Directed by Ralph S. Singleton [Other horror films: N/A]
Though this is far from one of the better Stephen King adaptations, I think that Graveyard Shift carries with it some charm, much of it from a combination of the schlocky nature of the story and Stephen Macht’s overly enjoyable performance.
While it’s based off a short story from King’s first collection, Night Shift, not too much in this hour-and-a-half long film seems too unnecessary. Certainly, showcasing Warwick’s despicable nature more overtly here was a nice addition, which makes sense since they were trying to find some additional padding for the story, which was somewhat thread-bare in the original short story.
Without a doubt, Stephen Macht gave the best performance here. I don’t know what his accent was (sounds like a strong Louisiana twang), but he commanded attention in every single scene he was in. I really enjoyed Macht’s portrayal of Warwick, though it did get a bit much toward the end (more on that shortly). The main character, played by the milquetoast David Andrews, left naught a single impression whatsoever. Kelly Wolf had some gumption, but her character didn’t much amount to much, aside from hint at Andrews’ untold back-story.
Brad Dourif also appeared somewhat extensively in the film, but I thought his character was far, far too over-the-top. This isn’t to say that Macht’s character wasn’t, but Dourif took it to a new level, and I admit that while I usually enjoy his performances, this one turned me off somewhat.
A few things, such as the back-story of Andrews’ character, made Graveyard Shift feel somewhat incomplete. We’re literally never given any idea of what makes Andrews’ character tick – he was a blank slate, and we about never learn a thing about him. Another problem I had was that the conclusion felt as though it was escalating too quickly. It’s a shame, as otherwise, things were mostly plodding along fine.
One of the absolute best things about the film, though, was the setting. From an expansive cavern filled with bones to a flooded out, marshy graveyard, which stands next to an old, ominous mill, Graveyard Shift really knew how to use their settings, and it stood out as easily one of the most memorable parts of the film.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the clinical style of the short story more, but I appreciate how they attempted to flesh out Warwick’s character here, and I can’t say it enough: Stephen Macht’s performance is fantastic. I’d say that this is somewhat below average, but I will admit to enjoying it a hell of a lot more this time around as opposed to when I first saw it some years back, and while some aspects weren’t that great (including much of the conclusion), I suspect this has decent rewatchability.