Fantasia’s ‘The Night Watchmen’ (2016) Horror Movie Review

As the zombie subgenre finally fades away, it seems as though two new subgenres are taking its place – if the horror movies coming out in the past year mean anything, anyway. So far, we’ve got sharks (Sharknado 5, Meg, Empire of Sharks, House Shark, Cage Dive, and Shark Lake, just to name a few) and we’ve got clowns (IT, Crepitus, Behind the Sightings, The Clown Network, Clowntergeist and the Lunatic’ler, of all things). So far, clowns haven’t needed much more than their own creepy, grease painted faces to freak people out. As if that’s not bad enough, what if clowns were also vampires? Yeah, I can hear you gasping from here. In director Mitchell Altieri’s film The Night Watchmen, a selection at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, we get to see just how terrifying clownpires really would be.

One half of the horror duo known as the Butcher Brothers, director Mitchell Altieri (The Hamiltons 2006, April Fools Day 2008, The Violent Kind 2010) teamed up with producers Ken Arnold (Lovely Molly 2011) and Dan De Luca (Crazy Eights 2007) to create The Night Watchmen, a horror comedy with more horror tropes than you can shake a stake at. De Luca and Arnold also co-wrote the script (along with Altered’s (2006) Jamie Nash) and even starred in the film. The rest of the cast includes James Remar (The Blackcoat’s Daughter 2017), decorated Marine veteran Kevin Jiggetts (ParaAbnormal 2009), Max Gray Wilbur (Thrill Kill 2015), Kara Luiz (Jerks With Cameras TV series), Tiffany Shepis (Asylum of Darkness 2017), Rain Pryor (Head of the Class TV series), and Diona Reasonver (upcoming TV series Buzzy’s). The fantastically bloody and feverishly frightening special FX were created by Face-Off’s RJ Haddy.

The official synopsis:

Three inept night watchmen, aided by a young rookie and a fearless tabloid journalist, fight an epic battle for their lives against a horde of hungry vampires.

What Works

Brought to us by Local Hero Post, Indie Entertainment, Contender Films and Studio Boh, The Night Watchmen has a ton of gory and spectacular things going for it. Let’s start with the clownpires. These things are 7 feet tall and their makeup and wigs have become permanent parts of their rotting faces. I will never hear the innocent sound of squeaky clown shoes the same way again. As if this wasn’t enough, there are the cowardly and completely inept night watchmen: Ken (Ken Arnold), Jiggetts (Kevin Jiggetts), Luca (Dan De Luca) and the night watch newb whose name is not Rajeeve (Max Gray Wilbur), as well as the kickass reporter, Karen (Lara Ruiz), and the slimy boss, Randall (James Remar). I have to admit, it was pretty weird seeing Dexter’s compassionate dad/ghost as a dirty old man, but I also kinda loved it, too.


The Night Watchmen is as hilarious as it is terrifying. The meta horror jokes are fantastic and are a great way to break up the ratcheted tension brought on by the hordes of slobbering, razor-toothed vampires. This script rags on Twilight, man buns, and pervy office workers. Boobs flash, female vamps make out and the vampires smell like shit-roasting farts every time one dies. The humor is crude, corny and juvenile – just the way I like it.

There’s also a freaking ton of blood in this film. The stuff sprays pretty much constantly. Everyone is covered in red and black goo for over half of the film’s runtime. The vampires are hideous, and they tear into everything that moves. Since they can’t be seen on the building’s security cameras, sometimes the only way you know a vamp is taking off is by the bloody footprints they leave behind as they run away. I love that the watchmen tried to pull a vampire’s teeth out to make him less dangerous. If they’re like zombies and their teeth don’t automatically grow back, a toothless vampire would be much easier to defeat and maybe even be used as camouflage the way they do on The Walking Dead. Definitely something someone should explore more heavily.


I would be remiss if I didn’t give extra special props to ’90s post-grunge band Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, the guys behind nearly every song played in this film. I especially love the song played during the opening credits (guys, where can I download this?) that reminded me of The Jim Carroll Band’s track “People Who Died.” They have this hi-test, punkabilly sound that made me think of The Legendary Hucklebucks from The Barn, which I consider a huge compliment.

What Doesn’t Work

I really don’t have much to complain about regarding The Night Watchmen. I do wish that there had been more clownpires and less office worker vampires. I’m sure hardcore horror fanatics will find this movie a bit too silly and ridiculous, and I can’t really argue with that, but it personally didn’t bother me at all. I also have to admit that the sound of not-Rajeeve screaming made me twitch, but that’s totally a personal gripe.

Final Thoughts

The Night Watchmen is a great way to spend 75 minutes, especially if you have a few friends, a few pizzas and a few beers hanging around. It’s fun, gory and entertaining as hell. And, if you happen to hear a repetitive squeaking outside your window later that night when you’re all alone, hope to hell that someone saved you a nice, big, garlicky slice of Papa John’s finest to ward that bloodthirsty clown off until daylight.



About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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