Wrenage is like Santa Claus. He comes in the night and, when you wake up, he has left a gift behind. In Wrenage’s case, it is the gift of a Retro Review. If you want to be like Wrenage when you grow up, you can send us Outposter contributions about anything you want to share from the world of movies and entertainment to [email protected] and we will take a look.
Today he talks about a lesser know Stephen King adaption.
Night Shift by Stephen King contains some stories that made me feel like I was covered with a thin layer of slime. One story was Graveyard Shift. After the characters entered the lair of the mutant rat/bats, I had to leave the book alone for a few hours. It was like I had discovered the Necronomicon and reading any further would unleash its horrors into the real world. Good times!
Back then, Hollywood felt the need to put as much Stephen King product as possible onscreen. That was in the dim dead days of… wait for a second… (…does research).
Never mind, Hollywood still feels the need to put as much Stephen King product as possible onscreen. They are currently filming a movie based on King’s address book. It has a $100-million budget and stars Samuel L. Jackson. Tagline:
“Terror from A to Zahn’s Pool Cleaning.”
Ergo, it doesn’t really matter that the film version of Graveyard Shift came out in 1990. It could have just as well been made today. Let’s examine this eloquent answer to other nuanced rat flicks, such as Rats: Night of Terror and Food of the Gods.
The Paramount logo comes up. This reminds me Raiders of the Lost Ark exists, and I can cling to that truth during moments of crisis, like while waiting for my wife to exit TJ Maxx. What do women see in that place anyway? It’s the Pete Davidson of stores.
Graveyard Shift takes place in a textile mill. King loves to go on about his time working in textile mills and industrial laundries. It gives him working-class cred. Plus, crappy jobs have an odd charm to them once they are in the rearview mirror. One of my crappiest days was working 16 hours in 100-degree weather with an abscessed tooth building up so much pressure it squirted puss out of my gumline that night. Terrible at the time. Now it’s a badge of honor.
Plus, it wasn’t as bad as sitting through Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Within the movie, a sweaty dude loads raw cotton into a picker machine, which is a Gyro Gearloose contraption of pullies, belts, chains, gears, and lots of sharp edges.
Graveyard Shift was shot at a real textile mill and got a lot of production value out of the location. Sweat, heat, clutter, and dangerous machinery leak palpable discomfort from the screen. Plus, there are rats everywhere. The creep over junk. They line the stairs and stare with beady eyes, lifeless eyes, doll’s eyes. One of them matriculates on a chair.
Sweaty Dude talks disparagingly to the rats while running the picker. Just for fun, he throws a rat into said picker, where it begins its journey to become a pair of Fruit-of-the-Loom underpants.
An ominous shadow appears behind Sweaty Dude. He turns, screams, and falls into the picker himself. We get the image of a severed foot and lots of bloody cotton wads. I imagine you would get a similar scene at a convention for nose-bleeders. The rats munch on it, and I toy with the idea of barfing.
The credits begin. Larry Sugar is one of 238 producers of Graveyard Shift. Larry Sugar produced Steel Dawn with Patrick Swayze. Never saw it. I saw Steele Justice with Martin Kove, though. Is that like drinking Sun Drop instead of Mountain Dew or is it like drinking Mountain Dew instead of Sun Drop? Before you write Martin Kove over Patrick Swayze off as ridiculous, let me throw this little tidbit out there. Martin Kove wears a pet coral snake around his neck in Steele Justice.
Ralph S. Singleton directed Graveyard Shift. Beyond that, he’s best known for directing an episode of Cagney and Lacey. You know the one? The one where Cagney did stuff…and Lacey helped…
Music is by Anthony Marinelli and Brian Banks. They both worked on quite a few films, not as actual composers, but in music departments: Wargames, Over The Top, Stakeout, Tango & Cash, etc. I recall kids at school saying “FUBAR” when Tango & Cash came out and giggling at their risqué brilliance until the teacher finally said:
“I know what that means, guys. I see movies, too…”
That was the biggest glimpse I got into a teacher’s personal life. Now male teachers tell second graders they wear ladies underwear. That does not seem like a good idea to me. No kid is going to respect a teacher who admits to that much cootie-potential.
John Esposito wrote the Graveyard Shift screenplay. He has not done a lot of films since then, but he is currently doing Creepshow episodes. It’s nice to see little guys still in there scrapping.
As the credits play, the movie shows lingering shots of a cemetery. You know you are in the hands of horror masters when a movie opens with shots of a cemetery.
“You know what’s scary?”
“Being alone in an uncaring universe?”
“Cemeteries! With gravestones like those big plastic ones from Halloween Express! Actually, let’s use those big plastic ones from Halloween Express! Get me some of those plastic skeletons and severed arms, too! I want those teenagers in the audience screaming! If they don’t scream, I’ll have you back on Cagney and Lacey so fast your head spins!”
Brad Dourif appears. He plays John Goodman’s role from Arachnophobia as an exterminator who takes his job too seriously. He wears a tactical chest rig. Dourif doesn’t actually attach anything to it, however. It’s just there to look cool, like a teenager wearing fingerless gloves.
It seems Dourif is Hollywood’s go-to guy when they need a weirdo, which is fine, but he gives the impression of being an auteur weirdo, like he sits in his trailer and needs to be alone to achieve some sort of mystical weirdo-ness that will move people to tears. Only when he is sure his weirdness has grown big enough to overshadow the entire movie, will he come out to hold forth.
Douriff and his partner mount an operation with hoses that appear to pump rats out of the textile mill and into the river. Frankly, I’m not sure what they’re doing. Maybe it is a metaphor for government policy. On second thought, then they’d pump rats into the building.
The hero, played by David Andrews, arrives in town. Andrews played the guy in Terminator 3 who turns on Skynet (with a switch, not sexually). Female characters immediately comment on his desirability. Yes, we once lived in a world where David Andrews was cast in the smoky, hot stranger role. Maybe he could have ended up as Hollywood’s It-Guy if Brad Pitt hadn’t shown up in Thelma and Louise a year later and stole all of the thunder Andrews generated with Graveyard Shift.
Andrews enters a diner where the flannel-to-patron ratio is 3:1. Mill workers make up part of the crowd. One such brohem is Andrew Divoff, who played the evil genie – excuse me, djinn – in the Wishmaster movies. Another worker is played by Vic Polizos, who played the sandwich-eating coroner in Night of the Creeps. Since we’re dealing with small-town folks, Hollywood is compelled to make them disgusting hicks. Polizos asks the waitress if she wants to make a baby with him, doggie-style.
The more I think about that line, the stupider it becomes. If it is supposed to be funny, it is completely devoid of wit. You could just as well ask:
“Want to make a baby with me, reverse cowgirl-style?”
Maybe more dialogue existed originally.
“Want to make a baby with me, doggy-style?”
“Because yore a bee-yotch! Haha-hoho-heehee!”
None of these characters are likable. They make me want to take a shower. Andrews checks out the bulletin board to see that the textile mill is hiring. He goes there. The mill is named the Bachman Textile Mill, after King’s pseudonym. I enjoy King’s Bachman work. Some days I put The Running Man as my favorite novel. That book cooks. Very little fat on it.
Meanwhile, the mill foreman, Warwick is bribing a safety inspector to give him until after the Fourth of July weekend to clean the mill’s basement. Warwick is played by Fred Ward (RIP) lookalike and Monster Squad alumni Stephen Macht. Macht does a nice job being a slimy jerk with a Maine accent. I get the feeling he isn’t treating the movie as a paycheck. He’s putting forth effort.
Warwick interviews Andrews, and they size each other up with duelling machismo. Warwick’s power move is offering coffee with a fly in it that is an “instant enema.” Warwick then lets it be known he doesn’t trust a drifter. He growls:
“No guarantees with a drifter.”
To which Andrews replies:
“No guarantees with any man, only instinct…”
I sprouted three new chest hairs watching this exchange. Those three new chest hairs then had an arm-wrestling contest, and the winner chugged a beer. They also yelled “Wooo!” a whole bunch.
Andrews gets the job vacated by the aforementioned Sweaty Dude – the guy who took a header into the picker. Andrews also develops a relationship with the many rats who keep him company during his shift. Rather than disparage them verbally, Andrews uses a slingshot to shoot soda cans at them. Diet Pepsi soda cans, to be exact.
Do you think Pepsi sponsored this movie? If so, that makes me want to buy a Pepsi. I like the cut of their gib because they had the vision to hitch their wagon to a giant rat/bat movie. I suppose it makes sense. It is claimed that soda cans are often covered with rat urine. That’s why I prefer bottles. Plus, I can store my own urine in bottles afterward like Howard Hughs. Live the life you want, folks.
Dourif pops by to introduce himself to Andrews. He offers to shake hands while holding a dead rat. We then get dialogue used in the trailer.
“This place is infested.”
“That might be the understatement of the year.”
Dourif gives a weird monologue about his experience with Vietnam rats. It’s a bit too extreme for a goofy movie like this, and it serves no purpose. The rats aren’t the villains of the movie. A giant rat/bat is the villain. Dourif reveals, again, how seriously he takes his job. He has a .38 revolver in an ankle holster. It all ends up pointless, however. Dourif never uses the gun. He’s just in the movie to be weird and to be lauded for his wacky weirdness.
One of the other mill workers is a bald guy who played a store manager in Ghostbusters 2. He mugs it up for the camera with an impression of Warwick. It’s not a bad impression. As far as bald-guy acting goes, Ghostbusters 2 guy is no Rex Linn, however, who I just found out is married to Reba McEntire. I was present when Reba spoke to a coworker of mine while we were at one of her concerts for a work outing. She talked about how one of her first hits was in 1982. My coworker yells:
“I was born in ’82!”
He got a response from Reba:
“Thank you for making me feel old.”
Warwick enters the scene and applauds the imitation, says that Ghostbusters 2 guy is ready for Star Search. Warwick then hits on the heroine of Graveyard Shift played by Kelly Wolf. She has worked mainly in TV. Graveyard Shift did not propel her to lofty heights, I’m afraid. Too bad. She could have played Sylvester Stallone’s sister, Roxy, in a Rocky movie. She kind of looks like Stallone.
The movie has gone nearly 20 minutes without a victim. It needs to get the show on the road, so it puts a cannon-fodder guy in the mill’s basement to string up lights for the upcoming clean up.
Again, the movie gets high marks for set design. The basement is a hellhole that definitely needs cleaning. It’s as disgusting as the movie’s characters. Cannon-Fodder guy hears a noise. The giant rat/bat hangs upside down behind him and chomps him. The guy’s screaming face is visible through one of the beastie’s leathery wings.
Creature effects in Graveyard Shift are solid. The giant rat/bat is repulsive and feels real. As near as I can tell, a guy named Tom Czarnopys did the creature sculpt. Movies he worked on include Johnny Neumonic, Jacob’s Ladder, Splice and The Fugitive. Evan Penny (eXistenZ) also helped out with sculpting. Other guys doing the mechanical effects of the creature are Bill Turgeon (Hellboy, The Ring, Planet of the Apes), James Gawley (Resident Evil, I Robot), Gordon Smith (X-Men, X-Men 2) and Raymond Mackintosh (Cube, Natural Born Killers).
Immediately after Cannon-Fodder guy is killed, the movie cuts to the textile mill’s secretary putting out a “Now Hiring” sign. If I owned the mill, I’d put her in charge. She’s a mover and a shaker.
Andrews returns to the diner because they had a diner on location, so they might as well use it. The movie was shot in Harmony, Maine, a little town of about 800 people in the middle of the woods. That must have been a surreal experience to be a resident of such a place and have Hollywood blow in for a couple of weeks to shoot a giant rat/bat movie. You could go out to get the mail, and all of a sudden, heartthrob David Andrews walks by in the flesh. And then one day, he doesn’t walk by anymore, and you are left with only your memories and mail. How can that ever be enough again?
Then again, the residents of Harmony could also stop guarding their children against adrenochrome harvesting once the Hollywood folk left.
Anyway, the mill mob runs Andrews out of the diner with their wacky, distasteful jokes. Wolf drives by and gives him a ride. She tells him she is from Castle Rock. (I recognize that reference and proceed to brag to the people watching the movie with me…except there are none. But if there had been, they’d surely be in awe of my genius!) Wolf asks is Andrews has a wife.
Oops. But Wolf has a sorry-not-sorry look on her face about little faux paux. Andrews being a widower means he is fair game for loving!
This makes Warwick jealous, as he believes that all of the females who work at the mill are his own personal harem. While Warwick glares angrily, a guy who looks like Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds shows up and asks about the job opening.
Warrick brings Lamar down to the mill’s hellhole of a basement to continue stringing lights. Warwick leaves, and we get a shot of the blind, opaque eye of the giant rat/bat. It looks real. I’m beginning to think they had a living giant rat/bat in this movie. Perhaps, the giant rat/bat is one of the underworld gods the Hollywood elite worship, and they feed it second-tier actors for its favor.
The theory is not completely implausible.
Lamar puts on his Walkman headphones and gets to work. Egad! A shadow creeps up behind him! But it is only Warwick returning to supply a jump scare. There may be an attempt at allegory going on here, as well, in that the filmmakers are saying Warwick is a monster.
The theory is not completely implausible.
A pretty millworker who Warwick was, in Polizos parlance, trying to have a baby with doggy-style gets on Warwick’s bad side. I forget how exactly. As a result, she gets assigned to the basement clean-up crew. She ain’t having none of that, however. She takes an axe to Warwick’s black Coupe DeVille, and the whole town comes out to watch. Warwick is annoyed by this and assertively confronts Pretty Millworker. She asks him:
“How can you do this to me?”
“You like it rough.”
Warwick replies, which leads her to declare:
“You can’t put me down there! You can’t put anyone down there! I know things!”
“Better watch what you’re saying!”
Warwick threatens to feed Pretty Millworker a five-finger sandwich with knuckle sauce. Andrews is on the scene, however. He grabs Warwick’s wrist before the man can throw a punch. Andrews and Warwick glare at each other with homoerotic tension, before Warwick declares:
“Show’s oh-vah, Ev-ree bah-dee get bach to wuht you ah dune.”
I notice that Warwick has an old man body at the end of this scene, like he is an 80-year-old trapped in the skin of a 40-year-old and trying to rip his way out to make it to the VFW.
Andrews does maintenance on the picker machine. He pulls out a file and files something. It’s the action of people who aren’t mechanical trying to look mechanical onscreen. Rats file into the room to watch. Andrews goes for his slingshot and Diet Pepsi cans. He acts all nonchalant, like the rats are onto him. He is about to let the pop can fly…but the rats are gone.
A shadow creeps up behind Andrews. He gets another can ready and…the shadow belongs to Warwick! The movie is making him the monster again.
Warwick and Andrews have another passive aggressive conversation. Warwick thanks Andrews for all that he has done. As a show of gratitude, Warwick wants to let Andrews join the basement clean-up crew. Andrews is not buying it, so Warwick sweetens the deal.
“I watched you work and like your style. It’s going to be a mess, do doubt about it, but a college boy like you could use double pay.”
Andrews coolly drags on his cigarette.
“Thank you, Mr. Warwick.”
“You are so welcome.”
Warwick says and aggressively bites an apple. So much flirting.
We are back in the diner again. The filmmakers probably shot 20 percent of the movie in a day by doing all of the diner scenes back-to-back. The Mill Mob is again cracking jokes at Andrews. He and Wolf get out of there. Following them out, the movie pauses to show an old man pull a hair out of his soup. Haha! Hair! Soup! It’s funny!
Wolf and Andrews go back to her place and talk about their lives. In an unexpected twist, they don’t make the beast with two backs. They get to know each other instead. It is refreshing. After Wolf’s divorce, Warwick tried to help her out. He offered her a promotion to office manager, and all she had to do was sleep with him every Monday and Wednesday.
Warwick probably overplayed his hand there. She might have slept with him every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday if he just let her skip all of the meetings that could have been an email.
The Pretty Millworker Warwick treated like dirt sneaks into the office at night to get even. She goes through Warwick’s desk, says “Bingo!” and finds a Bingo card.
Just kidding. She finds an OSHA violation. I’m not sure how that will accomplish anything, however. Everyone knows the only thing holding that textile mill together is bribes and tetanus.
On her way out, Pretty Millworker drops her flashlight and stumbles down the basement stairs. She apparently breaks her neck and lays there while rats chew on her a bit. Then the giant rat/bat comes and finishes her off.
Her demise comes off as a bit too mean-spirited. Originally, Graveyard Shift got an X-rating for being too gruesome. I can see that. Graveyard Shift is a cornball movie, and the deaths should probably have more of a cornball quality. Instead, they are treated with an edginess that doesn’t quite work.
Surfing Safari plays while rats ride bits of wood being washed away by the clean-up crew. The clean-up crew is composed of Andrews, Wolf, Polizos, Wishmaster guy, Ghostbusters 2 guy, and Lamar. Polizos runs a high-pressure hose. He and Wishmaster guy amuse themselves by shooting pop cans out of the air with the hose. Warwick comes down and puts a stop to their fun.
“Don’t be cute with the hose. It can spray a body onto a slab.”
Nevertheless, Polizos loves that hose. He continually sprays it while yelling like Mac in Predator when the character caps off 20,000 rounds with the mini-gun. Full pack.
Meanwhile, Wolf and Lamar go through old papers, and Andrews and Ghostbusters 2 guy clean up piles of old office equipment. They are making genuine progress. The basement looks like less of a hellhole. Ghostbusters 2 guy finds a rolltop desk. He reaches inside to open it and finds his arm covered with rats. Polizos comes over and hoses the rodents into mush.
Personal anecdote: I’m okay with snakes, but I don’t like rats and mice. I was bitten by a mouse as a kid. I expected to develop the proportional speed and strength of a mouse and become a superhero. Instead, all I did was develop the ability to eat my cereal by chewing through the box and the talent to leave mummified defecation in the forgotten corners of cupboards.
Back to the movie… for whatever reason, Polizos has a psycho moment and starts trying to make Lamar dance by shooting the hose at his feet.
Ghostbusters 2 guy breaks it up. He complains about cleaning up the basement. Are they not men? Do they not deserve better? Warwick returns while Ghostbusters 2 guy has his socialist worker’s paradise revelation. Warwick then fires him, which is fine. It enables him to avoid being eaten by the giant rat/bat.
Speaking of the giant rat/bat…its vocalizations were made by Frank Welker, who has voiced more than 2,372,390 characters, including Spock’s screams in Star Trek III, Soundwave in the Transformers cartoons, Octalus in Deep Rising, and Nibbler in Futurama.
A dog munches on Warwick’s chair. The dog belongs to Dourif and just now enters the movie out of nowhere. Dourif gives another weird monologue about his dog.
“It didn’t waste time chasing frisbees on the beach. It is a rat hunter from birth.”
Yada, yada. Douriff is a cartoon at this stage. Warwick, who seems to have the ability to teleport the way he appears in every scene, busts Dourif’s chops about the rat-pumping event seen at the beginning of the movie. Folks didn’t like all of the rats pumped into their water supply. Yet, Warwick won’t tattle on him…if Dourif finds and wipes out the rat breeding ground. Warwick suggests checking the cemetery seen during the opening credits.
Dourif agrees and ventures out to the cemetery with his dog. The dog gets on the scent of something and runs into a crypt. The dog’s barking grows fainter as it follows some hidden tunnel deep into the ground. All this reminds me of the definitive rats-in-a-cemetery story written by Henry Kuttner called The Graveyard Rats. Great story. I had a wonderful English teacher in eighth grade who would spend the first 15 minutes of each class reading books to us. He had a great bass voice. For Halloween, he read The Graveyard Rats. That was, perhaps, my best day of junior high.
Dourif listens to the barks of his dog grow fainter and end with yelping. He goes into the crypt to investigate. The floor collapses and a coffin crushes him. What a waste. You have a weird exterminator in a giant rat/bat movie, and you don’t have him face off against the giant rat/bat?
That is unacceptable.
At Dourif’s demise, the film cuts to Warwick looking evil. The movie doesn’t say it directly, but between stuff like this and Pretty Millworker’s earlier threat, one gets the impression Warwick knows about the giant rat/bat. This might have been an interesting storyline to pursue. Perhaps, he worships the giant rat/bat; but, nope, the movie can’t waste time with such intrigues.
Andrews lights a cigarette. He seems to do this a lot in an effort to look cool and unaffected by everything. Wolf wearily eats a sandwich.
“Just a few more hours.”
Then they can spend all of that double-pay money. Let’s look into that a bit. Suppose the plan is to work three 16-hour days at double pay. The minimum wage in 1990 was $4 an hour. Let’s say textile mill workers made $8 an hour then. That means they earn $128 a day. Over three days, that is $384. $400 in 1990 is equal to about $900 today.
If you already have a full-time job, would you volunteer to spend a holiday weekend working extra hours and courting typhoid for $900?
Younger folks who have their eyes on prizes might. People who owe bookies might. I don’t think I would. If I needed $900 that bad, I could always write articles for movie sites. That’s where the money is, baby!
Break’s oh-vuh. The group gets back to work. Andrews finds a subcellar. Warwick teleports there to be on top of the discovery. They deduce that must be where the rats are coming from. Nobody particularly wants to go down there, but Andrews volunteers…if he can pick the person to carry the hose for him. Warwick agrees.
Andrews, that clever scamp, then responds with:
“I pick you! Management should be there in case I find buried treasure.”
Warwick, ever the good – albeit, nasty – sport agrees.
They all go down into the sub-basement, which one would expect to be an even bigger hellhole, but it’s actually cleaner than the rest of the mill.
Nevertheless, Polizos opines that it smells like stale piss. Next, he gets a bunch of spiders on his face. Then he finds a severed arm. Not a good day for him all of a sudden. He freaks out and tries to run back up the stairs. The stairs collapse, and he falls through the floor into an underground pool. The water has a red tint to it. It looks like cherry Kool-Aid. The giant rat/bat imitates Jaws and gets Polizos.
Everyone panics. Warwick, Wishmaster, guy and Lamar flee the scene and end up in what is maybe a moonshine-still room. Warwick breaks open a crate of booze and says they can use it as weapons. He then wipes muck from the bottle all over his face.
I guess we have to cancel Stephen Macht now. His actions qualify as blackface, in my knee-jerk opinion, especially with Lamar right there in the same room. I deserve a lot of virtue-signaling cred for being the first one to spot this thirty-year-old discretion.
Meanwhile, Andrews and Wolf run down a different set of tunnels. It’s like the mines of Moria under that textile mill. They also fall into Kool-Aid. They wade their merry way through it, using a coffin as a floatation device… even though it looks like their feet are touching the floor.
Cut back to Warwick leading Wishmaster guy and Lamar down a different tunnel. They find a branch that looks like it leads back up. They crawl into it. Lamar finds a hole in the wall and reaches inside it. The giant rat/bat is in there and relieves Lamar of his hand. Then the giant rat/bat relieves Lamar of his life.
Warwick and Wishmaster guy flee. Wishmaster guy starts to lose it.
“No more! No more! I’m not going anymore!”
Wishmaster sits down and pouts. Warwick has the look of a man dealing with a woman in the throes of PMS and makes the cardinal mistake of saying:
“It’s not that bad.”
Wishmaster then grows beyond consoling, so Warwick leaves him. Wishmaster hears something and lights his lighter, only to see the giant rat/bat inches from his face. The giant rat/bat drags Wishmaster through a hole in the floor. Warwick teleports back to see it happen and throws a bottle of moonshine down the hole in retaliation. That will show the giant rat/bat. Few things can cause as much damage to a mutant monster as an impotently tossed bottle of booze. Warwick then takes off running and falls down into a cavern filled with all those skeletons from Halloween Express.
Andrews and Wolf also end up in the skeleton pit after some aimless Kool-Aid wading and having their coffin break open and spill out a corpse. I guess that is why they were dragging the coffin along with them. It contained a jump scare.
Warwick reaches out of the pile of bones and grabs Wolf’s ankle. Him and Andrews end up fighting. Andrews uses a jawbone, Samson-style. Warwick beats Andrews up with a skull. Finally, Warwick finds a knife and stabs Wolf dead. I did not expect that. She was a nice lady. Maybe they were trying to subvert expectations, but it comes off as nihilistic. Esposito must have been having the standard existential creative twenty-something crisis when he wrote this screenplay.
Warwick takes off running. For whatever reason he starts crawling through the dirt army-guy style before engaging the giant rat/bat in a knife fight, telling it:
“We’re going to hell, together!”
Unsurprisingly, the knife fight with the giant rat/bat goes badly for Warwick. He gets noshed, and Andrews looks on, giving a Jeremiah-Johnson nod of approval.
Andrews then escapes the tunnels by climbing up a shaft. He ends up in his picker work station.
Andrews isn’t safe yet, however. The giant rat/bat lunges through the wall. Andrews hides under the picker. The beastie tears it up. In the process, the beastie gets his tail caught in the picker. Andrews goes for his slingshot and Diet Pepsi cans. He shoots the picker switch, slow-motion-style. The picker turns on. The giant rat/bat gets ground up into hamburger. Rats eat more bloody cotton.
The “Now Hiring” sign is again hanging outside the textile mill, but it now says “Under New Management.” Does that mean Andrews is now the boss? Does it mean the giant rat/bat was managing the textile mill? Do we care?
No traditional score over the credits. Rather, we get a song that is samples of dialogue from the movie. It’s not on the level of the remix of the Christian Bale rant, but Graveyard Shift predated perfected remix science. It reminds me of the time I hooked a VHS player to a tape deck and recorded a bunch of movie samples. It actually ended up being pretty awesome. I think it is still laying around somewhere. I should make my wife listen to it.
And maybe that is why she stays in TJ Maxx so long. It is a break from me…
Graveyard Shift is trash. There’s no getting around it. It has a few things going for it: the set design is pretty swell, the care the designers gave in building the creature is evident and Macht really digs into the juiciness of the Warwick role.
However, the other characters are pretty bland. The story isn’t particular great and doesn’t get the most out of the concept. The movie doesn’t really have a beginning, middle and end. It has a beginning and some stuff that happens until the creature is shredded. Dourif never confronted the giant rat/bat. How much Warwick knew was not addressed. I’m guessing the reason the water under the textile mill was red Kool-Aid was because all of the formaldehyde from the bodies into the cemetery leeched into it, and the giant rat/bat mutated eating those corpses, or rather rats and bats mutated and then somehow mated to produce the giant rat/bat, but none of that is covered. None of the jokes are particularly funny. No one is particularly likeable. It’s all kind of yucky.
Graveyard Shift probably works best after coming home from a long day of work and flipping the TV to something that requires zero effort from the viewer by not getting them wrapped up in anything that is happening onscreen. It is simply noise to have on while unwinding.