Dark and Stormy Night Reviews
The characters are hilariously stereotyped and the gags come fast and furious.
Well worth a rental, though this won't be for all tastes unless you are familiar with the material being parodied.
It's clever witty and echoes the 1940's but with an ironic contemporary sensibility. What Larry Blamire has accomplished with such a low budget film is amazing. highly recommended.
A wacky, affectionate blend of THE CAT AND THE CANARY's haunted horror, the mystery laughs of MURDER BY DEATH and the rapid-fire patter of HIS GIRL FRIDAY, writer/director Blamire demonstrates a fine eye and ear for such classic genres while delivering outright parody of their formulaic content. The more you have watched such classic genre films, the more in-jokes you'll laugh at in DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, but these specific parodies only enhance this entertaining comedy.
Driven by a talent-rich cast led Daniel Roebuck, Jennifer Blaire, Dan Conroy, Brian Howe and Fay Masterson, the characters are the richest and most satisfying in the Blamire filmography. This observation merits an asterisk in that Blamire and crew have made their indie careers satirizing the flat, cardboard characters of notorious B- and Z-grade low-budget groaners. As evidenced in his LOST SKELETON parodies, his characters obey the stiff acting and stilted dialogue delivery of their predecessors, a la bad-film meister Ed Wood. Only Team Blamire's laugh-earning results are entirely intentional, and this quirky gaggle of mystery hounds are their best yet.
Roebuck and Blaire play the battling reporters and their union of talent, tone and comedic timing impel DARK AND STORMY NIGHT ever forward with true '40s-style sizzle. Rival news hounds Eight O'clock Farraday (Roebuck) and Billy Tuesday (Blaire) fondly salute the his-and-hers banter of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in HIS GIRL FRIDAY without the edgy cynicism. Think of their teaming as the male/female casting of Abbott and Costello, zinging their one-upping repartee but with a romantic twist on top. Blaire and Roebuck's pairing yields big laughs and then some.
Tagging along with Farraday and Tuesday is their dim-witted cab driver Happy Codburn (Conroy), cracking wise and cowering at mansion frights like a Bowery Boy whose unending mission is to obtain the thirty-five cents owed on his fare to Cavinder Manor. Of course that was before a spirit medium (Alison Martin), money-hungry schemer (Kevin Quinn) and complete stranger (Blamire) barge in out of the rain to witness the will reading. It wouldn't be an old dark house mystery without a sniveling nephew of the dead millionaire (Howe), his unfaithful and self-absorbed wife (Christine Romeo), their scared-silly maid (Trish Geiger) and taciturn butler (Bruce French). Throw in a demented hunting guide (Jim Beaver), dotty brother-in-law (James Karen), and a British twit (Andrew Parks), and you've got the classic whodunit recipe for murder when the clock strikes thirteen. Blamire and cast have delicious fun playing these mystery archetypes to perfection while poking fun at genre cliches with nimble dexterity. Hollywood veterans Tom Reese, H.M. Wynant and Betty Garrett keep pace in supporting roles with comedy legend Marvin Kaplan making a delightful appearance as a disembodied spirit warning of doom at the seance. Watch for a hilarious, ad-lib laden cameo by Susan McConnell, a mysterious figure hurling absurd insults in her thick Scottish brogue.
Shot on HD video, the cinematography of Anthony Rickert-Epstein, production design by Anthony Tremblay and original score by Christopher Caliendo are all spot-on in duplicating the black-and-white style of the spooky classics. Blamire's script plays with classic mystery and old house plot conventions while twisting them for his own parodic intent. His own trademark touches carry over from previous films, including his penchant for devising ridiculous character names ? meet Burling Famish, Jr., Sabasha Fanmoore, Teak Armbruster and Seaton Ethelquake for starters ? and riddling the dialogue with inane exposition. The latter trait was always a bit overdone in Blamire's LOST SKELETON parodies but is tempered quite well here with the 1940s verbal jousting style.
A bounty of bonus features include a cast and crew audio commentary track (quite entertaining itself), a making-of featurette, and a laugh-filled gag reel. Viewers also get the option to watch the film in color as originally photographed, and while this is a handy feature for those unfortunates who don't like black-and-white films, this version loses much of its gothic mystery and parody strength when seen in color.
If you're searching the shadows for a witty, affectionate and silly send-up of classic mystery-horror-comedies you grew up watching, you'll enjoy getting caught up in this DARK AND STORMY NIGHT. Retro-style laughs and harmless murder intrigue get a lift from winning performances with glib, fast-talking '40s delivery and a careful eye for dark house details. Step in from the storm and you may just die laughing!