#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%

#1406 Halloween 2020: Satan’s Blade (1984)

After a very confusing start of Satan throwing a cursed blade to a tree trunk, followed by lesbian lovers robbing a bank and killing the cashiers and then retreating to a cabin where the other betrays and kills the other for the money and then gets stabbed with the aforementioned Satan’s Blade, the movie finally starts after 15 minutes of padding.

This is when a group of friends arrive to the mountains and they are placed in the same cabin where the murder took place, with blood marks still (!) visible on the ceiling. To no-one’s surprise they then meet a violent dead, one by one.

Low in quality, and low in most other aspects, The movie fails as a horror movie (and even as a slasher) – but there’s some limited charm in its homespun, adorably clumsy qualities.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 30%

#1403 Halloween 2020: Twisted Nightmare (1987)

Twisted Nightmare is one of the movies that got made but did not need to exist.

Basically a remake of Friday the 13th Part III (shot in the same set and repeating the same kills), I can’t imagine the movie would excite any fans of the original nor excite new audience in the already saturated market of 80s slashers.

Twisted Nightmare is a teflon coated, empty shell of a movie that enters and leaves the viewer without leaving any trace or lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 6%

#1402 Halloween 2020: Splatter University (1984)

Splatter University is the most inept take on the slasher genre I’ve seen to date. Not only does it recycle elements seen in other movies, but actually manages to ruin and water down all of them. Also the humor seen in the movie (yes, it tries to be humoristic at times despite not classified as a comedy) falls as flat as its horror aspect.

Splatter University does manage to do one thing (and one thing only) right by eliminating people I thought were the central characters, which sort of made for a nice surprise element towards the end.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 9%

#1398 Halloween 2020: He Knows You’re Alone (1980)

A serial killer is loose in He Knows You’re Alone, killing young women in Staten Island.

He does the expected: spooks around the bushes to provide that eerie feeling before entering the houses of his bride-to-be victims and wasting them. And he is very smart about his moves, until it’s time to kill the main character, whom he fails to dispose of so that they have to run around a morgue until the most disappointing twist ending I’ve seen to date.

Only notable thing about Twisted Nightmare is the debut role of Tom Hanks who was at first ear marked as one of the wasteable side characters, but whose role was expanded for a few scenes more after the director Armand Mastroianni noted Hanks’ exceptional screen presence.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 37%

#1392 Halloween 2020: Don’t Go in the Woods (1981)

Don’t Go in the Woods is often dubbed the worst slasher of all times, which is a mouthful; I’ve seen worse slashers even this very Halloween. At least this one has some unintentional humor in it to make it a bit more interesting.

You know the drill; teens wander around in wilderness, have sex, get killed, nothing extraordinary here. The sleeping bag scene was actually a stroke of genius from someone, and the panic in that scene is very relatable and tangible, so there .. the movie actually does one better than most of the slasher trash.

The ending on the other hand is almost adorable in its clumsiness, and that alone warrants watching Don’t Go in the Woods .. if you really have to watch one slasher this year.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 27%

#1388 Halloween 2020: Terror Train (1980)

One of the few Canadian horror movies to make it to this site (they also had a flood of their own), thanks to starring the then-slasher queen Jamie Lee Curtis, Terror Train’s effort to add something a little new to the slasher formula feels fresh at first.

The revenge story taking place in a moving train rent for a fraternity’s new year party is a great idea on paper but it’s the stuffy 70s execution that drags the movie down quite a bit. More of a whodunnit than your typical slasher, the lack of a menacing form of evil also makes the movie pale in comparison with the best of the genre.

As a sort of a curiosity the young (and very skinny) David Copperfield can be seen in one of the supporting roles, which turned out to be his first and last of its kind.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 38%

#1386 Halloween 2020: The Nail Gun Massacre (1985)

One more for this year’s pile of crummy horror movies, The Nail Gun Massacre starts off with a gang rape performed by construction workers, and a following killing spree where they get eliminated by a killer armed with a nail gun.

What the movie lacks in style, wit and overall quality it partially makes up with its utterly stupid one-liners, delivered by the masked assassin while performing the kills. The crew clearly had a good time with these, and admittedly they did make me laugh in their silliness.

Alas, this is where the positive news end. The Nail Gun Massacre is another amateurish horror movie exercise and there’s really nothing here to make special enough to leave a lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 17%

#1384 Halloween 2020: Out of the Dark (1988)

A slasher thriller done in a very late 80s style, Out of the Dark is one of those movies that manages to look like a movie taking place inside a movie world, which to me is always a big plus even though the holes in the seams are often visible due to the b-movie nature of the film, which manifests in some of the characters resembling bit too much of caricatures, with obvious fake beards and make up applied.

Not set out to gather points for originality, Out of the Dark concentrates on providing the viewer an entertaining distraction from the reality, and the movie does reach its goal fairly well. More of a thriller with a light whodunnit layer than actual horror movie, Out of the Dark will not give you your serving of scares this Halloween, but it will make for a relatively entertaining 90s minutes.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 68%

#1374 Halloween 2020: The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)

The Hills Have Eyes Part II, a continuum to the 1977 original movie – apparently some sort of a cult classic – is one of the most soulless duds of a movie I’ve seen in ages.

Basically your typical teen slasher, but taking place in a desert instead of forest, The Hills Have Eyes Part II brings absolutely nothing refreshing to the table, and the few odd variables that are present here (motorcycles, a goofball sidekick baddie, shot in darkness without adequate lighting) make the movie even worse than 99% of its rivals – and those rivals aren’t exactly state of the art cinema. To make things even worse, the padding of the movie is painfully obvious, with prolonged scenes and unnecessary flashbacks from the original movie.

Director Wes Craven who would have his huge breakthrough in the same year with A Nightmare on Elm Street has later disowned the movie, stating it was released only because he needed the movie at the moment.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 4%

#1372 Halloween 2020: Madman (1982)

Another permutation of the Halloween / Friday the 13th style teenagers in the wilderness slasher, Madman boasts one of the ugliest posters around (there’s another, even a more horrid version available) but surprises positively, thanks to very, very low expectations.

Instead of opting for super imaginative kills often seen in the genre, Madman hits the nail on the head with its eery scares that are made scarier by being able to relate to them. I mean, who of us has never stood in a pitch black forest, lighting the bushes nearby with a flashlight, and really hoped you won’t reveal someone or something looking right back at you? This is what separates Madman from slashers, all of which I don’t even pass for horror.

The movie resembles me of the 1987 horror movie Slaughterhouse both with its rural theme and its antagonist, but fails to leave a similar lasting impression. Still, pretty good for a braindead slasher.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 62%

#1348 Schizoid (1980)

Someone is sending Julie, a local columnist, threat notes and killing people in her therapy group one by one using a pair of scissors as the murder weapon.

The unappetizingly named Schizoid marches to the stage a bunch of shady characters that all seem to have their dark sides and leaves the viewer doing the whodunnit guesswork of figuring out which one of the likable suspects did the killings, or – you guessed it – is it someone much less likable.

While I’m always wondering the movie world’s eagerness to cast Klaus Kinski who always seems like playing the same role through every movie, in Schizoid the director David Paulsen seems to be able to keep him in control and he manages in the role like any other bulk actor.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 39%

#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%

#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%

#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%

#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%

#1173 Halloween 2019: Offerings (1989)

A mistreated boy grows up in an asylum and breaks free to pay the old neighbourhood a visit and to have his revenge on his tormentors.

Offerings is the most blatant Halloween clone I’ve seen to date, smartly disguised as a homage. The antagonist has the same bodily properties than Michael Myers – bullets don’t seem to slow him down – but as a character he is a far cry from his paragon.

The name Offerings is derived from the habit of the killer leaving body parts to his loved one – a girl who stood up against the bullies – and it’s a charming little touch in this otherwise eventless slasher.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 51%

#1155 Halloween 2019: Silent Rage (1982)

A slasher featuring Chuck Norris? Although the movie markets itself as a action crime movie, make no mistake as it takes most of its cues from the contemporary slashers – in good and in bad.

On the bright side, Silent Rage also brings something a little different to the table and manages to move cross-genre in a surprising way. There is even a bit of scifi brought into the mix as we are introduced to the mad scientist who fiddles with the Mother Nature, creating a self healing, relentless kill machine not unlike Michael Myers or Jason.

With this genre of choice many of its banalities are unfortunately also brought in to the mix, including a very disappointing and clichéd last second cliffhanger ending.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 58%

#1090 They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

An older female teacher seducing her young male student to a sexual intercourse, why does this seem to ring a bell? Oh yes, we saw the same concept in Private Lessons some two hundred movies ago. And hey – it even stars that same guy, Eric Brown.

Despite the obvious similarities, the two movies aren’t related and from the get go They’re Playing with Fire seems to have an actual movie it as the relationship soon turns into foul play, resulting in a murder and our young casanova getting wrongly accused.

But as the director Howard Avedis doesn’t seem to be capable in anything else but to try out the cheapest of the tricks, the movie soon turns into something of a slasher, nullifying all the thriller elements that had been build so far.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 33%

#1086 Disconnected (1984)

The only relief I had when watching this movie was the realisation that I wasn’t sitting in a movie screening, having to watch through this pile of excrement just because the filming crew were my acquaintances. Because Disconnected is precisely the kind of student film crap that calls for intervention from the friends: Telling them kindly but firmly that making movies might just not be the right choice for them.

I won’t waste any more time – mine or yours – listing everything that’s wrong with the film; it’s easier to just state there is absolutely nothing of value here.

The only merit that Disconnected has is its ability gathers all the worst aspects of indie horror films into one, and upping the ante by making simple slasher formula so cryptic nobody can understand one bit of it.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 0%