ONE-WORD-TITLE 80'S HORROR PICS [EXCEPT FOR THE FOURTH ONE, SORRY!], SINGLE-PARAGRAPH-REVIEWED(*) SEXTUPLETS!(*) [Bracketed notes aren't considered part of a paragraph, according to I'M-MAKING-THIS-UP-AS-I-GO-LOGIC-SPLOITATING! :-D]Ovidio G. Assonitis' MADHOUSE (1981, TUBI) for the first time. Also available on YouTube.Wow, it finally happened! Thanks to this Patrick Bromley Junesploitation! review I've experienced an 80's Italian horror movie that looks/feels/comes across as non-Italian! It helps that it was shot in America (Georgia) with English-speaking actors, but that's happened before and they still came across as foreign-made ("The Beyond," "Nightmare Beach," etc.). Who knew a hack like Assonitis ("Piranha II: The Spawning") had it in him to turn out a seemingly predictable premise (adult twin sisters separated at a young age come together for their adult birthdate) into a messed-up slasher with psychological undertones. Riz Ortolani's music score is decent, having a mean dog as a slasher weapon is inspired (especially when kids are the victims) and the pace alright for an NC-17 rated horror flick from '81. Now if we could do something about Maria's Party City-caliber face make-up. 3.5 MEN IN JULIA'S LIFE MANSPLAINING THINGS (out of 5).
Lamberto Bava's DEMONS (1985, DVD). TWO VERSIONS ON YOU TUBE: English audio with Spanish subtitles but compressed picture quality or Dutch Language and no Eng. subtitles, but razor-sharp HD transfer. Believe me, not understanding dialogue isn't a barrier to enjoying "Demons." :-DTalk about an Italian all-star filmmaking crew: Lamberto Bava ("Macabro") directing, Dario Argento ("Suspiria") producing, both co-screenwriting alongside Dardano Sacchetti ("Zombie") and Franco Ferrini ("Once Upon A Time in America"), Michele Soavi ("Cemetery Man") in the crew, Goblin's Claudio Simonetti ("Suspiria") scoring and/or needle-dropping his favorite 80's rock tunes from the likes of Mötley Crüe and Billy Idol, special effects by Sergio Stivaletti ("Opera"), etc. Their collaboration yields an entertainingly bloody, huge body count, crowd-pleasing horror high concept (civilians trapped in a movie theater-as-haunted-house enclosed location fighting demonic creatures with improvised weapons) that keeps topping itself until its gut-punch-in-a-good-way ending (stay through the credits). It's like "Resident Evil" and "Alone in the Dark" combined in movie form before they became videogames, only permanently stuck in mid-80's MTV fashions. Even Joel Silver's cocaine makes an unexpected cameo laced over some punk chick's areola. :-D Shame Bobby Rhodes, the only actor who stands out from the pack (and returned in the not-as-good sequel in a different role), doesn't live up to his blaxploitation-worthy full potential. Like its soundtrack, "Demons" kicks ass from start to finish. 4.25 CHEKHOV'S MOTORCYCLE/KATANA COMBO SLICERS (out of 5).
Christopher Lewis' REVENGE (1986, CON-TV) for the first time. Also streaming on YouTube (inferior quality than the CON-TV transfer).One of the few shot-on-video horror directors that transitioned to making actual movies (made-for-TV and/or not that memorable, but real movies!) was the auteur of 1985's "Blood Cult" (which I'm not reviewing today because... read the category! :-P) and this sequel. Taking place two months after the end of "BC" (a lengthy prologue links both features/narratives), "Revenge" brings in Patrick 'My father's the Duke' Wayne as the brother of the protagonist of the prequel. He teams with a widow whose husband was recently murdered because the town elders and men of privilege (including John Carradine as a U.S. Senator with skin in the deadly game) crave the widow's farm to perform a specific type of ceremony. Typical DTV staples follow (B-roll footage lasting forever, crude home-made effects, across-the-board terrible acting except for Wayne and Carradine, etc.), but occasionally Lewis throws a remarkable-for-the-genre curveball (death by levitation and not-so-spontaneous combustion from within). Alas, it gets bogged down and confusing as it reaches a 'blah' ending that made me wish I'd slept through the whole thing. For patient, hardcore DTV fans only. 2 NOSEY OKLAHOMA NEWSPAPER REPORTERS (out of 5).
Wes Craven's DEADLY FRIEND (1986, DVD) "for the first time."(*)I don't know what's more entertaining to watch (in 80's Horror! Day or any day): Wes Craven's firing on all cylinders while delivering top-notch horror entertainment (the first "NOES" or "Scream"), or Wes Craven misfiring completely while creating such a spectacular shit show it becomes entertaining ("My Soul To Take," something else coming up in a minute or two! ;-)). Written by Bruce Joel Rubin ("Ghost") and tonally inconsistent from start to finish, "Deadly Friend" is to James Whale's "Bride of Frankenstein" what many 80's flicks were to the 1950's: a love letter with a capital 'B' (for 'FUCKING BONKERS!'). Even by 80's standards the abusive father (Richard Marcus) and town bully (Andrew Roperto) are too much, especially when the "Doogie Howser M.D." music and genteel love story between kid genius Paul (Matthew Labyorteaux) and punching-bag-as-cute-neighbor Sam (Kristy Swanson) give way to either fucked-up imagery (daddy bleeding all over Sam's bed with her in it) or a killing rampage. It's fascinating and entertaining to watch with friends (the basketball scene is a guaranteed crowd pleaser), but coming in-between Freddy Krueger's 80's sequel heyday this feels like Wes slumming for his Warner Bros. paycheck. 3 TOE-MOVING, BRAIN-EXPOSED CORPSES (out of 5).(*) [I've seen "DF" before, but remembered it completely wrong. I thought Sam was revived for a while with the BB circuit board, but then Paul had to put Sam's consciousness inside a new BB robot because her body rejected the circuit board. That only happens during the obligatory 'shock' ending, so technically this felt like a 'new to me all over again' first-time viewing. Go figure!] :-)
Kevin Tenney's WITCHBOARD (1986, IMDB TV) for the first time. Also streaming with ads on TUBI, PLUTO, etc..Never seen a "Witchboard" movie before but I've seen "Night of the Demons," so I'm familiar with Kevin Tenney's style: just campy-enough to be funny (Kathleen Wilhoite's L.A. medium Zarabeth), but also creepy and serious-enough for some moments (former best friends using a Ouija during daylight in a pier) to stand out. I know I must have seen Tawny Kitaen on something, but "Witchboard" is the first horror flick I've seen aware of who she is, and WOW! Talk about a sexy 80's woman that projects vulnerability and/or confidence depending on whether the spirit from the Ouija board is talking through her and/or mistreating that fiery red hair. Despite being played by 'meh' actors I enjoyed the on/off friendship between superstitious preppy Brandon (Stephen Nichols) and working- man-concealing-secrets Jim (Todd Allen). You'd go nuts too if you were dating Twany Kitaen and she left you for your best friend. A typical 80's horror flick: fast, flashy and flimsy fun. 3 DIAMOND RINGS IN THE BATHROOM DRAIN (out of 5).
Witchboard was a watch last Scary Movie Month, and it was one of the bigger surprises for me. Tawny Kitaen is not asked to do much in the film, but she was convincing in the limitations of the role.
Wes Craven's SHOCKER (1989, HBO Max) "for the first time."Another Wes Craven flick that I know I've seen but all the details are jumbled in my memory, so it felt like a first-time viewing. And holy mother of all fucks, what a rush! Glad that Michael Murphy got top billing, nice to see Ted Raimi and "Law & Order's" Richard Brooks (!) getting work, but this is The Peter Berg vs. Mitch Pileggi Hour of Power! Berg is basically a start-to-finish final girl that kicks as much ass as his gets kicked (even "Zelig"-style across multiple color/B&W television channels) by Fox Mulder's favorite beautiful FBI bald man. :-P Both actors shout, run and emote like they were snorting cocaine from their script pages in-between takes, which I'm sure came in handy when Berg became a director. The same way Assonitis' "Madhouse" felt more American than Italian, this attempt by Wes C. and Universal to create a new Freddy Krueger-patterned horror franchise sometimes borders on the lunacy of an Argento or Fulci Italian horror flick. That's a complement, because "Shocker" appears to be making shit up on the fly (Camille Cooper's dead spirit comes and goes, giving powers to her boyfriend when convenient) when we know Wes planned every detail meticulously. And "Shocker" was released theatrically in Ultra-Stereo? 'You got it, baby!' :-D I can't wait to rewatch this with fan commentaries and stuff, one of the most fun Junesploitation! experiences of 2021. 4 ALL-JOHN TESH-ALL-THE-TIME NEWS CHANNEL REPORTS (out of 5).
Deadly Friend (1986, dir. Wes Craven)Of course I had to watch this since it's Cravin' Craven's next episode (I think?).Paul is a teenaged computer genius with a cute robot friend called BB and a potential girlfriend living next door (Kristy Swanson in her first major film role). When the robot is destroyed and the girl's abusive father kills her, Paul takes those lemons and makes lemonade, installing a microchip from the robot in the girl's brain to bring her back to life. But the robot girl has some problems adjusting to her/its new life...It has its moments but overall it's a weird mess with its tone all over the place. From what little I read, seems like Craven was going for more of a sci-fi thriller, but the producers made him add in a lot more gore and one of the stupidest endings ever. The end credits track mixing the robot's "speech" (voiced by Charles "Roger Rabbit" Fleischer) is glorious.The Finnish title translates as Terror Lives Next Door.
Yay, we matched! Great minds do think alike. :-D
Oh - I haven't thought of watching a Craven to be informed for the next episode. Good idea! Maybe I'll use the last free space for that.
I haven't seen most of the movies, but have really been enjoying the Cravin' Craven series. Patrick and Heather both have a contagious love of horror movies.
Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)Protagonist hallucinates being in a better movie.(Never too early for seven word reviews)
My choice for the day as well. Writer/Director Deborah Brock seemed to be making fun of slashers here. My interpretation of the film is in line with your review. There was quite a bit of laughter from me watching this. The killer is one of the most humorous parts. Freddy Krueger was just starting to become a comedian in 1987, and the later NOES films are not too far off from the tone of this. They were just better shot than SPM II.
Yeah, there's some fun effects work and the killer gets some entertaining moments in the last 15 or so minutes of the movie.
LOVE the "seven word review" angle
Re-Animator (1985 - Stuart Gordon)First time watch for me - gallons of fun. The story is good enough for this kind of movie, the cast is great, the effects still hold up, the music is fun (though JB pointed out in his column three years ago, it might be too close to Psycho - and while I agree, it's a rip-off, I have to say, since Psycho probably had some of the best music ever, it's a good addition to this film). All in all - great!
Hands down a top 10 horror-comedy-cult-splatterfest. sooooooo good. Jeffery Combs is amazing.
The Burning (1981, dir. Tony Maylam)Kids at a summer camp pull a prank on the camp's caretaker, which goes wrong and leaves him badly burned. Several years later, the caretaker returns to prey on camp kids on a canoe trip.My enjoyment was mainly from spotting familiar faces: Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander as the camp clown, Fisher Stevens, and JCVD's love interest from Bloodsport. And for a minute I thought one of the counselors was Jamie Bamber (BSG's Apollo), but the timeline doesn't exactly work: Bamber was 8 when this was made. Dudes look exactly alike though.The Finnish title translates as Flames of Vengeance.
Invitation to Hell (1984)Turns out that a made-for-TV movie directed by Wes Craven, starring Robert Urich, and featuring a plot with strong Bentley Little vibes redlines my Extremely-My-Shit-ometer. This may not be a particularly good movie (and to be fair, it’s not), but I loved every second of it. Urich and his family move to a new town where he’s taken a corporate job and they’re practically guaranteed the good life…if they’re willing to join the mysterious Steaming Springs Country Club. It’s basically The Stepford Yuppies.I’m already inclined to love Urich (Spenser!) but he’s supported by a top-notch cast featuring Joanna Cassidy, Joe Regalbuto, Kevin McCarthy, Patty McCormack, and Susan Fucking Lucci (who appears to be having a blast playing the satanic villain). Even the kids are Barret Oliver (Bastian!) and Soleil Moon Frye (Punky!) and there’s cameos by Michael Berryman and Nicholas Worth so I was smiling ear-to-ear pretty much the whole time. Very glad I finally caught up with this one.
this sounds fun! I like the "redlining my extremely my shit o meter" lol
MUTANT WAR (1988) It’s a post-apocalypse where the Earth is overrun by evil mutants, and one cool guy with a trench coat and a laser gun fights back. OK, this turned out to be a Terminator ripoff and not horror, but it was so much fun I don’t care. The giant mutants are the most adorable stop-motion monsters I’ve seen in a long time. (I want the toys!) Then there’s our hero’s car, which has the words “Big Bird” painted on it, a Barbie doll hood ornament, and cartoon eyeballs painted over the headlights. (I want this toy, too!) The movie slows down a little when more humans are introduced, but it’s still the cheesiest of cheesy B-movie fun.30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 36 JIANG ZIYA (2020) An immortal warrior is tasked by the gods to hunt down and kill an evil fox spirit, only to discover not all is as it appears. The animation might be a little too video game-y for some viewers, but the big set pieces and even some character moments had some real visual razzle-dazzle that made it worth it. Turns out this story comes from the same novel-based-on-folklore as the two Nezha movies, so I guess I should read that book now.
D'oh, I meant 26 not 36. Though it might feel like 36, he said jokingly/not jokingly.
Pieces (1982)Directed by Juan Piquer SimónWatched a nice print of this on Shudder.Close to the beginning of the movie a coed says “The greatest thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed!” I guess the script wanted to counter this idea by having a really blurred-lines sex-kill on a waterbed. This movie is fucking nuts. I need a ringtone of Linda Day George screaming “Bastaaaaaaard!” over and over again. Somehow incompetence, serendipity, cocaine, and weird directorial flourishes all combine to bring you this craziness. It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s glorious in it’s unhinged simultaneous badness/greatness.
HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE (1980 dir. Armand Mastroianni) "Extreme Haunts" got nothin' on early 80s family haunted house rides. Decent slasher, decent suspense through. shows you the killer, or does it? I'm actually asking. Because I don't know. This movie confused me. I feel silly.
My Bloody Valentine (1981, Dir. George Mihalka)Friday the 13th in a Coal Mine. Some truly effective gross out kills and a caste of young actors that play really well against each other.Don Francks as the Sheriff who has to save the entire town single-handedly is the stand out role. The choice of location (an honest-to-goodness mining town in Nova Scotia) makes the setting work so well. Mines already look like hellish death traps.I think a case could be made that this film belongs in the pantheon of 80s horror.
House of the Long Shadows (1983, dir. Pete Walker)A fine horror-comedy set in a gothic mansion, but what sets it apart is the combo of Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. It's quite thrilling to see the three of them share the screen, and see who can turn in the most slyly comedic performance (Vincent Price wins). Recommended if you're a fan of those horror legends.
SPELLBINDER (1988; dir. Janet Greek) WHOA. This movie rules. Kelly Preston is an entire definition of screen presence in this. It DOES play more like what would become known as a 90s thriller in the oncoming decade, but its got all the horror tropes. Scary cults, witches and it pulls NO punches. Love it! Blu Ray from Kino Lorber
The Horror Show (1989) aka House 3: The Horror ShowDirectors James IsaacThere were some good make up and practical effects in this, thats my positives. Its on tubi
The New York Ripper (1982) Dir. Lucio FulciHow to Get Away with Moider.
Genius. I'm talking about the movie, AND your review.
The Evil Dead (1981)It had been a really long time since I've watched this one, I kinda had forgotten just how different the tone is from what came after. Still amazed by what they pulled off.
Midnight (1989)Midnight (Lynn Redgrave) is a horror hostess who wears low-cut outfits, makes bad puns before the movies she shows and looks like an undead mistress of, well, the night. Pretty much exactly like Elvira, which seems weird, because they could have just hired Elvira to be in this movie.She’s fighting station owner Mr. B (Tony Curtis) for the rights to her name, who keeps throwing things in her way to screw up her life, like trying to lure away her boytoy Mickey Modine (Steve Parrish, Scanners III) by introducing him to Missy Angel (Karen Witter, Playboy Playmate of the Month March 1982, as well as Mortuary Academy and Popcorn).Then, everyone around our protagonist — like her agent(Frank Gorshin) — starts getting murdered and all fingers point to Midnight.This was written and directed by Norman Thaddeus Vane, who wrote and directed Frightmare. Before that, he was a contributing writer for Penthouse, working on the letter to Forum.I really need to make a Letterboxd list of Wolfman Jack movies one of these days. He’s in this for a bit and is a welcome addition to the proceedings.According to Stephen Thrower’s Nightmare U.S.A., this movie was a complete nightmare behind the scenes. Karen Black was originally going to play Midnight — I am so into that casting choice — with George Segal playing opposite her. Yet when she quit the film and Redgrave came on, Segal refused to be in the movie due to “agent conflicts.” As for Ms. Redgrave. she locked herself in her trailer and wouldn’t do any ADR after the film wrapped. Then Sont cut ten minutes and barely released it in theaters.You know what? She’s awesome in this movie, acting like she’s playing for people in space, not just the back row of the theater. It’s a role that literally defines over the top. That said, she’s still no Cassandra Peterson
SILENT MADNESS (1984, dir. Simon Nuchtern)I don’t know how they managed to make a 3D ‘80s slasher so damn boring but WOW they sure pulled it off.
Return of the Living Dead (1985) Dir. Dan O'BannonA manic masterpiece with an unfathomably great performance by James Karen. I love it.
Of Unknown Origin (1983)I could not have been more entertained
The Howling (1981) - Love Gremlins and Matinee, but this is my first time checking this out. Really enjoyed it. The start of the film feels like the middle of a 70s crime drama and by the end we're in full-on 80s creature feature. Loved the werewolf transformation (my only frame of reference for 80s werewolves is Teen Wolf). Will be wrapping up with the other blindspot - An American Werewolf in London (though I somehow managed to see "...in Paris" on opening day along with Jackie Brown).
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An American Werewolf in London (1981) - Very different from The Howling. I liked both, but I would say The Howling is more interesting and this one more entertaining.
The Monster Squad(1987) Dir: Fred DekkerStill a blast. Some harsh "product of its time" language in the beginning that was a bit jarring but other than that its still an enjoyable and extremely likable film. Its on PrimeCutting Class(1989)Dir: Rospo PallenbergThe mystery was pretty good and had some great swerves. The men in the film are all a bit creepy and extreme misogynists so it really kept me guessing. Theres one guy in the movie that I know you'll recognize as soon as you see him. and I got to say for an early role he really nails it. Totally crazy too see such a star so young. I mean who knew Donovan Leitch was in this?its on Showtime
An American Werewolf in London (1981)As a kid, I saw Michael Jackson's epic Thriller video countless times (I owned it on a VHS, including an extensive making-of documentary which was even better than the video itself), but never the movie that landed John Landis that gig in the first place. Unsurprisingly, I really liked it. The comedy horror tone worked really well for me, with Landis consistently keeping the finely tuned balance of funny and ominous until the very final minutes (the conversation with the undead at the adult movie theatre is a particular highlight, and it takes place minutes before the end). I liked the very patient mood building, the brilliantly on-the-nose needle drops, and the way London was used as a location (especially the Tube sequence and the climactic bloody mayhem in Picadilly Circus). But the main attraction is of course the gore make-up and monster special effects by Rick Baker, groundbreaking then and still somewhat impressive 40 years later. Certainly didn't age half as badly as the congratulations note on Princess Diana and Prince Charles' wedding that's included in the end credits. Yeesh.
Friday the 13th part 3I admit I'm starting to feel a little burnt out from so many movies. I just want to watch Star Trek Voyager.
I know that feeling. :D I'm so impressed by people like J.M. Vargas, who watch like 4 movies a day... OoBut I'll give us a month, and we are full of joy and anticipation for Scary Movie Month. :D
One simple word, Derk: DENTURES! 😉🥵
Junesploitation is undoubtedly a marathon. I have not watched more than three in a day since the first week. Choosing films that I feel I need to get to (ones I bought a while ago or recorded on the DVR back in 2020 or earlier) has kept me motivated. I understand the fatigue very well. Only three more days to go.