Monday, June 21, 2010

80s Horror Movie Marathon Reviews

Elisa’s 80s Horror Movie Marathon Weekend!

Thanks to 80s Horror Movies and Netflix, I had a bit of a marathon this weekend of obscure-ish 80s horror movies. Some were good, some were great. It’s amazing that all of them that I saw were loads better than the majority of the so-called good to half-decent horror movies of today. ALL of these 80s horrors at least had plots and some (if not major) character development, which is more than I can say for the majority of horror films these days, where all they're aiming for is a money shot of either nudity or gore or both. A lot of these 80s films weren’t really “gory” per se, but they still had a lot of fun elements to them and I enjoyed them all.

Here’s what I saw:

The Pit (1981) - Jamie (Sammy Snyders) is a strange kid who doesn’t have any friends, save for his talking sadistic teddy bear and the goblins who live in his backyard. This movie was AWESOMESAUCE! Well-acted (esp. by Snyders in the lead) and really silly and fun. And it was also charming to see my adopted granny in one of the most loved scenes.

Blood Beach (1980) - I’d always heard of this film, but was too young to see it when it was first released. Something is terrorizing the Santa Monica pier and only a young lifeguard and his estranged wife can figure out what it may be. This again, was awesomesauce. Burt Young played this hilarious detective investigating the case and he stole every scene he was in. Again, it had a fantastic plot, and the “monster” aspect almost seemed secondary to everything else going on in the story. Unfortunately, said monster itself was supremely disappointing. This might actually benefit from a remake...if they keep to the same script as the original and just spend a bit more money on the monster design.

Death Valley (1982) - A young boy (Peter Billingsley of A Christmas Story in his first role!) and his mother travel with her new boyfriend to Death Valley in Arizona, where unexplained killings are occurring. The boy finds a piece of evidence that sends the killer after him. OMG, Stephen McHattie? More like Stephen McHottie in this film! He sang! he danced on rooftops! He couponed! He...killed people! Oh yeah, there’s that. But omg, he was totally hot. I was trying to figure out where I recognized him from and discovered he was Elaine’s therapist on Seinfeld! (Remember the “Crazy” Joe Davola arc? Great, great stuff) XD This was more suspenseful than scary, but again, like the others, great plotline and writing. Nice twist at the end, too.

Scream For Help (1984) - A young girl suspects her mother’s new husband of killing people, and goes to extreme lenghts to uncover his possible crimes. This, again, was another wonderful film. Sadly, the young lead, Rachael Kelly, only did this film, one other, and a TV episode. I hope she’s just retired from acting and nothing untoward happened to her. She was really great. Again, this was more suspenseful than gory, but there was a bizarre load of graphic sex scenes and boobs in this one. I have never seen as many natural boobs in horror movies than I did this weekend. :P And I so want this shirt now. XD

God Told Me To (1976) - I took a little breather from my 80s horror movies to watch my Netflix pick. This is another Larry Cohen (It’s Alive! trilogy, The Stuff, Masters of Horror ep. “Pick Me Up”) film and I loved it just as much as everything else I’ve seen of his. How I’ve never really seen much of his work before is beyond me, but I’m rectifying that now. His films always are a little “out there,” but in the best way possible and are always still grounded in (potential) reality, which makes them possible, which is fantastically eerie. He always has some sort of message in his films, too (The Stuff was about rampant consumerism, for example.) GTMT dealt with religion (possibly even Scientology!) and I can’t really say anymore without possibly ruining it. It’s almost better to go into Cohen films not really knowing anything about them, then just let them unfold before you.

The leads were all wonderful and the writing was brilliant. I need Cohen to take a look at my third (unpublished) novel for me and give me some pointers, because we seem to think alike, at least plotwise. And if GTMT couldn’t get any cooler, Andy Kaufman has a cameo in it! Just rent it.

The Rejuvenator (1986) - Think of Re-Animator meets Death Becomes Her and you pretty much have this movie. Slightly silly, but adorable storyline about an aging film star who will do anything to stay young and the scientist who has (almost) perfected a “fountain of youth” serum. The actress becomes his test subject with...interesting results. There are even a few little homages to Re-An in the film. Great, great stuff.

Deadline (1981) - An emotionally heavy film about a horror writer whose life begins to reflect the gruesomeness of his stories. This was more psychological than actually gory, and good lord, it was depressing. Well-written, but not something to watch if you want light or “pick-me-up.” Intense, heavy, and very well-acted, it was filmed (and set!) in my hometown of Toronto. Apparently, the writer’s little daughter was also in Cronenberg’s The Brood, another great film.

The Devil’s Gift (1984) - A young boy receives an antique monkey figure for his birthday, which may be possessed by the spirit of an evil demon. Again, like all the others, a great film – well-acted and well-written. The “bromance” between the boy’s father and the bachelor next door is slash-worthy. Apparently, this movie was remade in 1996 as Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders with a happy ending, but I got to see the original, not-so-pleasant finale, which made a lot more realistic sense. As Stephen King knows, don’t fuck with antique monkey toys, my friends.

So, overall, a fantastic weekend of 80s (and one 70s) horror movie. It’s amazing to think that of all the ones I (very randomly) chose, there wasn’t a stinker in the bunch, but I’m hard-pressed to do that with the majority of today's horror fare. There are loads more of these movies out there, so I shall definitely have another of these weekends and share the results with all of you! :D

Read about Marathon #2 here

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