most parents, children actually create more stress, health issues, regrets, and misery than it is acceptable to socially admit.  It's great to see a movie that unabashedly plays with those fears.

WTF: 19
W =7
T = 6
F= 6

Your main character is Madeline, the typical ticking biological clock so obsessed with the 'mother experience' that she's had three miscarriages, been on fertility drugs, and somehow the light bulb doesn't go off that if you are really intent on making the world a better place with your parenting skills there are bazoodles of homeless parentless kids out there in need that would be grateful to have the love of a forever home and family.  But we live in a self-centered society, and it stands to reason that for thousands of years we've been biologically procreating for entirely selfish reasons.  Back when we needed labor on our farms, kids made for the cheapest you could find and lack of birth control made it impossible to avoid sans celibacy.  Even nowadays parents like Madeline will be easily understood by most viewers (aka not me).  They will understand her 'plight'.  I'm not sure why everyone including idiots, abusers, and talk show hosts believe it is somehow their 'god given right' to bring their squalling crotchfruit into existence like we don't have enough creatures ruining this planet, but for viewers like me, there's a certain satisfaction in watching this thing play out for all parties.  To a degree the film brings parallels to The Walking Dead, taking a horrible premise and making it believable, almost banal is Madeline's resolve to keep her child at all costs.    

Like anything in life, having a child comes with one hefty-ass price tag.  Check out the New Yorker's article on unhappy parenting (I think it went out in 2010) and we  encounter a slew of anonymous parents who confess (obviously is highly inappropriate to publicly wish your kid was never born) that things were better before kids were ever in the picture.  But I refer to the baseness of life, the daycare costs, vomit, screaming, shit, more screaming, crashing your car, getting herpes at 14 from half the football team, then maxing out your credit card at a head shop.  That MUNDANE kind of stuff that kids do.  We don't get that far into the picture with Grace, and perhaps that is the point of view of the piece: that the beginnings of life are insane enough to speak for themselves.

Madeline is a whole different bag of monkeys.  To begin with her family or 'support network' is strange and convoluted, her mother-in-law namely, and the doctors she seeks vs. the doctors she avoids.  Her history with the vegan dharma namaste midwife unfolds, but the actress is fabulously serious.  Her husband, interestingly, but I decided well-played, is kind of a non-entity.  Often when you have a hankering woman ready to pop one out, you have a reticent man wondering wtf he is getting himself into.  In the second scene, (weird sex scene), she clearly is looking for a fertility hose rather than an orgasm.  Then comes the product of the whole exercise: when the baby is pronounced dead, she decides to carry it to term and go through the grueling and gruesome experience of a stillbirth.  Pretty much every potential mother's nightmare.  But Grace lives. She is soon to discover that motherhood, in her case, is far from what she or anyone could ever envision, that it means sacrifice on a whole new level. Because as many of us say, unknowing, and sated with wine at family dinners: "Blood is blood."

I like this movie because it is brave, because it manages to challenge the stereotypes of both liberal and conservative approaches to family planning while taking the viewer on a gory ride through an 'unexpecting' mother's life.  While I must mention there are a few side characters whose acting is so poor and clearly waiting for a cue for a poorly meted out response they almost ruin the film (the midwife's assistant...needs to go back to the acting clinic stat...and a few others), the plot choices and the unraveling of this story make up for its shortcomings.  

So kiddies and potential parents, consider this your first "informational" video in Nurse Betty Bloodletter's Parenting 101 ("What to Expect When You're Expecting: The Horror!") Course.  

Because children are our future...or not.