It’s been a long while since I posted anything substantial. Well guess what!? Its October so that means film reviews! Twist this time around, all 80s films. Here we go.
October 1st-Sleepaway Camp from 1983 (Director/Writer: Robert Hiltzik, Stars: Felissa Rose, Mike Kellin, Katherine Kamhi and Robert Earl Jones, Runtime: 87 min)
First film out the gate is Sleepaway Camp, one of the most infamous and well known 80s slasher films. I’ve known about this film for a great many years, which means I knew the ending which was what put me off into watching it. However the Faculty of Horror podcast episode on the film and Friday the 13th made me decide to give it a chance.
So shy Angela lost her brother and dad in an accident, years later her aunt sends her and her cousin Ricky to a camp. People start to die obviously. There is the “who done it?” part of the story and leads to the big twist. Some of the kills are imaginative. Specifically the make up and practical effects in the three of the earliest kills. Overall was impressed by most of the killers work. The film had a dramatic score. Performances were not exactly noteworthy but Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten are pretty good in there parts. The direction is competent and never falls into cheesy until maybe the end. The movie has a some sexual and identity politics going on which were done back then to make the film different but have made the movie now a piece of LGBT cinema history. Fascinating facts, last film of stage and film method actor Mike Kellin and also features prominent black actor Robert Eal Jones, father of James Earl Jones.
October 2nd-Critters from 1986 (Director: Stephen Herek, Screenplay: Stephen Herek, Domonic Muir with Additional Material by Don Keith Opper and Story by Dominic Muir, Stars: Dee Wallace, M. Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush and Scott Grimes, Runtime: 85 min)
The cult classic Critters is about alien beastie who arrive on Earth, specifically a small town, and cause trouble. It’s okay. A little needlessly complicated with the alien bounty hunters and the local not who (rightfully) believes in aliens but no one listens to him. Here’s the thing, it’s no a bad film. It mostly looks good, even the brief sci fi stuff comes off okay. Cheesy, sure, but not to detract at all. The critters look good. The performances are strong. You have actors like Dee Wallace and M. Emmet Walsh who can do their job well. It’s just not really that suspenseful and without that much suspense it could have used more gore. Which it barely haves though Billy Zane getting killed was fun. Most of the humor doesn’t land-except for one Critter death which got a chuckle out of me. My friend said the second film is the best in the series so I’ll keep that in mind for some other time.
October 3rd-The Wraith from 1986 (Director/Writer: Mike Marvin, Stars: Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Nick Cassavetes, and Randy Quaid, Runtime: 93 min)
What the hell? Three films in and the 80s haven’t really hooked me up with a new favorite. Anyway, dead teen comes back as a race car wraith to kill a gang of assholes. Neat idea, neat car, neat look, good soundtrack. But most the film revolves around unlikable assholes and is paced rather weirdly. Also, its billed as a horror-action film (Or thriller-action film) and it doesn’t really work as horror or thriller. Overall, did not care. But the car was cool…
October 4th-Superstition from 1982 (Director: James W. Roberson, Writer: Galen Thompson, Stars: James Houghton, Albert Salmi, and Lynn Carlin, Runtime: 85 min)
The quality of these films slipping since the first. As a kid born in the 80s which is a goldmine of horror greats, this hurts my soul. So this is the kind of film where the story gets in the way of a fun, brain dead horror movie. A house haunted by the spirit of a witch leads to many deaths. Half the deaths are actually pretty good. The set up and performances are decent. Everything else is a bore. The deeper they get into the story the more it hurts it. Its like a scary haunted house movie with several deaths you’d see in a silly slasher. One doesn’t quite go with the other. Disappointing too since the first several minutes and the last scene are both top quality in my opinion. Most of the stuff between is forgettable.
October 5th-The Majorettes from 1986 (Director: S. William Hinzman, Writer: John A. Russo, Runtime: 92 min)
Jesus, way to ruin a perfectly serviceable slasher by trying to subvert the genre. You need better performances, directing and story for that. Okay, so a someone is killing majorettes and people close to them. Who is it? Here’s the problem, it takes a detour. Two actually. A useless bit about inheritance money and a gang leader who is a suspect. There’s a literal revenge action short film in this. Worst, it should be lead by a female character instead of the dude. I believe so. It hurts because the first half is actually pretty serviceable. Hard pass.
October 6th-Hell Night from 1981 (Director: Tom DeSimone, Writer: Randy Feldman, Stars: Linda Blair, Runtime: 101 min)
Two men from a fraternity and two ladies from a sorority are dared t stay over night in a haunted house. Its suppose to be a practical joke until people start dying. What about the quality? At least it wasn’t worse then Majorettes. Maybe better than Superstition. Superstition and Majorettes tried to add something to the common plot threads and tropes. Both failed by derailing their film or adding too much. Hell Night mostly plays straight, its failings have nothing to do with trying too much or trying to hard. Its about pacing and the killer. Its pacing falls apart after the first kill. It becomes slow at times, drags when it should ramp up tension and when it tries that suspense is not there. The killer? Dull and the kills are mostly boring. Its a mediocre slasher at heart. Still, at least it knows what it wants to be and I appreciate that.
October 7th-Lady in White from 1988 (Director/Writer: Frank LaLoggia, Stars: Lukas Haas, Len Cariou, Alex Rocco, and Katherine Helmond, Runtime: 112 min)
Good news, not worst then the last three/four movies I’ve seen. Labeled a horror film but more of just a mystery. A story of a young boy named Frankie who encounters a ghost and tries to help her by finding her killer. So the ghost is not the bad guy. Kind of like a Del Toro movie. The performances are mostly fine, locals are good but the effects are pretty lackluster and the score is overdone. There were parts that were predictable. That said, overall, it was a competent enough film. Came and went.
Lady in White
Tie: Superstition, Hell Night