#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%

#972 Halloween 2018: Trick or Treats aka Don’t Prank the Babysitter! (1982)

When Halloween night stopped being fun, indeed!

Trick or Treats is yet another horror movie this year with an interesting synopsis, and a lousy execution; an innocent babysitter getting tormented by a prankster kid from hell is an original and interesting concept that would’ve surely lent itself for many interesting plot twists.

But the screenwriter and director Gary Graver never manages to evolve the idea any further, and the shtick becomes tiresome before it gets entertaining. While the kid is pranking the babysitter, a killer put inside an asylum in the beginning of the movie makes his painstakingly slow getaway from the institute to perform his killings, and the movie is pretty much over by the time he finally makes it to the site.

Oh, and don’t get fooled by David Carradine getting the top billing here. His role is minuscule and probably shot in just a few hours time.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 28%

#968 Halloween 2018: Student Bodies (1981)

Student Bodies is a spoof of the slasher movies that thrived in the early 80s.

It came to the party remarkably early in 1981, at the time when slashers were still arriving left, right and center for the next two years. Considering its early release date it feels surprisingly fresh, even more so than most of the movies it satirises. The humour is of the crazy comedy style with many loose gags thrown in, in the style of Airplane (1980). Admittedly many of the gags and jokes are snappy, but still rarely laugh out loud funny. There are a few recurring routines also that get old really fast, like the antagonist’s continuous heavy breathing spread throughout the movie.

One of the film’s best remembered character is the mysterious ’The Stick’ – a raw-boned stand-up comedian playing Malvert the school janitor – for whom Student Bodies remained his only feature film before his untimely death in 1989.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 52%

#967 Halloween 2018: Final Exam (1981)

Final Exam feels like two different movies merged into one: There’s a surprisingly interesting drama comedy about college life, believable relationships and the power of fraternities over freshmen – some above average slasher plot lines going on here!

Then, there is most a pretty uninteresting slasher haphazardly glued on the side, which to its only merit doesn’t directly copy any other slasher I know of. But, it does boost a pretty appalling antagonist and doesn’t really bring anything much new or interesting to the table.

Thanks to the some actual writing work and character development Final Exam ends up well above the usual soulless copy paste slashers, but most likely won’t please most of the horror gore hounds out there.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 47%

#965 Halloween 2018: Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Sorority House Massacre marks for an another late comer movie to the slasher genre.

The movie repackages the original Halloween plot line with a murderous brother coming after people returning to the house where the murders originally happened, and wraps it all up in a cheap direct-to-video container and sprinkles on top just about every cliché of the genre it can find.

The expectable outcome may please the most devoted fans of the genre, but personally I found Sorority House Massacre one of the most uninspired attempts at the subject.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 12%

#963 Halloween 2018: Hack-o-Lantern aka Halloween Night aka The Damning (1988)

A low budget, direct-to-video horror movie known by many names, Hack-o-Lantern follows a satanic cult that sacrifices its victims on Halloween eves, run by a hillbilly granpa who this year he aims to initiate his mullet-sporting nephew Tommy as the new cult leader.

As soon as you hear there’s also a totally uncalled for impromptu stand-up comedy routine, tons of huge eighties hair and a trashy rock music video dream sequence ending up with the band members vanishing into thin air and the guitarist getting his head chopped off with a pitchfork you’d think you’re in to a real b-movie treat. But this potentially hilariously absurd concept is never followed up with any coherent plot, and the movie itself ends up something of a snooze fest.

Hack-o-Lantern has much of the right elements for a cult classic, but thanks to a total lack of direction the movie soon becomes uninteresting, ending up somewhat of a chore to watch through.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 28%

#957 Halloween 2018: Sleepaway Camp 3 – Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Shot back to back with the second part, Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland picks up the ’story’ one year after the events seen in the sequel.

On the thematic level the movie continues exactly where it left off previously, so it’s more of the same old. But this time around the movie seems even more relaxed and out there with the antagonist almost yawning as she wipes out the campers one by one. Some unnecessary flashbacks are added to the movie in an obvious attempt to make it run a few minutes longer.

Teenage Wasteland is utter garbage, but on the other hand it’s enjoyably loose and indifferent about it all, and that’s something I can still respect on some level.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 53%

#956 Halloween 2018: Sleepaway Camp 2 – Unhappy Campers (1988)

Shot five years after the original, Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers has a very little to do with the original. Sure, the summer camp motif is still there, but this time around its all for chuckles, laughs, titties and gore.

As a horror spoof Sleepaway Camp 2 is better than most of its peers, but as a movie it’s shallow as a puddle killfest where your mileage will depend on how much you enjoy witnessing the various ways the antagonist rubs out her victims. Made for a definite film to sit through with your brains switched off, I can’t but to help that the genre would still lend itself for a bit wittier spoofing than what’s on offer here.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 51%

#955 Halloween 2018: Sleepaway Camp (1983)

If there’s one common denominator with all of the Friday the 13th copycat slashers I’ve had to sit through, it’s that just can’t hold a candle to the original, no matter how blatantly they copy it. With Sleepaway Camp Jason has actually met his peer, if not even a successor.

The jolly happy Meatballs like camp look and feel works well with the atrocities the movie has up its sleeve. Most of the killings are pretty inventive and horrid and the outdated early 80s look somehow becomes the movie well. But it is that notorious end part that takes the movie from a slasher to a full fledged horror movie and if you have ever heard rumours about it: Yes, it’s pretty much as chilling as they come.

Sleepaway Camp ended up one of the most pleasant (or unpleasant) surprises this year and should make its way on your Halloween list even if slashers aren’t your thing.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 87%

#947 Halloween 2018: Blood Hook (1986)

If you’re like me and watched your fair share of slashers, you would agree that there’s a certain comedic element present in many of them even if they’re not marketed as comedies – especially the ones that show the imaginative ways how the killers do away with their victims. I’m tend to be very sceptical every time I’m presented with a slasher comedy, as they set out to parodize a movie genre that’s somewhat of a parody to begin with and a setup that rarely lends itself to any witty approaches.

In this sense Blood Hook is the worst of the worst. Otherwise your typical slasher, the comedy here is limited in the method of how the killer attacks his human prey: By throwing an oversized, hooked lure at them. Yes, it is just as funny on the screen as it sounds here.

As much as I sometimes loathe the copy paste slashers, some of them still earn a bit of my respect for having the backbone of not making a total, idiotic buffoonery out of their movie. For Blood Hook, not even that applies.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 3%