#1192 Halloween 2019: Author! Author! (1982)

Al Pacino’s winning streak that started in the 70s continued to the early 80s.

Author! Author! is Pacino’s lesser known work between Cruising and Scarface, but turned out to be a positive surprise. It’s a drama of a playwright going through a divorce process, but there are no manipulative tearjerker elements here – nobody gets sick or dies – and the movie draws its strength from everyday elements of a broken family trying to get from a day to another.

What seemed on a superficial level yet another pretentious early 80s romantic comedy with forced dramatic elements turned out to be one of the most moving depictions of changing modern family dynamics.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 72%

#1191 Halloween 2019: The Thing (1982)

This year’s Halloween will wrap up with this review, and what a feature it has been: we’ve watched together a whopping record number of 41 horror movies! There’s not immediate fear for running out of things to watch, plenty more still out there.

I do miss getting back to the genre classics every now and then, so I wrapped up this year’s feature with Carpenter’s The Thing. This won’t be a full review as almost everything worth saying about the movie is already out there. I can just tell that this arctic survival horror is the best horror movie of the era, until proven otherwise. Its setting is perfect, cast lead by Kurt Russell flawless, effects work both years ahead of its time, but done with such perfect vision that they blend in to the story effortlessly and the story itself – Bill Lancaster’s screenwriting on the classic John W. Campbell Jr’s novella Who Goes There? concentrates on the just the right aspects of the story, while adds layers upon layers of tension and paranoia.

The Thing is an almost perfect horror movie that has aged tremendously well and gained fans in multiple generations up to date – and will probably keep on doing so as long as we keep on celebrating Halloween with classic films.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 98%

#1192 Halloween 2019: Black Roses (1988)

Heavy Metal and rock bands – much like horror movies – were heavily targeted by committees of concerned parents during the 80s, sometimes taking excessive forms with artists having to give testimonies in congressional hearings and even getting sued for hiding subliminal messages in their music.

Against this background Black Roses is a delight to watch: here a metal band arrives to a two horse town to play a gig, much to the excitement of the teens – and dismay of the parents. And ominous things start to take place, naturally.

With such a great setup there was no need for Black Roses to put in any excessive effects or rubbery creatures. Unfortunately they did, and these moments feel like a horrible faux pas in otherwise basically solid movie.

If you can overlook these moments, Black Roses is a refreshingly different horror comedy that offers multiple enjoyable moments depicting heavy metal and rotten youth.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1191 Halloween 2019: Witchery aka Evil Encounters aka La Casa 4 (1988)

Shot in USA with American actors, Witchery is actually four and final installation of a weird Italian Casa series. La Casa and La Casa 2 are actually the original American The Evil Dead movies, while La Casa 3: Ghosthouse is an Italian movie disguised as a sequel but otherwise completely unrelated.

La Casa 4 is also completely unrelated to any of the previous movies. Most of the budget seems to have gone towards the exotic location as the movie itself is really tame, consisting mostly of a mixed group of visitants wandering around an old house and having encounters with an old lady doing all sorts of witchery.

The movie gets very low mileage out the the location as well as its cast starring David Hasselhoff and Linda Blair, both of which could’ve been replaced by any other lesser known actor without any noticeable impact.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 26%

#1190 Halloween 2019: Graverobbers aka Dead Mate (1988)

I love how Graverobbers starts: a mysterious stranger enters an all-American diner where Nora Mae, a young waiter works and right off the bat asks her to marry him. In a moment of impulsiveness she says yes and off they go, right in the middle of her work shift.

But the young love takes a turn for a worse as she finds out that there’s something dodgy going on with the mortuary where his husband works in, and that the previous love interests of the mortician have gone mysteriously missing.

Graverobbers is a black comedy and I like how the horror to humour ratio is pretty much right: not in your face funny, but quirky enough so that it’s clear we’re dealing with a make-believe grown-ups fairytale here. Although the movie wraps in a less satisfactory way than I’d hoped for, the few events that precede – like the motorcycle chase with the undead chauffeur – managed to raise a smile and are something that at least the fans of The Return of the Living Dead might find interesting.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 67%

#1189 Halloween 2019: Blood Rage aka Slasher aka Nightmare at Shadow Woods (1987)

An evil half of the twins frames the other half for the murder he committed, and it’s after ten years later when the twin escapes from the asylum that the murders continue.

Blood Rage starts slow, and the story of the two twins is both dull and hard to follow. But as the movie progresses onwards it becomes actually interesting to see how the filmmakers will wrap up the encounter of the twins, along with the mother finally coming into realisation she’s been nourishing a viper in her bosom.

I did like the way the movie amps up the action and suspension towards the end, so that the movie gets quite intense – even borderline morbid – towards its last seconds.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 63%

#1188 Halloween 2019: Blood Harvest aka The Marvelous Mervo aka Nightmare (1987)

Based on the director Bill Rebane’s idea of having Tiny Tim starring in a horror movie, Blood Harvest is yet another slasher taking place in a rural setting.

If you’re like me and totally dubious about who Tiny Tim is, he was apparently some sort of a ukulele playing phenomenon known for his falsetto voice whose popularity peaked during the late 60s. In Blood Harvest he plays an eccentric brother who likes to wear a worn out clown costume, and whose function in the movie is to be the likely suspect to pin the murders on. But, the movie makes it much too obvious who the real killer is for this setup to actually work.

In the end the only interesting aspect of Blood Harvest remains the appearance of Tiny Tim – and even that is not that interesting for most people to bother.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 28%

#1187 Halloween 2019: The Boogey Man (1980)

Here’s another horror movie that doesn’t know exactly where it’s going and just wanders around pointlessly introducing one nonsensical concept after another. The pinnacle of this nonsense in The Boogey Man is a cracked mirror freeing an evil spirit. And then some killings take place.

While it’s nothing new for a horror movie to try and make killers out of the most idiotic inanimate objects, it takes a vast amount skill to pull it off in a believable way.

And it’s pretty much here that The Boogey Man ultimately fails as a movie.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 19%

#1186 Halloween 2019: Darkroom (1989)

Boasting likely the lushest mullet in any horror movie you’ll ever see, Darkroom is another mishmash of a movie that throws in a bunch of elements familiar from other similar titles, but in a way that they never quite click together in a satisfying way.

Visually the movie is solid and there’s a definite promise of a decent late horror flick, but despite the interesting setup the story itself ends up being the most disappointing factor here: behind the shiny facade is pretty basic slasher of a rural family getting attacked by a camera-wielding madman.

You know one of the characters is culpable – and it’s not going to be the one that the movie offers on a silver platter.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 59%

#1185 Halloween 2019: The Nesting (1981)

A woman suffering from nervous breakdown rents an old house where both the staff and the clientele of an old brothel appear haunting at night in The Nesting, a pretty flimsy attempt at horror.

The high level of unrealistic, supernatural nonsense presented in The Nesting does not pay off at all as it does not provide any scares, nor does it make for an interesting mystery story.

80s-o-meter: 57%

Total: 37%

#1184 Halloween 2019: Nightbeast (1982)

An alien with his face frozen on a silly grin crash lands on the earth and begins to kill anything that passes their way.

There are b-movies movies that are made intentionally bad. Then there are bad movies that are made without any skills, and end up being just plain bad and boring. And out of all the b-movies only a fraction are like Nightbeast: really bad, but totally disarming in its clumsiness and unintentional humour.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 76%

#1183 Halloween 2019: Lurkers (1988)

There’s something off with Lurkers throughout it’s running time. The picture angles seem odd, stylistic choices feel weird, pacing is way too slow and scenes are padded with unnecessary footage that should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor; it’s clear the movie wasn’t made by someone who knows their stuff.

The story only gets interesting towards the last 15 minutes, and even then it’s made for TV quality at best. Lurkers should’ve probably been a short movie as it doesn’t really carry through 90 minutes.

The movie was heading steadily to zero total scoring, but the twelve points I ended up giving to it are due to the last scene inside the house.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 12%

#1183 Halloween 2019: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

The prize for the most positive surprise of this Halloween goes once again to a made-for-TV movie.

Unlike the contemporary slashers, being a TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow can’t rely on gore or nudity so it has to make up for it with smart editing, suspense and atmosphere.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow is not particularly 80s horror movie, owing much more the classic black and white scary stories – but it stands out in a positive way for that very reason.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 83%

#1182 Halloween 2019: The Prey (1983)

Filmed already in 1979, but released only four years later, The Prey was originally prepared for Essex Productions known for its adult movies. And it shows: there’s a notable amount of naked skin on display here even for an early 80s slasher, that are well known for their gratuitous nudity.

The story is without surprises: a gang of horny teens wander off to forest, to be crossed off one by one by a manic killer.

The Prey manages to make its attempt entertaining and the production quality and cinematography is somewhat solid, but there’s nothing in here that would set it apart from similar titles. And due to its weak antagonist you will probably want to look elsewhere if cult slashers are your thing.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 55%

#1181 Halloween 2019: After Midnight (1989)

Another Halloween, another horror anthology. And I’m perfectly fine with it, as short stories seem an especially good and compact format for horror fireside stories.

The anthology kicks off with The Old Dark House, an excellent haunted house spooky tale that really gets spine tingling towards the end – good stuff!

The expectations are set high for the following A Night on the Town and All Night Operator parts, but although they are somewhat entertaining, they fail in being scary.

After Midnight on the whole is still a positive surprise and is worth watching, if only for its first story.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#1180 Halloween 2019: A Night to Dismember (1989)

One of the longest movies in making ever, most of A Night to Dismember was shot already in 1977, but it took the director Doris Wishman 10 or so years to actually get the movie put together and released.

The movie is a horrid mess that looks and feels like it was shot under heavy medication. There was absolutely nothing for me here, but the unintentional clumsiness might appeal to certain people.

While there is a certain value in perseverance and seeing a project through to the end, A Night to Dismember stands as a reminder that sometimes it would be preferable to just let your pet projects die a dignified death.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 1%

#1179 Halloween 2019: Don’t Answer the Phone! (1980)

A typical trashy exploitation of the early 80s, Don’t Answer the Phone! does provide interesting setup of a serial killer calling to a radio psychologist and tormenting her with descriptions of his evil doings, but in the end does very little else in a satisfactory way.

Instead for opting for well build suspension, the movie focuses on providing lots of on-screen sadism that does very little in providing scares, but just concentrates on giving the blood hounds out there the gore and the agony that they came in for.

If trashy gonzo slashers are your thing, Don’t Answer the Phone! more than delivers – but if it is actual horror you’re after, you will want to look elsewhere.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 32%

#1178 Halloween 2019: Demented (1980)

A violent rape gets a woman institutionalised and later suffering from PTSD with constant nightmares in Demented, one of the revenge exploitation movies done in the vein of I Spit on Your Grave.

And it’s not a strong show. Demented feels quite a lot like an early 80s porn movie, and a brief Googling soon reveals why: The male lead Harry Reems was one of the most well known porn actors of the time.

Despite the grave theme the movie is bit on a boring side with most of the interest in waiting on how the husband’s gaming with his extramarital affair plays out. There’s a slight payback in the end for sticking around as the movie gets pretty absurd and wanders deep into the black comedy territory.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 61%

#1177 Halloween 2019: Mausoleum (1983)

Girl enters a forgotten Mausoleum and becomes possessed by demon that had previously killed her mother.

The movie has a strong made for TV vibe to it and the green glowing demonic eye effect provides only unintentional humour these days.

The few gory deaths and gratuitous nudity can’t save the movie’s soap opera like execution that makes it somewhat of a snooze fest.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 38%

#1176 Halloween 2019: Frightmare (1983)

An iconic old school horror movie star passes away, but has still more than one trick up his sleeve for those that dare to violate the peace of his tomb.

And it’s soon after this that a few young fans decide to break and enter the tomb and to remove his body, with baneful consequences.

Frightmare offers a somewhat interesting twist to slashers, but never quite reaches its full potential. The 40s and 50s style of horror cinema combined with 80s aesthetics works well – including that ultra modern, almost discotheque like tomb – but as much as I sympathise with Ferdy Mayne’s portrayal of the haunting film star of the yesteryear, the character remains a much too weak antagonist to offer any real scares.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 60%