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Graveyard Shift – 6

Director – Ralph S. Singleton

Cast – David Andrews, Kelly Wolf, Stephen Macht, Andrew Divoff, Vic Polizos, Robert Alan Beuth, Ilona Margolis, Jimmy Woodard, Jonathan Emerson, Minor Rootes

Release Year – 1990

Reviewed by John of the Dead

After viewing Thinner for the first time since my childhood I decided to treat myself to another film that had suffered the same fate, Graveyard Shift. I remembered it being an adaptation of a Stephen King short story (just like Thinner) and having to do with a giant creature, so I went in expecting to enjoy the piece and I did just that. Sure the story comes with many faults and cliches often seein in low-budget 90s horror, but the direction is solid and with an awesome antagonist this was a pretty enjoyable flick for me.

Down on his luck and desperately looking for work, John Hall (David Andrews) takes a job at a rundown textile mill with an insane rat infestation. John and a few others are tasked with cleaning out the decrepit basement before a final building inspection is to take place, and while down there they learn of a deadly secret that has been munching on them one by one.

An atmospheric creature film from the mind of Stephen King is hard to pass over for me, and I was not surprised I enjoyed this. From the get-go the writers throw us into the utterly scary world of a decrepit mill under siege by an army of vermin and a hideous creature leading the pack. With employees constantly falling victim to the creature, foreman Warwick hires our protagonist to do their dirty work and eventually stand in the path between the best and the lives of those around him. I was glad o see that there were plenty of creature scenes and kill sequences to adorn the film, including some full-frontal creature action that I did not expect from such a film. The character play was positive and also served as the area where the most cliches were thrown in, but I was forgiving of this piece and it then gave me what I wanted.

Graveyard Shift marks director Ralph S. Singleton’s only directorial effort, and I found that hard to believe after seeing how well he executed this piece. The atmosphere is great and he makes good use out of the creepy and low-lit sets used for the mill and basement scenes, and a chilling musical score added to the creepiness. The acting performances are so-so overall, which is expected and should be forgiven since none of them were poor or atrocious, and some were in fact pretty good. The biggest reason for my enjoyment of Singleton’s direction was his execution of the horror, which was pretty good for an adaptation of a Stephen King story. The creature action was awesome and we were treated to an incredibly scary beast coming at us via live-action FX, and the creature did not only appear in close-ups but was mobile as well. There is not very much gore, but with a ton of rotting corpses and an awesome creature I did not notice the lack of gore until I began writing the review – an obvious indication of good execution selling a film despite a few faults.

Overall, Graveyard Shift is a fun piece that provides plenty of horror cheese in an enjoyable package so long as you can forgive just a little. The creature action was great and definitely “made” the film thanks to Singleton’s positive direction, and the simple story did its job in providing good horror and an engaging experience.

Rating: 6/10

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