#1492 Island Claws (1980)

I’m not quite sure if it’s an accidental or intentional, but Island Claws is a flawless homage to the 1950s gigantic monster movies.

In fact, it totally looks and feels as if some old black-and-white movie had been AI coloured posthumously. The small village, idyllic little bar, main male leads and the research faculty are all charmingly familiar.

It’s therefore a shame such a nice set up is wasted on a totally average monster movie. I would’ve much preferred seeing some kind of a thriller/drama taking place in this same setting, instead of this low-quality monster nonsense.

80s-o-meter: 4%

Total: 50%

#1469 Too Scared To Scream (1984)

Too Scared To Scream takes notes from the early 80s slasher movies as well as the genre classic Psycho and serves them as a thriller with a slight horror twist to it.

A high rise apartment complex in New York City is being riddled with murders. Suspicion points to a peculiar doorman played by Ian McShane (of the Lovejoy and Deadwood fame) and its up to the Detective Dinardo (Mike Connors) to prepare a trap to catch the slayer.

I would give Too Scared To Scream top rating purely as a slasher movie (as it tops that genre), but although I do like the overall mood and the setup, as a horror thriller it does not fare quite that well.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 61%

#1454 White of the Eye (1987)

Truth be told, there was nothing at first in the White of the Eye that caught my interest. I found the characters and cinematography uninteresting and was ready to sign the whole movie off as something average at best.

But as the movie finally got into the gear, it ended up being an interesting and entertaining – although a bit tamer – ride along the line of what Coen brothers might’ve cooked up.

White of the Eye remains the only feature film of the 80s by the director Donald Cammell whose directorial work at the time consisted more of the music documentaries, but as such it’s one of those rare films that will give you a much better mileage on the second run.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 75%

#1451 The ’Burbs (1989)

Shot in the legendary Universal back lot, The ’Burbs is one of those perfect 80s family movies that lets us a sneak peak into the life of a neighbourhood in the suburbs where a tempest in a teapot is just about to be unleashed as a new suspicious family moves in to disturb the peace.

Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun create an unlikely trio of family guys who stick together even thought they don’t share much more in common other than the same street address. Corey Feldman joins the show to do what Corey Feldman does the best: being the laid back dude often breaking the fourth wall.

The ’Burbs balances well between creating big drama out of small elements, suspense and comedy. It is debatable if the movie needed its last minute plot twist (I’d been totally content without it), but otherwise the movie does very little wrong.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 90%

#1447 The Alien Dead (1980)

A subpar zombie movie disguised as a subpar scifi movie, The Alien Dead tries to sell a concept of living dead sort of aliens living in the bottom of a swamp who devour local fauna and humans.

Directed by Fred Olen Ray also known from abominations such as The Phantom Empire and Biohazard, The Alien Dead is bad even by his standards. Not only is The Alien Dead super uninteresting, but every imaginable technical shortcoming is to be found here as well.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 9%

#1445 Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980)

I hated Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype – a tired word play if I’ve ever seen one – as soon as I heard about the movie, and that feeling got more intensive upon seeing the film poster.

Again, that feeling deepened as soon as the first few moments passed, The movie was just as inept and useless as I’d anticipated.

There’s not much positive to be said about the movie. It’s not as bad a shipwreck as the 1982 Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again, but it’s just bad in various other ways; if neither one of these movies would have seen the light of the day, we’d been better off as the human kind.

The shit they greenlighted at one point of time, sheesh..

80s-o-meter: 22%

Total: 4%

#1408 Halloween 2020: The House on Sorority Row aka House of Evil (1982)

Widely dubbed as ”one of the better slashers” out there, The House on Sorority Row follows a pack of sorority girls who clash with their sorority house mother over arranging a party and end up killing her by accident. The party does go on as planned, but guests start to go missing one by one in a true slasher fashion.

I applaud the team in taking a bit different approach with the movie – and they do manage to make it more memorable – but even with a few high points, The House on Sorority Row is ultimately just a thriller, with the negative aspects that come with the genre, and the disappointing ending does very little to help its case.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 60%

#1407 Halloween 2020: Death House aka Zombie Death House (1988)

John Saxon directs and stars in Death House, a zombie horror game taking place in one of these special movie prisons. And as always, the authorities that run the penitentiary are up to no good, this time around using the convicts on a death row as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.

After one of the experiments goes south, turning the prisoner a bubbling pile of flesh, the jail goes to lockdown and everyone inside still not zombified try make it out one way or another.

Death House is almost as plain 80s action thriller horror as they come, but in a good way; the movie delivers what it promises in a positively entertaining package.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 80%

#1405 Halloween 2020: The Children (1980)

A bus full of children are exposed to a chemical that turns them into manic killers capable of turning everyone in their way into a steaming pile of flesh.

Creepy children are not a new thing with horror movies, but the approach in The Children works better than any sings in the movie would suggest. It’s clumsy almost to the extend to being unintentionally funny, but makes the best out of concept and does feel menacing and ominous at the same time, making it a positive surprise overall.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 60%

#1401 Halloween 2020: Prime Evil (1988)

A satanic cult led by a charismatic priest hunt and kidnap victims for their sacrificial ceremonies in Prime Evil, a movie that ends up surprisingly tame despite the grim theme.

While it’s an ok break from the endless stream of slashers this year, it does not really spook or send chills down your spine, unless you are scared by people in robes, chanting in a basement.

William Beckwith performs well as the magnetic leader of the cult and Christine Moore whom I previously saw in the subpar Lurkers (coincidently also directed by Roberta Findlay) fares much better here as the target of the cult’s evil plans.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 57%

#1399 Halloween 2020: Maniac (1980)

Although previously an unknown movie to me, Maniac as a title always had an ominous sound for me. As the movie kicked off I was thinking if this is one of those over hyped horror movies of the era; the overall quality definitely looked like there was very little to be expected out of the movie.

But as the movie finally takes off, it’s one gruesome, palm-sweating ride. Joe Spinell whom I previously haven’t registered as a talent plays to a perfection the role of a man haunted by his demons, going from a violent rage to self pity quick enough to turn the viewers repulsion into compassion within seconds.

Still, the movie is perhaps best known for its graphic bloodletting orchestrated by the special effects wizard Tom Savini, who later admitted that maybe he went a bit too far with some of the FX. As Maniac hit the theatres it caused outrage with many critics at the time and admittedly the violence here is still very impactful even today. But beyond that Maniac is also an interesting study into the mind of a madman, only really shadowed by the totally unnecessary, clichéd ending.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 83%

#1397 Halloween 2020: Galaxy of Terror aka Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror (1981)

The vast success of the Star Wars opened floodgates for all sorts of space adventures in the early 80s, but with only a few exceptions they’re not much to look at. Galaxy of Terror is one of those exceptions that manage to stand out, thanks to fresh art direction by young James Cameron and atmospheric cinematography by Jacques Haitkin that make the movie look quite a bit better than the movie’s relatively modest budget would suggest.

The concept of the movie is a bit too high-flying to my preference and it fails to convey its idea as intented – the idea comes across and it’s interesting .. but it does not exactly blow one’s mind. A more straight forward story of space paranoia, mistrust and alien presence could have worked better here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 80%

#1395 Halloween 2020: Scared Stiff (1987)

There seems to be a pattern in my life; watching a movie I run into an actor I’ve never seen before, and the very next movie stars that obscure actor again. With Scared Stiff that actor is Andrew Stevens, who single handedly saved The Terror Within.

Scared Stiff is a quality late 80s horror thriller that mixes in elements of fantasy and imagination where a ghost of a cruel slave trader possesses the father of the family after they move in an old colonial house and discover the dark secrets within. Everything in Scared Stiff takes place firmly in a movie movie world and you will probably enjoy it a lot more if you watch it as a fairy tale rather than a serious cinema for the grown ups.

The movie is visually rich and enjoyable to watch, but as with many movies similar to it, the scares Scared Stiff provides are comparable to a tame Disney ghost ride rather than something that would keep you at the edge of your seat.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 72%

#1394 Halloween 2020: New Year’s Evil (1980)

A mysterious stranger calls a TV host to let them know there’ll be one murder at the clock as each states from east to west coast reaches new year, and that the host herself will be the last victim.

Although classified as slasher, New Year’s Evil is actually a horror thriller that sidesteps all the banalities of slashers. We follow the maniac cruising around L.A., picking up his victims, and the story at this point is told much more from the killer’s point of view rather than the victims’, which makes for an effective design choice. I also applaud how the filmmakers don’t view the killer as an omnipotent super human, but rather show him fumbling along the way, struggling to make it to the killings in time and even having to escape an angry mob.

New Year’s Evil has a lot of good thing going for it, but it suffers a bit from at times less than stellar execution. Here’s one of those movies that could benefit of a modern remake.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 72%

#1393 Halloween 2020: Zombie Nosh aka FleshEater aka Revenge of the Living Zombies (1988)

Who knew a low budget zombie movie that innovates very little could be one of the highlights of this Halloween?

Directed and written by Bill Hinzman who originally starred in the genre classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), Zombie Nosh (and its dozen releases under different titles) is a much better stab into film making than his 1986 directorial debut slasher The Majorettes.

Sure, it’s low quality, low production value and definitely looks older than its release year 1988 suggests, but Zombie Nosh manages to be quite effective at times like when the living dead creep out of the darkness to devour the flesh of the living. Plus, some of its inventive special effects punch in one or two weight classes above the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 62%

#1391 Halloween 2020: Zombie Island Massacre (1984)

I have false advertising. Both the title and the poster with Zombie Island Massacre promise a clean cut, less repulsive version of italian exploitation films like Cannibal Holocaust .. but only delivers a lukewarm permutation of the slasher formula.

It’s a weak show of a group of tourists in a Caribbean island getting picked up by strange killers one by one that gets marginally better towards the last 15 minutes, when two film making tools called manuscript and plot are first introduced.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 9%

#1390 Halloween 2020: Primal Scream aka Hellfire (1987)

I picked up Primal Scream confusing it to much more interesting (at least on paper) scifi horror movie Primal Rage that I was looking forward to watching.

I don’t know how Primal Rage will measure up against this movie, but it can’t do much worse. There’s nothing wrong with the story per se – a future substance called Hellfire that provides tons of energy but has one downside to it: it ignites and burns up all human flesh upon contact. A private investigator gets tangled to the web of lethal coverup as the big corporate mining the substance does not want the info to leak out.

Primal Scream might have made an ok graphic novel, but the level of execution (and other design choices) is just not high enough to make the story interesting. Film noir style private investigator, femme fatale and futuristic setting I can see all working if done either in drawing or high production values similar to Blade Runner, but Primal Scream manages to look little else than a slice of 80s everyday life, spiced up with 80s style scifi items, shot in a style that resembles more of an European 70s indie movie than a 1987 American feature film.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 11%

#1389 Halloween 2020: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

A travelling circus appears to a small rural town out of thin air, and besides the entertainment it seems to have other things in mind for the town folk.

Based on the Ray Bradbury’s 1962 novel of the same name, Something Wicked This Way Comes came into form already in 1958 as a screenplay but failed to get backed up by the production companies, until getting picked by Walt Disney Pictures. The movie has a strong 60s Walk Disney Productions look and feel to it with the setting, characters and outdated special effects.

The concept of making pack with the devil here is actually pretty great and could have lent itself to looking ever more closely to the secret wishes of the villagers, and used more wisely towards the end, but what the movie provides in a form of hall of mirrors and a magic carousel did not grasp me at all.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 51%