#766 Halloween 2017: Night of the Creeps (1986)

One of those movies that I’ve avoided watching for a long while, out of fear that it couldn’t meet my expectations, I’m happy to say that all my fears were unfounded: Night of the Creeps is a gem of a movie!

Night of the Creeps first found its way to the finnish video rental stores as a heavily cut version and ignited a lot of speculation with the youth of the time of an uncut version circling around somewhere, and this cult status followed it throughout the 90s.

Night of the Creeps is an almost perfect combination of comedy and horror – and even some elements of scifi thrown in the mix as well – and as a living dead movie it’s up there with the greats like Return of the Living Dead and Dead Heat.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 98%

#765 Halloween 2017: 976-Evil (1988)

Considering that Robert Englund had very much become a household name for horror as Freddy in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, his directorial debut 976-Evil surprisingly lacks some essential ingedients to make a quality horror movie.

First of all, the movie is pretty low on scares. Secondly, as soon as the movie lead gets possessed by the evil, we kind of lose our protagonist there, leaving the audience with no-one to root for for the second half of the movie, effectively making the movie sort of a revenge porn instead of horror.

Stephen Geoffreys pretty much reprises his role from Fright Night, playing a nerdy character who finds himself empowered by the forces of the evil. While the performance here falls short of the other one, it’s still Geoffreys’ and his ability to create these somewhat of their trolley, but still much likeable characters that make this movie worth your time.

Even with its obvious shortcomings, 976-Evil is professionally executed movie that may unspectacular – but never dull.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 70%

#764 Halloween 2017: Killer Party (1986)

Killer Party seems to be two different movies rolled together as one. The first half of the movie is a lighthearted fraternity comedy with a few small spooks here and there. After that we have an almost The Exorcist like portion of the movie where all the killings happen. Both halves are fairly well made, the biggest difference being that the comedic part is utterly trivial, and the horror part manages to show a lot of potential.

And herein lies my gripe with the movie. Instead of mixing and matching they really should’ve cut the comedy part short and rely more on the horror part, which seems stronger of the two. Although the overall viewing experience is surprisingly professionally made and fluid, the problem with parts that don’t meet follows the movie through. At the start of the movie we are presented with not one, but two different prologues that have nothing to do with the rest of the movie and there are numerous of sub-plots that don’t really contribute to anything.

The fans of Paul Bartel might be interested to know he makes a brief visit as the Professor Zito in one of the unrelated plot loose ends.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 82%

#763 Halloween 2017: Return of the Living Dead II (1988)

The sequel – this time written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn – follows the look and feel of the original movie closely, and does not wander too far away from the winning formula. In this case the decision applaudable, making Return of the Living Dead II worth watching, even if it is the weaker movie of the two.

James Karen and Thom Mathews, the hilarious screaming and moaning duo from the first movie return as completely new characters here as if the events in the first movie never took place, but the movie thankfully acknowledges this by joking openly about it.

Some of the familiar reanimated cadavers – like the modernised version of the Tarman – are back, but the sequel falls behind the original in the overall quality of the effects, never surpassing its three year older big brother. The sequel trades in some of its quality to quantity by marching huge armies of living dead on the screen, ending up with a much less memorable array of baddies.

The series would go on to spawn three more sequels, one in 1993 and two in 2005, all of which are mostly unrelated to these eighties originals.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 82%

#762 Halloween 2017: The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

The Return of the Living Dead is a riot.

Starting off with an ’official’ statement that all of the the events seen in the movie are true, it soon follows with a totally outrageous story of a misplaced army canister leaking out experimental gas capable of waking up the dead. Starting off as an unfortunate effect in a small warehouse soon gets out of hand as the substance spreads out, effectively waking up a cemetery full of cadavers, all hungry for brains.

I love the way the movie goes all in with everything it does, the effects are not only done exceptionally well, but they’re also visually pleasing and memorable. The meat locked cadaver, Tarman, army of the living dead and the ’do you wanna party’ skeleton all beat the often poor, potato sack over the head antagonists many films try pass as a horror effect. Much of this outrageous genius must be credited to the director Dan O’Bannon – better known as the writer of Alien and Total Recall – whose pet project the movie was.

The Return of the Living Dead is a rare masterpiece that manages to hit the perfect spot between horror and comedy. If you still haven’t seen it, consider this your cue to do it!

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 98%

#761 Halloween 2017: Neon Maniacs aka Evil Dead Warriors (1986)

Let’s get this out of the way: Neon Maniacs’s plot is a total nonsense.

A gang of ghoulies start spawning from under the Golden Gate bridge and start killing people – mostly young – around San Francisco. These creatures are straight out of carnival kind of goofy looking, and as is it turns out they can be killed using nothing but just plain old water. No Oscar winning material here.

Fortunately this nonsense is executed with a top notch B-movie style in the best tradition of the 80s: There’s gory and gooey effects the Neon Maniacs melting, parties and cheesy musical performances, all of which make otherwise mediocre Neon Maniacs a fun and rememberable slasher horror movie that offers a refreshing twist on this sometimes very tired genre.

80s-o-meter: 90%


#760 Halloween 2017: Zombie High (1987)

Zombie High joins the rank of horror comedies that are dark in their humor and rarely wander off to being too silly and trivial. The movie is also very aware that the concept of a boarding school run by a staff who’s reached immortality through harvesting life-sustaining chemicals from the students’ brains is kind of a far fetch, but manages to tell the story in a fashion that lures the viewer to play along with the gag, if not to completely buy it.

The movie is pretty low on frights, and could’ve milked lots of additional shock value out of its ’everyone is involved’ theme that is very briefly visited during the police station scene. The light-hearted social commentary about lively young people being turned to zombies that wear suits, carry briefcases and go on with the lives as a very successful drones is delightful one, especially with the small gag in the few last seconds to the film.

Although the script doesn’t provide her much to work with, Virginia Madsen, who’s playing the protagonist here, stands head and shoulders above your average, totally forgettable B-movie actresses, and really brings the movie up a notch or two.

Zombie High is a nifty little horror comedy that will keep you easily entertained – but probably not spooked – during its 90 minutes runtime.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 70%

#759 Halloween 2017: Transformations aka Alien Transformations (1988)

By pure coincidence, Transformations is the second movie in a row featuring a succubus in its story. While in Deadly Blessing we heard warnings about such demonic spirit, here we actually see one taking a female form to infect a lonely space traveller with a deadly disease, who then goes on to cause an epidemy on a distant mining colony located somewhere in the outer edges of the galaxy.

As a result of mediocre cinematography and set design Transformations can never establish the outer space planetary location and shake off its strong shot-in-a-studio look and feel, which brings the experience down quite a bit. That – coupled with the camera zoom-ins and subpar acting – make the overall experience clumsy, but not quite enough to warrant involuntary, campy humour.

The movie does has a very admirable underdog tone to it that kept me rooting for it for quite a while. Unfortunately there is no actual payoff here, and the end of the movie is just as lukewarm as the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 52%

#758 Halloween 2017: Deadly Blessing (1981)

Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessing is often seen as a transitional work between his 1977 horror classic The Hills Have Eyes and the huge commercial success that followed with A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s an original, professional but not mainstream experiment suffering from a slight identity crisis.

In Deadly Blessing Craven has all the right pieces set up, but when the show really starts, he’s not quite sure how to put them all together to make a solid story. There’s an interesting concept of a strict religious group with a strong leader (Ernest Borgnine) and his rebellious son (Jeff East) clashing together and the latter tightroping between the tempting freedom and being shunned out of the community. This intriguing tension alone would’ve been enough to craft a tight thriller.

Instead, Deadly Blessing tries to plaster on a horror element in form of spiders, snakes, tales of succubi and such. These never quite seem to stick with what’s seen on the silver screen, leaving the viewer puzzled what exactly to make of all this. Especially the ending seems weak, and a lost possibility considering the vast possibilities here.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 62%

#757 Halloween 2017: Cellar Dweller (1988)

Playing like an elongated episode of The Twilight Zone or Amazing Stories, Cellar Dweller presents us with a far fetched concept of comic book drawings taking a life of their own and killing residents in an art colony.

Jeffrey Combs known from the cult classics Re-animator and From Beyond makes a brief visit as the original Cellar Dweller comic book artist killed in the very first minutes of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 58%

#756 Halloween 2017: The Gate (1987)

A rare canadian movie to make it to the blog, The Gate is a horror adventure about two kids opening up a hole to another dimension in their backyard, causing hordes of demons spawning out and breaking havoc.

The movie is fairly well done underdog, beating many Hollywood movies in their own game. While the stop motion demon gnomes reek of a low budget, the zombie construction worker opening portals by walking through the walls boasts a convincing makeup and has just the right amount of spookiness to him that suits the movie perfectly.

Strictly speaking The Gate is not a horror movie, but more like a ghost story done with a Spielbergian touch. Therefore, how much you will actually enjoy the movie pretty much boils down to how in touch you are with your 12-year old self that still enjoys videogame-like end boss fights.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 71%

#755 Halloween 2017: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow is an intensive, palm sweating ride that doesn’t really hold back. Shot on a location in Haiti, the movie wonderfully captures the essence of steamy voodoo huts, black magic and colorful potions mixed with the whole spectrum of local people, politics, nature and fauna.

The story follows a scientist visiting Haiti in hopes of learning the secrets of a potion able to turn its victims into a paralysed dead alive, seemingly dead but still alive, and he soon realises he’s dealing with forces beyond his grasp. The movie constantly tightropes on the fine line between dream and nightmare, with every scene capable going either way. The scene with the zombie midget bride is one of the eeries scenes I’ve seen this halloween, and one that will surely haunt me for some time.

It’s only in the last few meters of the movie that it looses its core focus and resorts to some needless screen effects that don’t really match up with the quality seen before in the movie. Even so, The Serpent and the Rainbow is regarded by many as Craven’s best – and I’m inclined to agree.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 86%

#754 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

The last Friday the 13th movie of the decade, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan falls in the category of being yet another failure of a sequel, but at least failing in a refreshingly new way by taking the franchise on board to a boat, and finally to the big apple. Which is good news – I really couldn’t have stomached another cabin full of kids ending tits up around the Crystal Lake again.

Jason we see this time around is cunning and witty, and somehow again seems more like an ordinary, breathing human being wearing a mask rather than the supreme being seen in the previous two movies. A few years tied to the bottom of a lake can do one wonders, I guess.

The boat ride part is pretty average without much surprises, dragging on for far too long and it’s only in the last 20 minutes of the movie that we actually get to the Manhattan, which provides a much more interesting setting for the movie. The few interesting minutes of the movie are over soon and finished with an insignificant ending that leaves a lot to be desired. As the end credits rolled I just wished Jason’s visit to the New York City would’ve been just a little bit longer.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 62%

#753 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th Part VII The New Blood (1988)

I don’t have to tell you that six sequels in seven years to any movie is downright ridiculous. But, here we go..

Friday the 13th Part VII The New Blood starts when Jason, trapped to the bottom of the lake gets freed by a young woman with psychokinetic powers, and is soon on the killing spree once again. Compared to Jason Lives, the Part 7 is a big step back to the generic slasher world – including many obligatory pairs of nude tits – and ends up even much less insignificant than the previously weakest parts 3 and 4. Thanks to MPAA the movie is very low on gore, and the whole cast is so unbelievably trivial I found myself rooting for Jason this time around.

That is, when I wasn’t yawning while the movie dragged on like a sloth on valium.

Gone are the action and the playfulness of the previous movie, replaced by inane, tired clichés like cats giving jump scares, leaving The New Blood a totally irrelevant, piss poor slasher.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 9%

#752 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th Part VI Jason Lives (1986)

The endless stream of unimaginative Friday 13th sequels finally pays of with Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI .

The movie starts strong right off the bat with an atmospheric cemetery scene showing maggot ridden Jason resurrecting from the grave. The following events that unravel throughout the night aren’t necessarily scarier than before, but at least they’re told in a very entertaining fashion in formula that feels refreshingly different from the previous movies. Even the obligatory stream of nude tits are gone in this sequel and the undead Jason now feels a stronger character than ever before and gets a decent amount of well deserved screentime.

There’s a whole lot more of action this time around with actual fire fights and car chases not unlike some of the Halloween movies. The humor is also more apparent here – and it’s luckily of the sort that doesn’t feel out of place or distracting at all.

Jason lives was the first Friday the 13th after the original one that I really felt being entertained by and remains the only one in the series I would definitely watch again.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 82%

#751 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th Part V A New Beginning (1985)

A kickstart to a ’new’ series of Friday the 13th movies less than one year after the death of Jason, Friday the 13th A New Beginning is the first movie of the series trying to add a bit of something new to the mix.

Still, it’s very tired movie. Production values are again a step up from the previous movie, but the fact that the movie is a formulaic design crafted only to milk the existing franchise just shines through every crack and creak of the movie. New characters are introduced in a mind boggling rate, with the only purpose to see them killed just a few moments later. While there could’ve been some limited entertainment to the comedically graphic kills, almost all of them are cut short to meet the MPAA ”R” rating.

The cheap scares seen in the previous movie are fortunately gone here. Friday the 13th A New Beginning is a pure slasher with precisely timed kills happening mind-numbingly fast and often, with really nothing in the movie to make it memorable.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 48%

#750 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th Part IV The Final Chapter (1984)

Marketed to be the last movie of the series, Friday the 13th 4 The Final Chapter forgets all the 3D nonsense seen in the previous movie and returns to the old formula. Considering the rankness of the third installation, this can only be a step up.

Since Kevin Bacon was seen in the first Friday the 13th movie, the serie hasn’t featured any well known actors. The Final Chapter is an exception in this sense, starring both Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman, former of which performs one of the most memorable moments of the series so far in a form of an awesomely awkward living room dance routine.

The production quality has improved from the previous movie, and in this movie we finally see Jason in the form he is remembered in the popular culture. Otherwise the final part can’t really offer anything not already seen in the silver screen a thousand times before.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 60%

#749 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Friday the 13th Part III takes a different approach from the previous two movies, but not by coming up with a more inventive story line or by adding depth to the characters.

Instead, the movie throws in to the mix a bunch of useless gimmicks, like being shot in 3D. In practise this means pulling off some needless and distracting camera tricks just for the sake of playing around with the media. Thanks for the inferior format, the 2D transfer has a very blurry image that gets even softer towards the edges, resulting part three looking much more dated than both the previous two films.

Jason in this part seems to loan a lot from Halloween movies’ Michael Myers in his movement and appearance, and it’s probably not the only thing loaned here. The amount of staggeringly stupid jump scares pretty much sum the amount of the laziness and the unoriginality of the movie.

The only upside of the movie is Jason finally switching his pillow cover mask to the hockey mask, a simple piece of prop that soon became synonymous with the series.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 23%

#748 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

Although Jason – the antagonist of the Friday 13th series – is synonymous with the whole series, he is really properly introduced in Friday the 13th Part II, and this is the movie where he starts his mission of seriously harvesting the teenage population.

The premise of the Part II is basically the same than in the previous film. Five years after the events of the first movie a bunch of new kids gather at the cabin by the lake, and as expected they first get naked and soon get whacked off one by one. As a movie the sequel is more well rounded than the first movie – even preferred by many fans of the series – but on the other hand it lacks the cult status and the relative freshness of the first movie.

Here we see Jason still masqueraded with a pillow cover instead of his iconic hockey mask, which just doesn’t seem right if you’re set to watch a Friday the 13th movie. Comparisons to another well known slasher sequel released in 1981 are inevitable, and out of the two Halloween II comes out a clear winner.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 62%

#747 Halloween 2017: Friday the 13th (1980)

The movie that spawned whopping 7 sequels during the 80s, and even four more after that, Friday the 13th is probably the best known slasher of the 80s. Although not the first one of its kind, it’s the one that really established the concept of bunch of teens taking a holiday trip to a cabin in the woods and then getting them whacked off one by one, preferably while skinny dipping or having sex. This was all of course tailor made for the teenage audience that kept on flocking the cinemas year after year, making the franchise a whopping $464 million in the box office.

The new Bluray transfer has really given the movie a new life, and the movie looks looks far less aged and musty than the last time I saw it over 10 years ago. If you’ve seen the film before on VHS or DVD, watching it again in a digital format is recommendable, if only for curiosity.

Friday the 13th is the great grandfather of the 80s slashers and even if it’s not my favorite movie of its genre, it obviously belongs to the list of must watch horror movies of the era.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 70%