The Chronicles of Horror Movie Night: ‘A Night to Dismember’ (1983)

Posted by Damon Swindall - May 3rd 2012 @ 4:55 pm

After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!

DVD Cover

Holy hell, was this a special Horror Movie Night!

While I know the titles, and reputations, of many of Doris Whishman’s films, this was my first foray into her interesting brand of filmmaking. The majority of the woman’s flicks are centered around big-breasted ladies baring all onscreen. This includes the infamous Chesty Morgan. She had a reported 73FF bust – in case you didn’t know.

Now that you’ve had time to pick your jaw up from the floor we’ll get on to the film at hand…

Why would this purveyor of sexploitation goodness make it onto the roster for HMN? Well, she made two horror films in her illustrious career and the first was her answer to the slasher boom of the early 80s. In 1983 Doris set out to fill screens with blood and boobs with A Night to Dismember. She succeeded in this quest, as well as confusing the hell out of everyone who witnessed this brief feature.

Best I can tell from what happens onscreen a young woman, Vicki (Samantha Fox – the porn star, not the musician), is released from an asylum back into the care of her long-cursed family. The powers that be might say she’s ready to rejoin society, but soon the bodies start piling up all around. While Vicki continues to be insane the body count could be the result of her jealous siblings who don’t want to have to deal with their crazy sister. They take things pretty far just to have the house/family all to themselves if you ask me.


Choke, choke

This is the best I can tell, because A Night to Dismember is a very confusing, yet bloody and hilarious, 69 minute flick. That’s right. Just over an hour long and not a second wasted. Before the five minute mark there is already full-frontal nudity and at least three deaths! Wishman knew how to get an audiences’ attention. Once the blood starts flowing it doesn’t stop. There are some rather meaty deaths, many of which are dispatched via axe. Eek! Nothing like a good ol’ axe murderer to make a gorehound smile.

The real crazy thing about this film is the sound. Not only is the soundtrack weird and out of place, but it seems like just snippets of tunes repeated over and over again. There’s a scene full of dramatic music that loops around three times all centered around some hand holding. How crazy!

But the music is nothing.

Everything was done after the fact in ADR! No bit of captured sound at the time of filming so any audio and dialog is dubbed. Not only that, but it’s safe to say that 95% of the film is told through narration. A man who is in a few scenes provides all the “vital information” in a very Unsolved Mysteries sort of way. His tale is quite confusing and at one point he even asks the audience questions about what the hell is unfolding before our very stunned eyes. When this doesn’t feel like a Robert Stack rip-off, it kind of becomes the most awesome filmstrip ever! Just think back to those horrible filmstrips you had to watch in school, and how the bad footage was only enhanced by the over-the-top voice over. If only we would have gotten to watch something like this instead.

Right in the head!

Sadly, Miss Wishman passed away back in 2002. She made plenty of interesting films aside from this one. The Chesty Morgan films (Double Agent 73, Deadly Weapons), a graphic sex change documentary (Let Me Die a Woman), hardcore porn (Satan Was a Lady), and even some sex comedies (Dildo Heaven). She lead an interesting career and even made appearances in a few documentaries and had a couple of guest spots on Late Night with Conan O’Brien! I’ve done some searching online and unfortunately can’t find a video. Sigh. She was also captured on camera saying, after being asked when she’ll retire, “when I die. And even then, as I’ve said, I may make films in hell.” What a great lady. Would’ve been fun to meet her I’m sure.

If you’re interested in checking out this film, there was a great DVD released by Elite back in 2001 and it comes complete with a commentary by Doris and her longtime cinematographer C. Davis Smith! Sadly, it appears to be out-of-print but you can still find copies for relatively cheap on Amazon. I might need to splurge for the commentary alone. A Night to Dismember is a very odd film, but a fun one at times. Not for everyone, but diehard genre and/or Wishman fans will find this a must watch.

Until next week – I want to watch a score only version of this film to see if I can still follow the “story”.

Body Count: 15
First Death: 1:54
First Nudity: 1:31
Best Death: Mommy Stabbed with More Holes than Swiss Cheese

Coming Soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-5/2/12: The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1993)
-5/9/12: Judgement Day (1988) aka The Third Hand
-5/16/12: Of Unknown Origin (1983)
-5/23/12: Deadline (1984)

BONUS! Check out this awesome ~20 minute interview with Doris Wishman about her films. She’s just so damned cute!



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  1. May 4th, 2012 | 3:30 pm | #1

    I need to find out more about the Chicago chapter.

    Precious Monsters

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