John Russo has long stood in the shadow of ex-partner George Romero, and "Midnight" is a good example of why. This tale of a devout Catholic girl (Melanie Verlin, possessing the tomboyish looks of a young Jodie Foster) fleeing her groping, drunken police-officer stepfather (Lawrence Tierney--"Reservoir Dogs") only to run afoul of a wacky family of Satan worshippers living in a backwoods shack (that auspiciously sits in the heart of suburbia) is equal parts "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Night of the Living Dead," but with far less imagination. While Russo gets decent mileage out of his cast of unknowns and occasionally employs a nifty camera angle (a close-up of kicking feet as a man is stabbed to death, for instance), it cannot save a plodding story that is frequently interrupted by scenes of talky exposition. I realize that low-budget films are frequently forced to tell instead of show, but Romero has proved time and again that it's a matter of directorial skill in keeping the audience hooked. Even the makeup FX (credited to Tom Savini) play on a distinctly lower tier. Yet "Midnight" isn't altogether bad...I have a feeling it would be great fodder for a drunken get-together, and Russo's use of rural Pennsylvania locales lends a bit of rough-hewn realism to the otherwise absurd tale. And hey, it's a chance to see John Amplas ("Martin"; "Day of the Dead") play one of the psychotic brothers!
(Note: Lionsgate has released "Midnight" to DVD with the kind of misleading sleeve art usually reserved for a Ulli Lommel flick; the disc is full-screen and contains no extras, which might have gone a ways in redeeming the film.)