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Graveyard Shift is a 1990 American horror film directed by Ralph S. Singleton, written by John Esposito, starring David Andrews, Stephen Macht, Kelly Fox, and Brad Dourif, and based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King[2] which was first published in the 1970 issue of Cavalier magazine, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.[2] The movie was released in October 1990.

Graveyard Shift
Graveyard Shift film.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed byRalph S. Singleton
Produced byWilliam J. Dunn
Ralph S. Singleton
Screenplay byJohn Esposito
Based onShort story by
Stephen King
Music byBrian Banks
Anthony Marinelli
CinematographyPeter Stein
Edited byJim Gross
Randy Jon Morgan
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
October 26, 1990 (1990-10-26)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10.5 million
Box office$11.6 million[1]



Jason Reed (Jonathan Emerson) is working the graveyard shift at a rat-infested textile mill that has recently been reopened. Reed is surrounded by rats, and attempts to drive them away by throwing one rat into a cotton picker. When the rats do not leave, Reed prepares to throw another one into the cotton picker when he is attacked by a large unseen creature (voiced by Frank Welker), which pushes him into the cotton picker where he is torn apart.

Some time later, drifter John Hall (David Andrews) is hired by the sadistic mill foreman, Warwick (Stephen Macht). Warwick has been carrying on numerous affairs with female workers, the latest being Nordello (Ilona Margolis). Warwick has refused to close the mill despite the rat infestation, hiring an eccentric rat exterminator and Vietnam veteran Tucker Cleveland (Brad Dourif) to take care of the rat problem. Cleveland confides in Hall that he is unable to kill all of the rats and the mill should be shut down, explaining that both the sheer number of rats and their intelligence overwhelm him. In the following weeks, Hall is bullied by both his fellow workers Danson (Andrew Divoff), Brogan (Vic Polizos), and Stevenson (Minor Rootes) and Warwick, who holds a special hatred for him. Warwick is informed that the basement must be cleaned up to make way for new offices. Warwick assigns Stevenson to look through the basement before he assigns a crew to clean it out. Stevenson is grabbed by the creature and dragged away.

Hall befriends his fellow worker Jane Wisconsky (Kelly Fox), who sympathizes with him. Warwick replaces Stevenson with new hire Charlie Carmichael (Jimmy Woodward). Warwick assigns Nordello to the cleanup crew, much to her outrage. As revenge, she attacks Warwick’s car with a fire axe. Warwick attacks her, but is stopped by Hall. Warwick assigns Hall, Carmichael, Brogan, Danson, Wisconsky, and Ippeston (Robert Alan Bleuth) to clean the basement. Ippeston is fired by Warwick after he calls Warwick out for forcing the group to kill the rats in the basement. That night, Nordello breaks in to steal documents showing recommendations for the mill’s closure from Warwick. Nordello falls down the stairs into the basement, where the creature devours her. Warwick blackmails Cleveland with his polluting the nearby river with chemicals while hired to investigate the nearby graveyard, believing it to be the nesting place for the rats. Cleveland investigates with his rat hunting dog Moxie, who leads him into a crypt. Cleveland is killed when the creature inadvertently crushes his head with a grave.

Hall discovers a trap door leading to an abandoned part of the mill. Hall believes it to be the nesting ground of the rats. Warwick forces Hall to enter with a fire hose to kill the rats. Hall agrees on the condition he have help in handling the fire hose, and chooses his partner to be Warwick. Wisconsky also volunteers, and Warwick forces the whole group to go. Brogan is startled by a severed arm and attempts to flee up the stairs, only to break the fire hose and fall into a large underground river. The creature enters the pool and drags Brogan underwater. Hall and Wisconsky also fall in, but grab onto a floating coffin to avoid drowning. Warwick, Danson, and Carmichael flee. Carmichael discovers a small cavern and they go into it in the hopes of escaping. Carmichael attempts to break through a small hole to escape, only for his arm to be torn off by the creature. Danson and Warwick abandon him, and Carmichael is killed. Danson refuses to move and Warwick goes to find an escape route. Danson is attacked by the creature, and Warwick rushes to help him only to be too late. Warwick flees, but trips and falls down several stories.

Hall and Wisconsky discover the creature’s lair, a large cavern filed with human bones. Wisconsky discovers Warwick with a severe head wound buried beneath a pile of bones. Now insane, Warwick attacks Hall and Wisconsky, engaging Hall in a brutal battle. Wisconsky attempts to stop him, only to be stabbed by Warwick with a knife. Warwick flees from a vengeful Hall only to discover the creature: a large, bat-like rat. Warwick attacks and injures it, only to be killed and devoured. Seeing this Hall flees and manages to escape into the mill. The creature follows him and attacks him, only for its tail to be caught in the cotton picker. Hall turns on the cotton picker, tearing the creature apart. The final shot shows a sign outside the still open mill, stating the mill is under new management.


  • David Andrews - John Hall
  • Kelly Wolf - Jane Wisconsky
  • Stephen Macht - Warwick
  • Andrew Divoff - Danson
  • Vic Polizos - Brogan
  • Brad Dourif - Tucker Cleveland
  • Robert Alan Beuth - Ippeston
  • Ilona Margolis - Nordello
  • Jimmy Woodard - Charlie Carmichael
  • Jonathan Emerson - Jason Reed
  • Minor Rootes - Stevenson
  • Kelly L. Goodman - Warwick's Secretary
  • Susan Lowden - Daisy May
  • Joe Perham - Mill Inspector
  • Dana Packard - Millworker
  • Frank Welker - Giant Bat


The movie was filmed in the village of Harmony, Maine at Bartlettyarns Inc., the oldest woolen yarn mill in the United States (est. 1821). The historic Bartlett mill was renamed "Bachman" for the movie, an homage to King's pseudonym, Richard Bachman. The interior shots of the antique mill machinery, and the riverside cemetery, were in Harmony. Other scenes (restaurant interior, and giant wool picking machine) were at locations in Bangor, Maine, at an abandoned waterworks and armory. A few other mill scenes were staged near the Eastland woolen mill in Corinna, Maine, which subsequently became a Super Fund site.


The film received poor reviews from critics and currently holds a 13% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]

Graveyard Shift was a modest box office success for Paramount. The film was released October 26, 1990 in the United States, opening in first place that weekend.[4] It grossed a total of $11,582,891 domestically.[5]


  1. ^ "Graveyard Shift". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ a b "Graveyard Shift". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 21, 2015.
  3. ^ "Graveyard Shift". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. ^ "Weekend Box Office October 26-28, 1990". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  5. ^ "Graveyard Shift (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-11-07.

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