#1703 Halloween 2022: The Demons of Ludlow (1983)

As per usual there hasn’t been a side of crappy horror movies this year either, and The Demons of Ludlow falls in there somewhere between bad and totally useless.

So there’s basically a haunted automatic piano and villagers getting attacked by people dressed in 19th century clothes apparently living inside the said piano – and it is all as lame as it sounds.

The Demons of Ludlow misses its mark pretty much on all ends, and does not even provide an intentional humour for those looking for giggles and laughs.

80s-o-meter: 1%

Total: 7%

#1701 Halloween 2022: Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II aka The Haunting of Hamilton High (1987)

Canada produced a number of horror movies in the 80s, many of them mimicking having being shot in USA. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is one of these movies that deserve their place in this blog for a number of reasons. Shot as an independent movie but renamed as a sequel to the 1980 slasher Prom Night after being purchased by Samuel-Goldwyn Company, the movie really makes a good imitation of a an USA movie of the era, looking and feeling as American as an apple pie.

But first and foremostly: it is a solid horror movie in the best tradition of the 80s – and while not the most scariest movie out there, it is definitely one of the most entertaining ones.

The movie plays with many cliches successfully, but really finds its one tone of voice, and never feels tired of forced. The school party night is a great setting for the movie and only gets better with imaginative kills, dancing corpses and the always awesome Michael Ironside as the school principal thrown into the mix, making Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II one hard movie to pass.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 87%

#1700 Halloween 2022: Twice Dead (1988)

Here’s what I’m always looking forward with every movie I put in my VCR to be watched for this blog: a movie that just oozes 80s in some wonderful way.

This definitely holds true with Twice Dead that delivers wonderfully all that 80s goodness a bit in the vein of The Return of the Living Dead, although in a bit less outrageous fashion. The story of a Colorado family moving into a house possessed by ghost of an old is non-sensical, but all that’s besides the point anyway as nobody is here for that: the real entertainment factor of Twice Dead is all in its stereotypes and overall cheesiness.

It’s no The Return of the Living Dead, but those who enjoyed it will likely find themselves right at home the Twice Dead.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 80%

#1699 Halloween 2022: The Oracle (1985)

The Oracle is a movie with an interesting idea – a woman finding an automatic writing device called The Oracle, which she uses to speak with the spirit world. What follows is a complex plot about her being contacted by a murdered man who demands justice for his death that is often hard to follow and doesn’t always make sense.

Production wise the movie is of an ok quality and has some visually captivating elements, notably the haunting hand holding a quill writing words on paper that should have had even more central piece in the movie in my opinion – instead of focusing on a thousand other, less interesting and spooky aspects.

The Oracle takes place during the Christmas season, which adds a nice thematic touch for those in the holiday spirit.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 55%

#1692 Halloween 2022: Ghost Riders aka Ghostriders (1987)

A gang of vicious outlaws from wild west era arrive to current day to shoot at a family whose forefather was involved in hanging their leader.

While the title of the movie gets the imagination running, the execution itself is much more on the boring side: the antagonists appear just as regular cowboys with unshaved shins and shoot at their victims from a distance, and could have as well been a local gang of drunkards.

Ghost Riders gets the menacing feeling right at times, but much of a horror movie this ain’t, despite the supernatural theme.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 35%

#1688 Halloween 2022: Retribution aka Retribution: The Ultimate Nightmare (1987)

A good reminder to never judge a book by its cover, Retribution was the movie I looked the least forward to seeing this year after having seen its less than stellar poster a few times before.

Right off the bat the movie feels off and twisted, but in a good way. After surviving a suicide attempt a sympathetic artist George starts to experience violent nightmares leading to people getting killed. But it’s most interestingly a good an interesting array of well written characters and their often warm relationship with each other that makes Retribution stand out.

But, the movie also delivers in the horror aspect. The violent dreamlike episodes feel quite effective in contrast to the quiet and serene nature of the movie. This extends to the very end of the movie that delivers on all aspects of a first class horror movie.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 87%

#1687 Halloween 2022: Play Dead aka Killer dog aka Satan’s Dog (1983)

Perhaps the saddest concept for a movie this Halloween, Play Dead tries to sell us the concept of old madame doing some voodoo magic in her home and sending her dog to plot and carry out imaginative killings on her enemies.

It’s a stupid premise executed in a poor and uninteresting way.I can’t imagine the movie being able to entertain or scare anyone in 1983, let alone today.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 5%

#1686 Halloween 2022: Nightwish (1989)

I was hoping to come across at least one interesting horror movie within this year, and it was formerly unknown to me Nightwish (not the be mixed up with a Finnish symphonic metal band of the same name) that unexpectedly managed to provide if not all, then at least much of something original and different to keep my interest up this Halloween.

Mixing elements of thriller, horror, exorcism, monster movies and even a flair of sci-fi together, Nightwish starts off quite safe and even boring, but ventures on to many uncharted territories in its dream like episodes of a group of graduate students trying to escape from a house possessed by an unknown force while being detained by a derailed professor.

Nightwish gets weirder and weirder towards the end – but always in a good and entertaining way. The final events might have been super banal in every other context, but given that Nightwish still is campy 80s horror by its nature, coupled with the fact that the movie plays this card quite well the ending turns out in a satisfying fashion. Sure, there were tons of aspects that I did not like or care for like the henchman of the antagonist professor, and it’s these aspects for which I have to demerit a few points from otherwise surprisingly entertaining movie.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 83%

#1685 Halloween 2022: The Final Conflict aka Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)

A sequel to the two earlier Omen movies, released in 1976 and 1978 respectively, Omen III: The Final Conflict picks up the story when Damien, the satanic child, has now grown up and has gotten highly successful as a politician. It’s behind this facade that he works in shadows, running his own cult, eliminating those who stand in his way, attempting to find and kill a reborn Jesus baby, all while while trying to dodge the attacks of monk brotherhood trying to kill him using a set of sacred daggers.

The movie kicks off in a quite graphic and effective way with a scene of a politician resigning to make way for Damien to become the new American ambassador in UK. But it’s after this that movie defaults to quite average and uninspired depiction of good vs bad with a bits of bible as well as occultism thrown into the mix and does not grow nearly as menacing or intimidating that I’d hoped for.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 61%

#1683 Halloween 2022: Beyond Dream’s Door (1989)

Horror as a genre is something that seems to attract indie movie makers, and the results are often more clumsy and weird rather than scary.

Beyond Dream’s Door, a brainchild of an Ohio based director/writer Jay Woelfel is interesting due to its team of unknown actors and inexperienced crew being able create something that looks and feels like an actual movie. Woelfel’s directing is surprisingly solid, and the camera drives never feel odd or off, but rather professional throughout. The movie’s story of nightmares coming alive and haunting is interesting, and as the reality and dream world get mixed up together, the movie manages to capture the weird atmosphere it was going for in the first place.

But the story gets far too convoluted for its own good, and the monster effects – as nice as they are for an indie movie – must’ve worked much better in VHS tape hooked up to a CRT television rather than modern high resolution TV sets.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 60%

#1669 Apprentice to Murder (1988)

A US-Norwegian-Canadian co-production Apprentice to Murder portrays of Pennsylvanian folk healer and his apprentice getting far too deep into dark powers of their craft in a story that very successfully blurs the line between real and make-belief, wrong and right, and good and bad.

I was surprised to learn the movie was shot entirely in Norway, so my hat is off to the production team who very skilfully concealed this fact, and totally sold me the location of 1920s Pennsylvania.

Although shot in mainstream Hollywood fashion, Apprentice to Murder (apparently based on a real historic event) is a very untypical movie but in a good way. It boldly goes quite deep into religious fanaticism, dark sides of human psyche and superstition.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 72%

#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%