This anthology is directed by Torey Haas who did 3 of the segments, Eric Davis, Jay Holloway, Anissa Matlock, and Tony Reames who did a segment each. The writing duty went to Davi Crimmins, Greg Garrison, Haas, Holloway, Matlock, Melissa Oulton, and Reames, each writing or co-writing one segment. These segments here are presented as films being shown within a Halloween spooktacular hosted by the Mistress of Midnight. The wrap-around and the short films are a fun watch with a touch of creep in varying degrees for each. These are written and directed by different people yet feel cohesive and like they belong together, a definitive sign of a well-planned anthology.
The cast, like the short stories, are fun to watch with a few members shining bright in the darkness. Actress Erin Brown leads the way and opens the path for the viewer as Mistress of Midnight, a hostess with the mostess type who owes more than a little to the genre’s beloved Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Brown adds personal touches, taking her character in a similar yet different direction from the queen of the genre. The short films she presents, the segments work well together with some of them having call-backs to others. Their cast is good overall with Anissa Matlock doing fantastic work in her part of Ellie, a pregnant woman who knows something isn’t right. She plays this part as the most emotional one of the film both for the actress and for the viewer. Her segment Day Three is one that has some of the strongest real world elements mixed in with the supernatural. Playing a part that is about as different from Matlock’s as can be is Ranon Moncrief as the Jersey Devil in the segment of the same name. His performance is more stuntman and more monster actor than anything else. His performance under all the prosthetics is worth noting and helps his segment be a very strong opening and one of the strongest of the bunch.
The special makeup effects done on this great Jersey Devil and a few other creepy, gorey, and/or bloody moments are done by Kyle Moncrief, Randy Maxson, Justyn Plath and Barry Flanagan all of whom bring forth fantastic talent and spectacular work. The aforementioned Jersey Devil is a beast of lore that is not often seen on screen and deserves to be something to behold and the team here makes him/it shine and be the central piece of the shirt and of the entire film. Their work on the beast is impressive, even more so considering Dead by Midnight’s low budget. Other noteworthy effect pieces can be found in the segments Lost Laundry and Blindside with subtle effects being used in Day Three.
Another fun component of Dead by Midnight is its music. The score is composed by Hsiang-Ming Wen, Jason Berry, and Michael Flynn with Hsiang-Ming Wen doing the theme song. Their work sounds 80s, full of nostalgia and synthwave. The sounds it provides fit with the film’s spirit and tone. The film’s images here are all shot with cinematography by Nick Lauinger, something that helps bring cohesion between the segments by keeping the style and colors even between them. One of the segments looks to have been color-corrected differently, but this may have been an artistic decision to make it standout in a visual manner.
Dead by Midnight (11p.m. Central) not only has a fun title, it’s a fun throwback horror-comedy that ises the beloved horror host/hostess set-up to bring together six short stories or segments. The way this anthology brings these together creates an 80s feel while staying anchored in mostly current life. The film as such is greatly enjoyable with a collection of well-made short horror films that are imaginative and humoristic. None of them re-write their respective sub-genres but they all bring something interesting to the table, from the Jersey Devil in the segment of the same name to the twist in Three Days and the stop-motion animation in Lost Laundry, the film is filled with goodies for horror fans. The hostess is lovely and the twist at the end works out well. Dead at Midnight (11p.m. Central) is an anthology that can proudly sit next to other Halloween-themed films and should be checked out this Half-Halloween season or anytime for that matter.