What Mills has brought us here is a slightly kinky version of the old Sell your soul to Satan story, with Dave slowly losing control over the thing in the box (the fact that he might have a conscience helps there). We've seen the story before but not the setpieces. Compared to Mills previous movie Zombie A-hole, Night of the tentacles isn’t as deliriously weird; we know pretty much from the start how this will end. But where Zombie A-holes storytelling was slightly lacking, NOTT shows that Mills writing skills have improved, telling a good story over the course of 90 minutes. This is both good and bad, Zombie A-hole was slightly meandering, focusing a bit too much on identical scenes of twin killing but was still very original in showing its own little world full of voodoo puppet zombies and uh... puppet zombies. NOTT has a good story structure but much less gory weirdness. Still, it has several nice scenes of bloody mayhem which should satisfy the gore hounds. Remember the scene in The Blob remake where a guy is pulled through a sink? Replace the dishwasher with naked chick on toilet. Yes, they went there. The special effects are a mixture of mostly CGI (which are ok) and lovingly cheesy practicals, the boxthingie is hilarious.
The best thing about NOTT is its delicious sense of humor, greatly helped by an able performance by Brandon Salkil who is on the screen the entire movie, chewing scenery as if the director threatened to torture a kitten to death unless he went all out. It is hard not to be engaged by what is going on when Salkil tries his best Bruce Campbell imitation and although the movie could have gained some by toning it down a bit, it still serves the story well. The other actors tend to be a bit uneven but still fun to watch.
I did not like NOTT as much as I loved Zombie A-hole and that is mostly from the fact that it isn’t as insane, it should have focused more on the tentacled Henenlotter-inspired beastie with the British accent and less on Daves strange love affair with the pregnant neighbor (which is both somewhat cringeworthily cute, but means less gore and tits) but it is still a fun watch. It clearly shows that Dustin Mills has some great potential ahead, especially since this was made for $1500, a ridiculously low amount of money - I spend more money on dvds at horror conventions than Mills used to make this! And that is a damn fine title.