SF, fantasy, horror, mystery website
illustrated SF and general satire
music reviews
action movie heroines
helicopters in movies and TV
VideoVista is published by PIGASUS Press

Mala noche
cast: Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, and Ray Monge

director: Gus Van Sant

74 minutes (15) 1985
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Portland, Oregon, the early 1980s. Walt (Tim Streeter) is the manager of a liquor store who falls in love with a Mexican illegal, Johnny (Doug Cooeyate), who can't speak English. However, Johnny does not reciprocate.

Mala Noche ('bad night') was Gus Van Sant's first feature film, shot with amateur actors in 16mm, mostly black and white, on a budget of $25,000. The result is extremely rough and ready as you might expect. However, it does obey the rule of thumb that a director's talent will show through, however flawed his or her debut is, and that's the case here. Working from a novel by the real Walt Curtis, Van Sant conjures up an atmosphere of transient workers, illegal immigrants, and seedy boarding houses. With a fairly thin plotline (and a short running time), Mala Noche works as an atmospheric or mood piece rather than a story. Along with films like Tom Kalin's Swoon, Gregg Araki's The Living End and Todd Haynes' Poison, Mala Noche became a leading film of new queer cinema, films made by gay directors un-inclined to apologise for the content of their films. (Having said that, Mala Noche isn't that explicit - its original 18 certificate has been down-rated to 15.)

Given a DVD release alongside Van Sant's latest, Paranoid Park, Mala Noche is worth a look. However, Van Sant made a big step forward with his second feature, Drugstore Cowboy. Tartan's DVD is in the original 1.33:1 ratio with mono sound. There are no English subtitles, apart from occasional fixed ones to translate Spanish dialogue. The extras are a 26-minute director interview, and the trailer.

Did you find this review helpful? Any comments are always welcome!
Please support VideoVista, buy stuff online using these links - |
Movie Posters Direct | Send it

copyright © 2001 - 2008 VideoVista