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The Nesting (1981)
Mostly lame haunted brothel flick
This post-AMITYVILLE HORROR haunted house film directed by porn director Armand Weston occasionally delivers the goods, but is more-often-than-not lame, overpadded and a little cheesy.
Writer Lauren Cochran goes out to the country to try and get past her agoraphobia, but when she moves into a frighteningly familiar octagonal house, she finds that there's things to be afraid of inside as well! First off, I'm rather disappointed that the film didn't make the main character's agoraphobia more of a main plot point. The idea of an agoraphobe renting a haunted house, unable to leave because of crippling panic attacks but unable to stay because of haunting specters, would make for a pretty claustrophobic watch. Instead, Weston's script takes the plot in many different directions, implementing slasher elements, prostitute ghosts and a CHANGELING-like mystery unraveling.
Sometimes, it works; there are some actually pretty spooky scenes here and there, and the mystery moves deftly enough to keep you involved. There are also some really fun set-pieces involving sickles and high-rise rescues.
Unfortunately, the over-the-top acting and dialogue from most of the supporting characters ruins any atmosphere the film could've created (the writer's quippy boyfriend had me about ready to turn off the film 20 minutes in). The unraveling of the mystery reaches a silly, melodramatic conclusion. And I often found the sound design to be distractingly amateurish, a gripe I do not have very often. Overall, you could do a lot worse with '80s haunted-house flicks (HOUSE WHERE EVIL DWELLS, any AMITYVILLE film), but you could also do better (CHANGELING, SILENT SCREAM).
Fun fact: The octagonal house where the film was shot is still standing in New York state and may be the only domed octagonal residence still in existence in the United States!
Mad Mutilator (1983)
Decently fun trip through a bizarro world
Only for the most well-versed of cinemasochists, MAD MUTILATOR (a.k.a. OGROFF) is one of the unique Z-grade chillers of the 1980s that is inept enough to transcend the barriers of this world and exist in a reality completely its own.
Almost completely silent, MAD MUTILATOR doesn't have a plot, per se. There's a forest. There's a killer in the forest. Random people without names happen to find themselves in the forest and then get killed. But plot isn't the point here. The point is the almost-psychedelic atmosphere of a film possessing no talent, an atmosphere that seems not to be part of the world as we know it.
No, MAD MUTILATOR isn't set on Earth, it's set in an alternate universe only tangentially like Earth. A universe where people do not act like normal human beings. One where instead of helping screaming women, civilians in cars get out, curse at them in French and keep driving. Minimal synthesizer music showers the fields like rain, and potential victims of Ogroff are just as likely to consensually sleep with him as be killed by him. It is an existence outside our own, one where sense is not taken into account.
It is delightfully bizarre, but is often a bit of a drag. For every axe/chainsaw fencing match, there is a 5-minute scene of an old scrap car being destroyed. The film decides at the one-hour mark that it is now a zombie flick, and everything after that is wasted celluloid (except for the truly out-of-the-blue ending). Probably worth a watch if you're into movies like BOARDINGHOUSE or THINGS, but it won't mess with your sanity nearly as much as those two films will.
Chilling atmosphere, not much else
A slow-burn (or should I say slow-freeze) chiller set deep in the snowy mountains of Canada, GHOSTKEEPER is effective at creating an atmosphere and not very effective at doing anything with it.
Three friends snowmobiling around the middle of nowhere for New Year's Eve soon find themselves stranded at a strange hotel, abandoned except for a mysterious old woman who seems to be keeping something from them. It sounds like a solid set-up for a generic '80s slasher, and I've seen the film often categorized as such, but I'd hesitate to call it one.
It's certainly not a "teens in the woods get picked off one by one by a madman" movie. It's instead a "slow descent into madness" type of movie; imagine if THE SHINING had a no-name Canadian cast and wasn't really very good.
That being said, icicles of atmosphere hang all over this thing. I always felt Paul Zaza to be an underrated player in the composer game, and his score here is wonderful. Understated and mysterious, GHOSTKEEPER would be practically nothing without it. It's also decently well-shot and the locations are beautiful.
A solid build-up unfortunately melts away in the second half. Characters who acted very similarly the entire film suddenly act completely different. Other characters show up randomly just to be immediately slaughtered. Everything feels very scattershot and aimless.
I feel like the film is very close to becoming a spot-on representation of a certain kind of Wendigo myth: a Wendigo that does not hunt as a beast, but instead rattles the aching, snow-addled minds around it into a cabin fever psychosis. Unfortunately, GHOSTKEEPER just doesn't quite get it right. Worth a look for fans of atmospheric horror, but by no means a must-see.
Rocktober Blood (1984)
Rocks hard, but sucks worse
ROCKTOBER BLOOD, one of the myriad of glam metal horror flicks from the mid-to-late-'80s (BLACK ROSES, ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE, HARD ROCK ZOMBIES, etc.), is possibly the worst out of all of them. It's a D-level slasher with only one saving grace: the rockin' soundtrack.
Basically, the set-up is the singer of a hair metal group goes nuts and kills some people (only two on-screen, but later on, they say 25??). He gets sent to the electric chair, and the singer's ex-girlfriend starts the band back up again. Only trouble is, the '80s-handsome singer is still out to get her... even though he's dead! The acting is painfully bad, especially the mumbling, uncharismatic killer character. 45 minutes in the middle consist only of a woman swearing Billy "Eye" is back from the dead and people telling her she's crazy. No other characters do anything the entire film, and the body count is surprisingly low. The first 70 minutes are honestly really hard to get through.
If you make it to the end, you're treated with a killer performance scene by Sorcery (better known for STUNT ROCK), some fun kills and some catchy hair metal tunes. But ten good minutes out of ninety is not enough, and I would recommend all but the biggest '80s metal/horror fans give this one a hard pass. Check out TRICK OR TREAT or ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE to see this sub-genre done right.
Well-shot supernatural slasher with a humdrum plot
CASSANDRA, one of the last films by LONG WEEKEND helmer Colin Eggleston, is a supernatural slasher about a young woman (helpfully named Cassandra) who is being plagued by terrifying nightmares of a woman shooting herself and a scary little boy. Her parents are both being rather unhelpful about the problem, but when people in town start getting sliced and diced, it's revealed they've been keeping a lot from young Cassandra...
The film starts promising with a creepy, visually arresting dream sequence, and it's obvious that Mr. Eggleston knows what he's doing in the director's chair. When it wants to be, CASSANDRA is atmospheric and good-looking.
Unfortunately, it's relentlessly over-padded with snoozy scenes of photography shoots and marital drama, then spoiled by predictable plot happenings (I hesitate to even call them twists, due to how obvious they are). By the end, the film has become a ho-hum late-80s slasher, and not a fun one to watch either.
Not easy to recommend to anyone outside of Ozploitation and slasher completists. It's really not too bad, but you've seen it all before many a time and it's definitely not worth tracking down a VHS copy. Just watch LONG WEEKEND again instead.
Halloween Night (1988)
Cheesy, fun Halloween slasher, but no holiday classic
Jag Mundhra's second stab at the slasher film (after 1987's snooze OPEN HOUSE) isn't an '80s Halloween-season classic like TRICK OR TREAT or NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, but schlocky horror fans will probably have a good time with it.
Hy Pyke (what a name!) is delightfully over-the-top as the grandfather (who is described as 'kindly' in the IMDb summary, but you're never given the impression he's anything but a scumbag) hell-bent on getting his eldest grandson to devote himself to his Satanic cult, a lame-o group that flash gang signs to each other and wear flannels under their devil robes. Meanwhile, someone in the cult is randomly killing people, and it's up to the other grandson, a boyishly handsome cop, to figure out what the hell is going on.
It's gorier than a lot of the slashers from this time period (though the body count is low), and just about every female cast member gets naked at some point (except, bafflingly, the most attractive one). Most of the leads have fun with their silly roles. It feels super padded, even at 90 minutes, what with random five-minute glam metal dream sequences and a head-scratching, unfunny stand-up comedy routine that grinds all the Satanic action to a halt.
Watchable for sure, whether or not it's worth watching could go either way. Don't spend too long tracking it down, but you could watch way worse.
Night Vision (1987)
A SOV oddity that aims higher than you think it would
Stumbled upon this on On Demand, and was intrigued: NIGHT VISION is an '80s horror I'd never even heard of (which means it's REAL obscure) and it was shot and set in Colorado, where I've lived all my life. So, obviously, I watched it, and was slightly impressed and more-than-slightly dumbfounded.
It's about a shy, whiny writer from Kansas that moves to the seedy underbelly of Denver to get story ideas. He makes friends with a criminal-type named Vinny, who soon gifts him a VCR that once belonged to a scary cult. The VCR leaves Mr. Kansas able to write scary, violent short stories that end up coming true. Oh, and he works at a video store for some reason.
So, to clarify, many of you looking at '80s C-horror movies on IMDb may be looking for so-bad-it's-funny material, and NIGHT VISION really won't be your cup of tea. There's sporadic laughs, but it's actually very slow-moving, nothing much really happens, it completely shies away from gore and nudity, and it's not really even a horror movie. Perhaps the funniest thing about the film is its portrayal of Denver as the seediest, most crime-ridden city in the world, one that is seemingly physically impossible NOT to get robbed, stalked or killed while walking its streets. Even as a current resident that knows this is far from the truth, NIGHT VISION made me want to get the hell out of this black hole of a city.
But no, this is not Bad Movie Night material. Instead, it's a slow-burn oddity that aims more to be a Cronenberg or Lynch-style psychological thriller than a gory cheesefest. It never completely hits the mark, but it does manage to sustain a weird, slightly unsettling atmosphere (mostly due to its home-movie qualities) and is compulsively watchable. Almost nothing happened in its 100-minute running time, but I still found myself intrigued by NIGHT VISION from start to finish.
I'm not sure whether to call the main actor horrible or great; he's whiny and annoying the entire time, but you do get an air of sociopathy about him. One reviewer here compares him in looks to David Byrne, but I got more of an Ian Curtis vibe. He's really not good at all, but he adds to the odd atmosphere of the film. But the ending is really effective, muddling the plot-line even more than it previously was and leaving the film completely without answers. It worked surprisingly well.
I can't really recommend NIGHT VISION to most people and it's certainly not an unjustly forgotten classic, but viewers in the mood for something off the beaten path and zero-budget might find something to like here.
A fun, mildly creepy children's flick good for B-movie lovers
Alright, take a look at that box art. We've got a creepy puppet in a leather jacket riding a pizza above the heads of a guy with a sexual predator mustache and a kid desperately attempting and failing to be Macaulay Culkin. How awesome you find that box art will probably directly correlate to how much you'll like MUNCHIE.
Which is to say MUNCHIE is not a very well-made movie, but it is quite entertaining when watched in the right state of mind (alcoholic beverages may help!). The acting is wooden across the board, the Munchie puppet looks like a dated, cheap children's toy that nobody bought because it was creepier than a Furby, and it's got a generic mom's-new-boyfriend character that rocks hideous '90s track-jackets. Everything feels slightly porn-y for a children's flick as well; there's much cleavage on display and one scene involving the school principal and his secretary feels distinctly softcore (tell me that actress isn't straight outta porn!). This is probably due to the director's seat being occupied by Jim Wynorski, a filmmaker much more at home directing exploitation and softcore flicks than children's movies.
It all comes off as a low-rent creepy E.T. (not, like, BADI-level creepy but certainly not cute), sans the emotional depth and filmmaking skill. Bad movie fans will have some fun with it, and little kids might too, I guess (they might need some kid beer though). Look for a preteen Jennifer Love Hewitt in her feature film debut, though she's not given anything to do but smile and look cute.
P.S. For those of you who greatly enjoyed 1987's MUNCHIES (anyone? anyone?) and are looking for a sequel, this is completely unrelated despite the trailer's claims. There is, however, a sequel to this one: 1994's MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK.
Revenge of Mr. Willie (1999)
Mr. Willie's revenge is, unfortunately, a little flaccid
So if you've somehow ended up on REVENGE OF MR. WILLIE's IMDb page, I'll go ahead and assume you're a little weird and find the idea of a movie about a killer wang incredibly amusing and entertaining. I'm glad I'm not the only one. Unfortunately, MR. WILLIE didn't leave me completely satisfied, though I did still have a fun time with it.
Basically, this guy is screwing practically every chick in town, but while messing around with one of his main squeezes, he has a heart attack and dies. Then a couple of his lovers accidentally chop off his tootsie roll and the dismembered member comes back to wreak havoc on females everywhere (or, rather, in the film's three shooting locations). Sounds fun, right? But the problem is MR. WILLIE is just too soft. While the premise promises plenty of humorous phallic deaths, the schlong here doesn't do much other than fly around and be a general nuisance. All the characters are convinced the flying dong is a threat to their well-being, but in the end, MR. WILLIE comes up short and doesn't get a whole lot of action. Also, unlike real-life wieners, MR. WILLIE simply lasts too long; the film's over 100 minutes long and it starts to get painful by the end.
That's not to say MR. WILLIE is a complete waste of your time. There's still some good laughs to be had, and some drinks can make it a little more tolerable. I definitely had a few chuckles and had an enjoyable time with the ridiculous plot elements, the awful acting and the fun nods to past horror films (a reference to THE FLY is particularly great). So while MR. WILLIE won't leave you screaming with joy, you shouldn't be completely disappointed with your decision the morning after.
The Outing (1987)
A minor 80s cheese classic here, folks.
The mostly 'ho-hum' reviews here have me a little confused. Anybody looking for a cheesy-as-all-get-out 80s horror flick should scoop up THE OUTING without a second thought.
We start with a bunch of white trash people with white trash names like Harley robbing this old lady. She's apparently absurdly rich, but the main thing they find is an ancient lamp (from Irag!). Obviously, the lamp has a genie in it, Harley unwittingly unleashes its angry power, and it kills him and his friends. The lamp is given to a local museum, where its dark powers are re-awakened by a stupid teenager. Add a group of stupid teenager's friends staying the night in the museum for a little bit of foolin' around, and we've got ourselves a great slasher set-up! Not only do we have a handful of great deaths here (we've got snake baths, death by ceiling fan and mummy zombies!), there's also a great deal of 80's absurdity. We've got a high school class that teaches its students about Vlad the Impaler and genies, security guards that sing opera instead of doing anything, and potentially the most d-baggy out of all '80s d-bags (they get in butterfly knife fights and are attempted rapists!).
It's all just fantastic, and is fun from start to finish. The ending is a little head-scratching: the genie makes its first true appearance, finally grants the main character's "wish" she made a few days before, and then presents itself as unstoppable. But there's some Iraqi-speak on the lamp, and after a truly heart-poundingly suspenseful (kidding) scene with a computer translating the characters, it's revealed that the main girl has to (wait for it) destroy the lamp to kill the genie. Isn't that, like, the first thing you would try? Don't think I would've needed a translator to tell me that.
So to wrap up, the whole thing's a lotta fun and I don't see any fan of 80s cheese having a bad time with THE OUTING.