Sunday, February 14, 2021
Night of Evil (1962)
Dixie Ann Dikes (Lisa Gaye) is a sixteen-year-old girl living with foster parents in a small town. She is raped by a couple of local boys. Her foster parents blame her and she is dumped in the Holland Home for Girls. Which isn’t too bad. When she’s eighteen and leaves the home she moves in with Linda Dietrich (Lynette Bernay) who was brought up in the Holland Home as well and likes to help the girls when they have to make their way into the world. He tries to offer Dixie Ann motherly advice, which Dixie Ann sometimes listens to.
Everything goes great for Dixie Ann. Linda’s boss, an advertising exec, suggests that Dixie Ann should enter a beauty pageant. She might even become Miss America but at the very least it could be the start of a modelling career.
Dixie Ann has a boyfriend, Kent, a really nice boy who stood by her when she was raped. But when he discovers she’s entered a beauty contest he decides the townspeople must have been right about her after all. Any girl who would enter a beauty contest must be no better than a whore.
Then Dixie Ann meets charming lounge lizard Chuck Logan (William Campbell) and he sweeps her off her feet.
Chuck gets himself involved in a kidnapping case. Kidnapping a cop is really dumb even if the cop does have a rich wife who might pay a big ransom. It’s a bad idea and with Chuck’s psychotic tendencies coming to the fore it could turn out to be a spectacularly bad idea. And it’s not just that Chuck is a hoodlum and a psycho. He’s as dumb as a rock as well.
It looks like Dixie Ann’s life is going to end in squalor and degradation but then comes the ending. Which presented writer Louis Perino with a challenge. This was 1962. Bad girls had to be seen to be punished. Usually in a movie like this the punishment was likely to be pretty drastic. But is Dixie Ann a bad girl or a victim? Is there a viable way in which justice can be done while saving her at the same time? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out if he came up with a solution or not.
There’s a definite film noir element, with Dixie Ann as the noir protagonist brought to degradation partly by bad luck and partly by understandable errors of judgment due to youth and naïvete. Chuck Logan is the femme fatale equivalent, the good-looking charmer who leads her on to disaster.
Of course it’s an exploitation movie as well, which makes for an interesting combination of sensationalism and sensitivity.
The Alpha Video DVD is OK by Alpha Video standards. Image quality is mostly quite good. Sound quality is mostly OK.
I don’t want to sell this movie too highly. It’s a low-budget flick and it’s melodramatic and contrived at times. It is however a much better movie than it has any right to be.
Night of Evil is no masterpiece but it combines noir and exploitation extremely well and it works surprisingly well. Recommended.