“Delightful” isn’t typically a word one reaches for when describing a horror flick but it was the first that came to my mind when the credits rolled on the 1985 made-for-television movie “The Midnight Hour,” which I watched for the first time last week at the suggestion of a reader. While definitely spooky in tone, the film is also sweet, funny and boasts what Bloody Disgusting describes as an “earworm soundtrack . . . stuffed with notable October (and horror) favorites.” With retro staples like “Bad Moon Rising” and “In the Midnight Hour,” the flick certainly had my toes tapping! The cast, too, is loaded with classics, in this case ‘80s stars Dick Van Patten, Shari Belafonte, Peter DeLuise, Lee Montgomery and LeVar Burton of “Reading Rainbow” fame.
The beloved tale takes place, naturally, on Halloween night when highschooler Melissa Cavender (Belafonte), the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Lucinda Cavender (Jonelle Allen) – one of the most powerful witches to ever live! – unwittingly unleashes “all of the legendary demons of hell, as well as the dead with unfinished business on earth” on the small New England hamlet of Pitchford Cove, or “Pitchfork Cove” as it is also said to be known. The only person who can save the town – as well as humanity as a whole? Melissa’s shy high school buddy Phil Grenville (Montgomery), scion of Pitchford’s famed Witchhunter General, who thwarted Lucinda’s evil plans years prior.
Despite what the idyllically leaf-strewn background would have you believe, filming did not take place in New England, but in Los Angeles. Pitchford Cove’s quaint town square, with its local police station, barbershop and Witchcraft Museum, is actually Midwest Street at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, the very same locale that famously portrayed Stars Hollow on “Gilmore Girls.” The “old Cavender house,” where Melissa hosts a Halloween party and most everyone gets turned into a vampire, is Altadena’s oft-filmed Fair Oaks Ranch. And Monrovia’s Burr House pulls double duty in the film, popping up as both the home of Phil and his family as well as that of his jock friend Mitch Crandall (DeLuise).
One of the area’s oldest and most historic properties, the picturesque Victorian, located a few blocks north of downtown at 150 N. Myrtle Ave., was originally constructed in 1893, just six years after the city itself was incorporated. (Please remember this is a private home. Do not trespass or bother the residents or the property in any way.)