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


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