"College is for rich kids and people with brains. You wouldn't fit in!"
Butcher Baker, Nightmare Maker AKA Night Warning is a horror/thriller from 1982 directed by William Asher (probably best known for his extensive work on TV's Bewitched). The film was inducted into the now infamous Video Nasties list shortly after its release. This is one of the more overlooked titles on the list but it easily manages to hold its own up there with the best of them. Although the film only contains a couple scenes of violence it does have an underlying theme that definitely makes it quite a bit more grim than most of the others that occupy the list.
The film kicks off with poor Billy's parents dying in a pretty intense car accident. We pick up years later and Billy is living with his Aunt Cheryl who seems to have quite the thing for him. Billy's life is going great, he's got a chance at a full ride scholarship for his basketball skills and is finally getting with the girl of his dreams. Aunt Cheryl refuses to let him leave for college. Especially if it's the same college his new slut girlfriend will be attending. She needs a man around the house and Billy is the perfect fit.
Things all go downhill from here when Cheryl tries to get with a local repairman at their house. When the man refuses she gets furious and stabs the life out of him with a kitchen knife. Billy's Aunt immediately goes the "attempted rape" route as soon as she realizes Billy witnessed the final moments of the murder. The cops clearly aren't buying the story as they raddle off lines like, "Wasn't his day. Poor guy didn't even get his pecker out". From here on Cheryl's downward spiral starts at full force. Nothing will come between her and Billy.
The extremely strong incestuous overtones in this film really makes it stand out. There's something particularly eerie about Billy's Aunt waking him up by sensually scratching him and purring like a cat. This flick is loaded with creepy moments with that tone. Susan Tyrrell gives an amazingly convincing performance as the sex deprived Aunt who sees her nephew as the solution. Somehow the twist revealed at the latter half of the film somehow manages to make the incest theme even more skin crawling than before.
Overall Butcher Baker, Nightmare Maker is a damn good horror flick of the early 80's. If you go into it expecting a proper Video Nasties gore-fest you'll be letdown, but as a film it works on every level. I'm sure most of the seasoned Video Nasties watchers have seen more disappointing flicks on that front from the list (I'm looking at you The Witch Who Came From the Sea!). Great acting and pacing keep this one ahead of the pack luckily. I'd recommend this one for people looking to check out a very solid horror/thriller. Get it.