Although now virtually extinct, the horror-movie host once was a staple of local TV up and down the UHF and VHF dials. Paying tribute to this nearly lost art — while mocking it — is Late Night Double Feature, a Canadian indie that shows us an episode of channel 13’s Dr. Nasty’s Cavalcade of Horror as it also takes us behind the scenes. As hosts, Dr. Nasty (Brian Scott Carleton, Bigfoot and the Burtons) and sexy sidekick Nurse Nasty (Jamie Elizabeth Sampson, Dead Rush) introduce two movies (actually short films, which we see in full): Dinner for Monsters and Slit.
Directed by Zombieworld contributor Zach Ramelan, Dinner follows a chef (Nick Smyth, 11 Blocks) to a private meal for six he’s been hired to prepare, only to discover his hosts’ choice of meat is a human corpse. Just when you think that the cannibalism “reveal” is the whole joke — and not a particularly novel one — Dinner leapfrogs genres in a burst of gonzo energy.
The inferior Slit, from Terror Telly helmer Torin Langen, also is an on-the-job tale, as Brad (Colin Price, Bed of the Dead makes a house call to a crazed client (Caleigh Le Grand, Save Yourself). See, Brad is a professional cutter … and a freelance asshole.
Even bumpered by a mortgage commercial (deftly parodying the awfulness of locally produced ads, which attempt creativity without having any) and two fake trailers (for the just-as-it-sounds Night Clown and the backwoods creature feature Encephalopithecus), Late Night still has a full third to go. Director Navin Ramaswaran (Pete Winning and the Pirates: The Motion Picture) fills this by expounding on the previous bits and hints of off-camera chaos among members of the cast and crew. In short, Dr. Nasty comes by his stage name naturally, being a narcotized misogynist who takes advantage of cute interns, and his co-star is damn sick of it. In fact, after being physically tortured for real by the doc during one show segment, she reaches her breaking point and then flies right past it.
Unfortunately, Double Feature’s tonal shift is jarring, going from light and funny to grim and cheerless, and the film as a whole suffers for it. Adding more phony ads and coming attractions would aid tremendously in restoring the balance, especially since the flick does not present a whole-hog facade along the lines of the WNUF Halloween Special. The best course, however, would have been to pick a mood and stick with it, because the movies within the movie feel more like Ramaswaran and friends sandwiched in the shorts they could get, rather than build the shorts to suit the concept, which itself is killer and could withstand another go-round. As is, Sampson earns MVP status with her strong performance. —Rod Lott