Let me quickly start things off by giving all you fine folks out there some free advice: Never turn your back on Susan Tyrrell when she's holding a meat cleaver. I don't care if it seems like she's in a good mood, the odds that she will try to hit you with said meat cleaver the moment you turn your back are pretty high. In fact, forget about not turning your back, I would avoid being in the presence of Susan Tyrrell all-together when she's holding a meat cleaver. On the other hand, if I was in Susan Tyrrell's kitchen (let's say I was over there to fix her television) and she began hiking up her skirt in an erotic manner, I would be tickled pink by the sudden upshot in Susan Tyrrell-based titillation. Now, both the scenarios I just put forth do occur in the decidedly off-kilter Night Warning, but it was the so-called "sudden upshot in Susan Tyrrell-based titillation" that sent me over the edge. Envious that Phil Brody (Caskey Swaim), television repairman extraordinaire, was chosen by Susan Tyrrell's Aunt Cheryl to be the man to satisfy her sexual hunger, I sat back and waited for Phil to mount his shapely prize on the kitchen table with bated breath.
Get between those milky thighs, you lucky bastard. Get between them real good. Is what I thought to myself, when I realized that Phil was about to be taken on a wild, pelvic ride.
However, the only thing that's going to be penetrated on this day is Phil's jugular. You heard right, Phil rebuffs Aunt Cheryl's attempt to seduce him. I'll get to jugular penetration in a minute. But let's just say I was flabbergasted by the sight of Phil rejecting the advances of an amorous of Susan Tyrrell; I had trouble fathoming that anyone in their right mind would this.
I mean, does this movie really expect me to believe that a grown man would turn down a free helping of Susan Tyrrell-orchestrated poontang?
Just as I was about to dismiss this movie as unrealistic poppycock, the film throws us a plot twist that does a lot to explain why Phil shunned Aunt Cheryl's lewd overture so assertively.
While a plot twist like this would have been greeted with yawns if it were from a movie made today, back in 1982, the subject was still taboo.
The gayest horror film to come out of the 1980s, Night Warning (a.k.a. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker) doesn't receive this distinction because the film's primary crime solver is a raging bigot with a grudge against "fags." Nor does it receive this distinction because Susan Tyrrell has an inordinate amount of camp appeal. No, the reason this film is so gay is because Jimmy McNichol appears shirtless onscreen a total of seven times. If I have to explain why that's gay, then you clearly don't know gay.
Oh, and, yes, I kept track of how many times Jimmy McNichol appears topless in this movie; it's what I do.
It's a good thing Julia Duffy, the actress who plays Jimmy's heterosexual girlfriend, Julia, was wearing black pantyhose when she talks to a shirtless Jimmy during basketball practice. (Why?) Isn't it obvious? Her pussy would have exploded otherwise. (That doesn't make a lick of sense.) Um, the tightness of her black pantyhose no doubt bore the brunt of the vaginal blast. Duh.
What I think I'm trying to say is this: Whether you're gay, straight, somewhere in-between or Bill Paxton, your genitals won't stand a chance when up against the shirt-free onslaught Jimmy McNichol unleashes in this movie.
You could say this is why Aunt Cheryl (Susan Tyrrell) is so possessive of Jimmy... she wants him all to herself.
After opening with a flashback that shows Billy's parents being killed in a horrific traffic accident back in the late 1960s (his dad's face is smashed in by a log), we jump forward to the early 1980s, where a teenage Billy (Jimmy McNichol) is living in a large house with his Aunt Cheryl. I was going to say that things seem normal enough, but I just remembered that Susan Tyrrell plays Aunt Cheryl. Now, I'm not saying Susan Tyrrell can't play a sane person. But let's get real, shall we? I mean, look at the way Aunt Cheryl wakes up Billy. That's just plain weird.
While Aunt Chery putters around the house in ratty housecoats for most of the day, Billy can usually be found playing basketball at school (he's apparently quite good... despite not being Lithuanian).
Tired of being celibate, Aunt Cheryl gets fixed up and offers herself to the television repairmen. When he rejects her (he pushes her away), Aunt Cheryl does what any cock-starved shut-in would do, she stabs him to death. Just as this is taking place, Billy's comes home. Embarrassed that the television repairmen rejected her, Aunt Cheryl tells Billy that he tried to rape her; a story that Billy believes.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said of Detective Joe Carlson (Bo Svenson) and Sgt. Cook (Britt Leach), who have different theories as to what happened. And, yes, I meant to pluralize the word "theory." You see, Carlson and Cook both have differing opinions as to what transpired in Aunt Cheryl's kitchen. The former thinks Aunt Cheryl is a butch lesbian covering up for her gay son, who killed the gay television repairmen during a lover's quarrel involving Billy's gay basketball coach. While the latter thinks Aunt Cheryl is, to put it mildly, a psycho-hosebeast.
You might be thinking: Wow, Sgt. Cook's assessment of the case is dead-on. However, that doesn't mean it's an open and shut case. The problem is Det. Carlson is so obsessed with the case's gay angle, that all logic is thrown out the window.
I loved how Det. Carlson is set up to be the film's hero, but turns out to be the world's biggest asshole. Of course, I don't know if this was done on purpose or not, but his dogged determination to spin the case into a gay-themed homicide was one of the film's most appealing aspects. The key phrase there being "one of," as there's nothing more appealing than a movie that features a shirtless Jimmy McNichol and a more deranged than usual Susan Tyrrell.