#1604 Halloween 2021: The Sender (1982)

The Sender is a movie akin to The Dead Zone, released one year later and does have many same kind of interesting properties to it including the final events of the movie.

But it does not have the same kind of sharpness in writing that Stephen King was able to put into his work. As for someone who enjoyed The Dead Zone, I did find The Sender interesting indeed, even with its needlessly convoluted plot.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 68%

#1594 Halloween 2021: One Dark Night aka Night of Darkness aka Dark Night aka The Entity Force (1982)

A bullied girl takes on a challenge to spend a night in a Mausoleum to be accepted by a small sisterhood. Little does she know that a man in possession of strange powers has been just sealed inside one of the crypts, and he’s about to make the bodies reanimate this same night.

The premise in the movie is super interesting and there’s certainly a good tension and atmosphere to be found here at times, but the obvious padding and buildup just takes much too long, making One Dark Night one of those horror movies that would’ve worked better as a short film.

The finale isn’t quite the fireworks I hoped it to be after the lengthy buildup, but the tension is definitely there.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 61%

#1593 Halloween 2021: Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes aka Amityville Horror IV (1989)

..and Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes is where the series gets stupid again. The evil has escaped from the Amityville house in a form of a brass floor lamp(!) and is now tormenting a new place.

Other than that the movie plays heavily with typical the genre clichés, like priests teaming up against the evil.

Amityville 4 is the first movie in the series to be made for TV – and frankly that should’ve been a cue for the team to leave skip the project and dedicate their time on something else.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 35%

#1592 Halloween 2021: Amityville 3 aka Amityville 3-D aka Amityville III: The Demon (1983)

Another movie that took part of the early 80s 3D craze, Amityville 3-D (like the formerly reviewed Silent Madness) has since then seen a Blu-Ray release in good old 2D. Excluding the overall blurriness towards the edges of the screen, and the few awkward scenes obviously set up with 3D in mind, the movie luckily does not suffer from its 3D origins much.

And as the case was with Silent Madness, this third installation in the Amityville series is actually surprisingly potent horror movie – contrary to all the expectations. The ominous hole in the room, the various types of scourge in the house and possessed daughter; it’s all good classical horror that relies more on the eery presence of evil, instead of them cheap jump scares.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 71%

#1591 Halloween 2021: Spookies (1986)

Apparently a cult classic of some sort due to its inventive use of horror FX, the effects are nice (even great) – but pretty much all of what Spookies has to offer.

More precisely, it’s the better than expected effects that make the other, below the average aspects of the movie look quite bad in comparison: the werewolf like creature roaming the forest for example, laughable. The 300-year old owner of the house, plain bad. There are a group of quests constantly branching off to different sections of the mansion to make themselves easier targets for the evil, quite uninspired.

On the other hand the birthday party, farting mud monsters and the possessed lady: all pretty cool, with the rest of the segments falling somewhere in between.

Spookies is more of a theme park right than an actual movie, which makes recommending it without urging to jump to the juicy bits – and skipping the boring – quite hard.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 61%

#1590 Halloween 2021: Necromancer (1988)

Ahem, so okay.. Apparently there’s a Necromancer living in this suburban garage who then helps one girl to take revenge on a gang of fellow high school students that raped her.

Necromancer is an exceptionally bad and credibility look into supernatural mumbo-jumbo, coupled with some piss poor special effects. And I’m being polite here.

I just skimmed through the movie once again before rating it to see if it would have any redeeming qualities to mention. But no – the movie starts ok but just keeps getting gradually worse and worse towards the end.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 11%

#1587 Halloween 2021: Jaws of Satan aka King Cobra (1981)

Let’s start off with a piece of trivia: this movie was at first called King Cobra, but later changed to Jaws of Satan in an attempt to try and piggyback on the Jaws movie series’ success.

In the movie Satan has taken the form of a snake, and after a small killing spree starts tormenting Father Tom. In other words, this is one of those scary movies that relies leans heavily on the religious, supernatural themes.

There isn’t much good to be said about the movie itself as it’s really quite uninspired, other than that Fritz Weaver does a performs well as the flawed man of spirit. The fans of Christina Applegate might be also interesting to her debuting in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 33%

#1582 Halloween 2021: The Head Hunter aka Headhunter (1988)

It was usually the Italian film production companies that migrated to Miami to shoot their films with American actors, so Headhunter with its South-African film crew is bit of an anomaly in this aspect.

That is not all the movie has in common with its Italian counterparts; it is visually quite apt (special effects notwithstanding) and on the surface level it feels as a quite passable small horror movie where an evil spirit is chopping off heads for their personal collection.

The idea of the bad entity works, but then the movie gets unfocused with tribal African mumbo jumbo, and other similar aspects like the cop’s domestic affairs that just had me snooze off. Movie gets once again mildly more interesting towards the end as the evil becomes a shape shifter and things get almost hilariously (but not quite enough!) overboard.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 61%

#1581 Halloween 2021: A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

A continuum to the 1979 CBS TV adaptation of the Stephen King’s 1975 novel of the same name, Larry Cohen’s A Return to Salem’s Lot is in independent continuum to the the series where a reporter is persuaded into writing a comprehensive history of the vampires occupying the small fictional town of Jerusalem’s Lot.

I don’t know how faithful is the newer version to the original, not having either watched the mini series or read the book, but on the surface it seems that only the overall theme is used, along with the main antagonist from the TV series being used on the VHS cover, likely to have a stronger connection with the original. In this sequel the character is not to be found.

But a quite decent vampire movie is to be found here. Michael Moriarty has always been quite a mixed bag for me, but here he does well, and the weird co-existence with the vampiric townsfolk is interesting to watch. The real delight of the movie though is Samuel Fuller in the role of Dr. Van Meer, an old eccentric vampire killer.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 70%

#1575 Halloween 2021: Girls School Screamers (1985)

If something, Troma is never boring. It can be bad, and it can be totally tasteless – but never boring.

Cue in Girls School Screamers that right off the bat feels quite a different kind of Troma movie, like if they were really making a big push for the main stream cinema. The production quality is on a quite different level, and Girls School Screamers doesn’t look amateurish at all, but the movie is totally uneventful, and downright dull, which is truly a shame after that movie’s superb starting with a boy wandering into the old abandoned house. In fact, the starting scene feels like .. almost like from a different movie.

There’s a reason for that. Girls School Screamers actually started out as a haunter house movie called The Portrait shot in the 1985. Troma then picked up the project, added a few gory scenes in the movie and changed its title.

And it’s these hilariously gory small inserts that end up the only thing really working in this snoozefest.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 58%

#1569 Halloween 2021: Spellbinder aka Witching Hour (1988)

I’m not one for horror thrillers with an erotic twist to them – but hey, if it stars Kelly Preston, I’ll take it.

That coupled with the fact that Spellbinder is actually quite apt movie with a great late 80s style to it make the movie easy to recommend. The supernatural aspects of many horror movies can always be quite hard to sell for the viewer, but thanks to the highly entertaining nature of the movie, it’s easy to just go with the flow.

And the movie never wanders too far into the magical mumbo jumbo, but instead concentrates to tell the story through quite interesting array of characters and keeping the suspense level high until the end.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 85%

#1553 American Rickshaw aka American Risciò aka American Tiger (1989)

With American Rickshaw the director Sergio Martino bites a bit more than he can chew; a movie about a Miami rickshaw driver mixed with Chinese supernatural mumbo-jumbo gets outright ridiculous quickly. On the other hand it’s this nonsensical, over the top aspect of American Rickshaw that makes the movie if not enjoyable, at least an experience to watch through. This is definitely one more movie to the ”so bad it’s almost good” -category.

An Italian movie shot in Florida with American actors, American Rickshaw does its very best to underline its American origins – up to the title of the movie – by showcasing well the 80s Miami (beach) life. But, there’s something weirdly and wonderfully off about the movie throughout its running time that is somehow a straight giveaway that it’s not a Hollywood movie we’re talking about here.

I can’t rate American Rickshaw too generously because it’s just not a good movie per se. But take the low rating with a grain of salt, as it does have other interesting qualities to it, and if unorthodox movies are your thing, you might find a lot to enjoy about this wonderful train wreck.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 60%

#1546 The Dead Zone (1983)

Stephen King’s movies got translated to the silver screen in a quick pace after the success of Carrie and The Shining, but for the better of worse they rarely matched the sheer brilliance of these two movies. While The Dead Zone featuring Christopher Walken in the lead also falls somewhere far behind Carrie and The Shining, it’s still one of the more stronger King adaptations of the decade.

Despite the mild horror and supernatural elements, with The Dead Zone it was never that obvious that this was in fact a Stephen King movie, being more of a thriller. In fact, there’s nothing in the movie that would suggest an exceptional manuscript, and without reading the original 1979 novel of the same name, I can’t really tell how much has been lost (or found!) in translation with Jeffrey Boam’s screen write, or David Cronenberg’s directing.

Even if something has, The Dead Zone still makes for a decent movie with an interesting premise well worth one’s time.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 80%

#1538 Communion (1989)

Ok, so Communion and The Dead Zone and Brainstorm are the three 80s movies starring Christopher Walken that I keep mixing up as they all have a scifi / supernatural theme to them.

So, just to reiterate: The Dead Zone is the Stephen King one with Walken gaining psychic abilities after a car crash and the following coma. Brainstorm is the one where they can project images and memories direct to peoples brains with the head gizmo and things go south as the army gets interested in the device. And, finally, Communion is the one that is based on experiences of one Whitley Strieber who was spooked around in a cabin by extraterrestrials who did like the aliens typically do: shined light into their eyes and terrorised their dreams.

Communion is pretty much like every UFO story out there; it has an unbelievable and fascinating events way beyond our current comprehension, but very little explanation or concrete outcome of it all, and it’s this vagueness that leaves the experience pretty bland at the end.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 59%

#1496 The Devonsville Terror (1983)

A movie about 16th century witch hunt that has unexpected consequences to the present day, it takes ages for The Devonsville Terror to get to the most interesting parts of the story.

The movie has a strong late 70s British cinema vibe to it, and despite the quite dark themes a scary movie this ain’t.

At the end there is an unexpected surprise that the fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark might be able to appreciate.

80s-o-meter: 31%

Total: 34%

#1491 The Sisterhood (1988)

One of those dystopian wasteland movies, The Sisterhood brings very little new to the table but slightly improved production values over its early 80s counterparts, but still clearly falling behind of the fidelity seen in the Mad Max series of movies.

Here we follow a clique called The Sisterhood that possesses supernatural powers as they make their way through the wasteland trying to free the women captured by the evil tribes of the desert.

The movie consists mostly of driving sequences, shot in a sand pit of some sort with vehicles quite lazily modified of their 1970s and 1980s originals.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 21%

#1483 Resurrection (1980)

What Resurrection has going for it is an interesting premise where a woman discovers she has developed a healing powers after getting nearly killed in a car crash. How the movie handles dramatic structure after this is bit of a hit and miss though.

Her self discovery after the accident, first realisation of the power, relationship with the community and difficult relationship with her father are all very interesting themes, but the latter two could’ve been explored much further. Instead the story drifts off to involve her difficult relations ship with her lover along with religious themes that are far less interesting.

Ellen Burstyn has been flying totally under my radar despite her winning the Oscar for best Actress in academy awards on 1975 with Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. In Resurrection she is simply wonderful, portraying a person with warm supernatural power in her without overdoing or overselling it one bit.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#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%

#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%

#1379 Halloween 2020: Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf aka Howling II: Stirba Werewolf Bitch (1985)

A sequel to the 1981 The Howling, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf takes the franchise to a totally campy direction by bringing into the mix the concept of erotic leather having intercourses while turning into werewolves, uninspiring European location, and overall cheapness of it all.

Generally seen as a bad movie, some people seem to cheer the fact that Sybil Danning can be seen in one of the key roles in the movie. But the same goes for every movie Danning is in, and to me she does absolutely nothing. What it comes to cheap b-movie semi naked horror heroines, I’m Linnea Quigley kind of guy, myself.

The most painful aspect of Howling is to see the iconic Christopher Lee smearing his name with this movie, although it is quite apparent he regretted this decision already during the shooting.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 26%