#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%

#1588 Halloween 2021: Silent Madness aka Beautiful Screamers aka The Nightkillers aka The Omega Factor (1984)

Silent Madness is another early 80s 3-D movie that I immediately anticipated to stink to high heavens – but that contrary to all the expectations turned out a-ok.

The fact that I enjoyed Silent Madness seems even more implausible given the fact that it has probably the weakest antagonist I’ve ever seen in a slasher. Honestly, it looks like they applied some eye make up up to the production company janitor and just send him in front of cameras.

Luckily he is not actually even the main source for the suspension in the movie; it’s the corrupt asylum, its rotten doctors and their henchman orderlies that provide Silent Madness most of its thrills.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 72%

#1586 Halloween 2021: U.F.O. Abduction aka The McPherson Tape (1989)

Preceding Blair Witch Project ten years, The McPherson Tape took that same home video approach to create a ”lost” tape, an evidence that documents the scary moments unfolding before our eyes.

The approach is powerful as it effectively makes the viewer one of the few eye witnesses to the incident, and also give the footage certain mythical and forbidden flavour. While McPherson Tape nails the home video look & feel and the overall flow of the tableside conversations feel genuine, the actual interesting content of the movie is just about two or three minutes out of the 62 minute running time.

More interesting the the movie content (it’s not very interesting) or its scariness (not very scary) is the viral aspect that McPherson Tape managed to gain: the movie got spread around as VHS copies for years, with people who were sure this was the official proof for extraterrestrial life. The actual, official truth only came out years later as the official release, long time after VHS was no more.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 31%

#1585 Halloween 2021: The Aftermath aka Zombie Aftermath (1982)

I’ve been somewhat in the know about the cult status of The Aftermath, but 30 minutes in to the movie I did not understand quite why; it’s pretty shoddy, but not quite bad enough to entertain, and visually it’s more close to movies you’d see towards the early 70s – including its beginning, lifted straight out of the original Planet of the Apes. Also the way the camera was operated and framed seemed to be a bit off all times.

It was only after digging to the internet for more information that I learned how the whole movie is a brainchild of the movie’s lead Steve Barkett, who also wrote, directed and edited the movie. Considering how much harder all this was not only to finance, but to pull off technically, my hat is off to Barkett. Overall, well done – the movie looks better than many bigger budget movies of the 1978.

You read it right. The movie was actually shot originally in 1978, but it took Barkett four years to shoot additional footage and to get the movie released. Released in the UK as Zombie Aftermath, the movie does not actually contain any zombies, and is very slim in the scary department as well, falling more closely to dystopian action movie category, rather than horror.

80s-o-meter: 28%

Total: 45%

#1584 Halloween 2021: Sweet Sixteen aka Sweet 16 (1983)

Here’s another slasher I’ve mixed up with many similarly named slashers – Bloody Birthday, Happy Birthday to Me 15 and to name a few.

Sweet 16 draws its inspiration (quite loosely) from native Americans, mixes in some weak mythology and puts them up against racist rednecks and watches them clash. Everyone bad gets what’s coming to them and then it’s up to the viewer to start the guesswork who was the actual killer, and watch through to the totally expected last minute jump scare attempt.

The movie is not exceptional in any sense, and was going for a passable rating. But here’s the thing: I really hate the exploitative sexual angle in the marketing of this movie that has nothing to do with the theme (or the actual content) of the movie – and loathe it even more for it targeting 16-year olds.

Cheap trash, this one.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 18%

#1583 Halloween 2021: Star Crystal (1986)

You’ve seen the beginning of Star Crystal before: starship crew on a expedition on a remote planet (well not too remote, Mars) brings into the ship something containing an alien life form that gets quite unhappy with the humen aboard.

After a few goofy deaths with passable FX the movie seems to be all out of crew to sacrifice to the creature. But here is where the movie actually genre blends into an exploration of the inner life of the alien, who is now busy absorbing all the information of the humankind (good and bad) stored on the starship’s mainframe computer.

The change is unexpected and not without problems – the action totally plateaus just when you expect it to go into the next gear. But even if the movie turns into close encounters of the boring kind, I do applaud the film crew’s courage of wandering off the beaten path and trying something new.

It is the very only reason why the movie left any lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 63%

#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%

#1580 Halloween 2021: The Carrier (1988)

The Carrier depicts a small rural town where after being attacked by a creature, a local boy becomes a carrier of a strange disease that charges everything he touches with flesh eating powers invisible to the naked eye.

What happens after the town folk find out about the disease spread by an unknown culprit is where The Carrier really gets interesting. A wave of panic and paranoia ensues; people try to cover up with whatever plastic bags they can find, turning the town into kind of a current day version of Mad Max. The disease is horrible – but even more frightening is the way it turns people against each other, not tearing through, but completely wiping out the fabric of the society overnight.

The Carrier was a truly pleasant surprise that successfully plans together horror and social commentary (not forgetting the very obvious comedy aspect). This is the unexpected sleeper 80s hit of this Halloween.

80s-o-meter: 57%

Total: 91%

#1579 Halloween 2021: Primal Rage (1988)

Bo Svenson became the unexpected antagonist star of this Halloween. His hard boiled detective character levelled up Night Warning, and in Primal Rage he plays a scientist that whips up a virus that causes people becoming berserk killers.

Primal Rage is an Italian production shot in Miami, but it does not show at all, and the production quality is right up there with similar Hollywood movies. As a movie it’s bit off an uphill and downhill ride: the title and the video cover are great, and the movie shows a lot of promise, but does not quite redeem any of its promises.

The last 20 minutes of the movie is actually pretty entertaining (including a totally hilarious ending), and redeem a lot of its earlier shortcomings.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 68%

#1578 Halloween 2021: The Power (1984)

Movies can be like a hand of poker. The bluff you in with an alluring poster, interesting premise and a strong beginning, but as the story progresses, it becomes quite clear that they’re playing with an empty hand.

With The Power the directors Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow have an ace-high. The plot of a evil Aztec doll giving people great power but destroying them in exchange is a spinoff of a classic Faust pact-with-a-devil tale, but instead of expanding or taking the concept to the next level The Power seems to just lose the very essence of the classic story in translation.

The very movie-like atmosphere and special effects in a good tradition of 80s horror cinema manage to partially redeem the movie, but in the end it’s just too little, too late.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 58%