Vinegar Syndrome’s ‘Pledge Night’ (1990) 2K Restoration Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review

Once again, it’s time for some Vinegar Syndrome goodness! For September 2019, we’ve got a double feature of the 1990 T&A gorefest, Pledge Night, and the straight up horror flick, The Vineyard. I figured I’d pick Pledge Night to watch and review first, since I was in the mood for a good horror comedy. Let’s dive right in!


As a silly frat boy prank, Young Sid is boiled in a tub of acid. Years later he returns to wreak havoc on the new generation of brothers in his old fraternity.

Pledge Night was directed by Paul Ziller, the man behind many a SyFy TV movie, including Iron Golem (2011), Polar Storm (2009), Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon (2008) and Sea Beast (2008 – read our review here). Producer Joyce Snyder (Raw Talent franchise) wrote the screenplay. Heavy metal thrashers Anthrax composed the score for the film. Street Trash’s (1987) Dean Kartalas masterminded the blood-drenched special FX, while Erik Shaper (Child’s Play 2 1990) created the look for Acid Sid. Todd Eastland (Mommy’s Day 1997), Dennis Sullivan (Raising Arizona 1987), Craig Derrick (New York’s Finest 1990), David Neal Evans, Robert Lentini (The Refrigerator 1991), James Davies (Wildest Dreams 1990), Michael T. Henderson (54 1998), Steven Christopher Young (Friends and Enemies 1992), Lawton Paseka (Godzilla 1998), and Alaskan Bush People producer Shannon McMahon star in this comedy horror film. Anthrax’s own Joey Belladonna plays Young Sid, while Makeup Artist Will Kempe (Hit The Dutchman 1992) plays the mutilated Acid Sid. Pledge Night was filmed at the Delta Phi (Rutgers) Fraternity House at 17 Union Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Pledge Night 1990
Mullets and preppy sweaters abound in Pledge Night

*Special Features*

  • Newly scanned and restored in 2k from its 35mm original camera negative
  • “Hell Weeks” – a video interview with Director Paul Ziller
  • “Graduating To Horror” – an interview with Writer/Producer Joyce Snyder
  • “Hazing From Hell” – an interview with Actor Robert Lentini
  • “The Bad Man” – an interview with Actor Arthur Lindquist
  • Locations featurette
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitles

What Works in Pledge Night

Yes, you read that right. Freaking Anthrax composed the score for Pledge Night, something they’ve only done for one other film, Ghosts of Mars (2001), and band member Joey Belladonna got to play Young Sid in a flashback scene. If that doesn’t make you want to watch this flick, read on. Like any good ’80s slasher, the boobs were on display. I think every girl in this film showed hers off at least once… well, except for Bonner’s mother (Barbara Summerville: Prime Evil 1988), who looked young enough to be attending classes there herself. I need to congratulate Robert Lentini, the guy who played Silvera, on his willingness to eat some of the most disgusting things on camera, including live worms and raw eggs. No wonder he never made another film… he was probably terrified of what he would have to put in his mouth next. The hazing rituals, which took up 75% of the film, were awesome and nasty. Some of my favorites include a race that involved butt-clenched maraschino cherries, a blindfolded bobbing for mystery objects in the toilet, and a corncob that the boys had to wear that was tied to a very precarious place. Pledge Night would have been a fun comedy without the killer hippie aspect, but I digress.

Pledge Night 1990
You’ll never guess where these cherries have been and what he has to do with them now.

On to the deaths! We had some great ones in Pledge Night, including an undead chest bursting, a drowning in acid, an underwear cherry bomb, a suffocation in rotting guts and a zombie-assisted penis removal. How much more can you ask for? Surprisingly, Psi Epsilon Nu (PEN) is an actual fraternity for the English Honor Society. I seriously doubt these guys were English majors, however. One of the best lines in the whole film was the repetition of a guy’s (Sullivan) name: “Bodiiiine!” They must have yelled at that guy at least a dozen times. The final twist was like a shovel to the face that you see coming for a full 10 minutes, yet you stand there and let it gong your noggin full-tilt-boogie because you just can’t stop watching.

Pledge Night 1990
Always look in the toilet before you sit down.

What Doesn’t Work in Pledge Night

The final 2k transfer is decent but not sparkling. It reminded me a bit of a previous Vin Syn release, The Suckling (read my review here). Like I mentioned back then, these guys can only work with what they have, and there’s only so much you can do to restore a low quality film. Another reason Pledge Night reminded me of The Suckling was the fact that the sound was off quite a bit, which can be terribly distracting. If I wasn’t so entertained by the ridiculous hazing rituals, I would have been irritated by the fact that Acid Sid and the death that he wrought didn’t even show up until the 40 minute mark. The dialogue was, at times, stilted, making these college students sound like 50 year-old men, and at others, so over the top, I thought I was watching the worst Shakespeare in the Park rendition in history. Sally Field, eat your heart out!

Pledge Night 1990
He’s been boiled in acid, but at least his hair is gnarly!

Pick up the Pledge Night Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack from Vinegar Syndrome right here!

Final Thoughts

Despite the drawbacks, I really did enjoy Pledge Night. It’s a fun flick to watch, and it has some fantastic death scenes. I do wish the transfer had been clearer, but hey, what can I say. I’m spoiled. The Vinegar Syndrome Pledge Night 2k Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack is a limited edition, so grab your copy before they’re all gone! You’ll be glad you did.

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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