Cat People (1982)

Directed by Paul Schrader [Other horror films: Witch Hunt (1994), Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)]

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Cat People, which I saw somewhat recently for the first time, but I honestly thought this was a bit worse. I get that some of the special effects are solid, and there’s some great nudity here, but it’s an almost two-hour films, and boy, did I think it dragged at times.

As far as the cast went, I liked most of them. Nastassja Kinski was pretty cute, and did well as the star. Annette O’Toole (who surprised me turning up here, as I know her only from 1990’s It) was also cute, and as both Kinski and O’Toole have topless scenes (though unfortunately not at the same time), you’d think the movie would get a 10. Alas, that’s not the case.

Malcolm McDowell (who I barely even recognized, but was much later in the Halloween remake, not to mention Silent Night) didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t care much at all for his character, and to me, he was one of the low points of the movie. Ed Begley Jr. is a big name, but I know him only from a single episode of The West Wing, along with a short role in Better Call Saul. Here, he was okay, but much like McDowell, I didn’t much care for his character.

It’s not just a handful of characters, though, that was the problem. The story overall leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Kinski did a great job as playing a sympathetic character, but her story arc ends in a way that I really didn’t like. I didn’t love the original, like I said, but even that was a bit more satisfactory than this was.

About the pool scene, on a side-note. I do think the original movie did the sequence better, but, and this is a big but, the original didn’t have a topless O’Toole, so as classic as it was, this might just edge it out insofar as rewatchability goes, amiright?

To be honest, I just found Cat People a generally dull remake. The movie isn’t terrible, but it wasn’t my type of thing, and while it had some solid nudity, which I can’t overstate, that doesn’t make up for the fact that I didn’t care for the story, which is the fatal problem here.

5/10

Turkey Shoot (1982)

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith [Other horror films: Dead End Drive-In (1986), Out of the Body (1989), Night of the Demons 2 (1994), Leprechaun 3 (1995), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996), Atomic Dog (1998), Sightings: Heartland Ghost (2002)]

This Australian action/horror mix is generally a lot of fun, sort of in The Most Dangerous Game vein, only gory, which brought quite a bit of additional enjoyment to the film.

Taking place in a fascist government’s ‘re-education camp’ led by, get this, a guy named Thatcher (played by Michael Craig), the camp’s motto is ‘Freedom is obedience, obedience is work, work is life.’ Anyone who disagrees with the far-right government is thrown into this camp, along with ‘deviants,’ such as homosexuals, the poor, and anyone else the far-right hates.

I don’t know anything about Australian politics, but the film certainly seems topical from an American point of view, given the wide swings we’ve taken to the right since the 1980’s onward. I always appreciate when horror films (or, partial horror films, as Turkey Shoot often feels far more action-orientated) tackle politics, and this one did it well.

Ignoring the fascist government, which punishes homosexuality by death yet allows rape by the prison camp’s guards, Turkey Shoot has a lot to offer in terms of excitement and gore. It takes about thirty minutes or so for things to really pick up, but once they do, there’s little breathing room past that point, which I rather enjoyed.

Plenty of gory scenes were to be seen here, such as a great dismemberment sequence, along with decent machete action, crossbow action, a guy getting cut in half with a bulldozer, a spike trap obliterating someone, and a solid scene in which someone’s set on fire. There’s no shortage of violence here, or potential violence (as the scene in which Olivia Hussey’s character is almost raped multiple times), and it’s definitely action-packed.

There were a few elements I didn’t care for, or felt out of place, such as a gorilla-type monster being used by one of the characters. The make-up was decent, but it just felt a bit too outlandish to me. That said, overall, the movie works, and a lot of that is due to the multiple solid performances.

Admittedly, I wasn’t overly excited with Olivia Hussey’s (perhaps best known as Audra from the 1990 television adaptation of Stephen King’s It) character for most of the film, but toward the end, she started becoming useful, and all worked out. Steve Railsback (who I saw just a few days ago in the 1985 Lifeforce) was a rather good leading character. Roger Ward and Michael Craig made a great pair of antagonists, Ward especially with his threatening appearance. Three others I liked include Bill Young, Michael Petrovitch, and Noel Ferrier.

I can imagine that some horror fans may be hard-pressed to consider this in the same genre as Halloween, but horror comes in many forms, and many people see different things as fitting into the genre. I don’t personally have a problem counting Turkey Shoot, or similar movies, such as The Most Dangerous Game or Battle Royale, as horror, but definitely don’t go into this one expecting something in the more traditional vein.

As Turkey Shoot stands, I think it’s a very solid Australian film, and it definitely exceeded my admittedly low expectations when it came to gore. With solid action and plenty of violence, Turkey Shoot was certainly worth watching, and I’d recommend it to fans of action-orientated horror flicks.

8.5/10

Alone in the Dark (1982)

Directed by Jack Sholder [Other horror films: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), The Hidden (1987), Natural Selection (1994), Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999), Arachnid (2001), 12 Days of Terror (2004)]

This is one of those films that I first saw so long ago that it came across as mostly new with this recent rewatch. I did remember one of the most important scenes near the end, but that didn’t really impact my enjoyment here, and Alone in the Dark is certainly a movie I enjoy quite a bit.

I’ve heard it said by a few people before that Alone in the Dark is slow-moving, and while that might be true (a bulk of the action doesn’t really hit until the finale), I found it engaging and enjoyable the whole way through, much of it likely due to the surprisingly large amount of worthwhile performances here.

You have three maniacs, played by Jack Palance (Without Warning and Man in the Attic), Martin Landau (ditto Without Warning), and Erland van Lidth, Donald Pleasence (Halloween) playing a rather amusing doctor, Carol Levy as a hot babysitter named Bunky, and a family composed of daughter Elizabeth Ward, mother and father Deborah Hedwall and Dwight Schultz, and Schultz’s sister, Lee Taylor-Allan, who was one of the most fun characters here aside from Pleasence, Schultz, and Bunky, not to mention the maniacs.

I love the cast here, so while the action is a bit light at times, and the gore never comes close to what might expect from an early 80’s slasher, it doesn’t matter a bit, because I’m still having a fun time. That said, there can certainly be strong suspense present, such as the scenes in which the family’s trapped in the house by the maniacs. Also, while I did remember the little surprise at the end, that didn’t make it any less effective.

Alone in the Dark isn’t a favorite of mine, but it’s a very solid slasher from a fantastic period of horror. Pretty easy for me to rate highly, as I really find I enjoy this one.

8.5/10

This is one of the film’s covered on Fight Evil’s podcast – listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this movie.

One Dark Night (1982)

Directed by Tom McLoughlin [Other horror films: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), Sometimes They Come Back (1991), The Haunting of Helen Walker (1995)]

I don’t think that this early 80’s entry to the genre is all that special. I’ve seen it twice, and while I rather like the atmosphere and much of the story, I’m not entirely enamored by it. That said, it’s almost certainly worth a look if you’re a fan of 80’s horror, despite it not being amazing.

A good girl needing to spend a night in a mausoleum (because she just has to get into this sorority-type clique) where a recently-deceased telekinetic killer has been interred makes for a fun movie, despite there being a hell of a lot of set up. I don’t think any real action starts up until about an hour into the movie. That said, in it’s 80’s way, One Dark Night is still fun.

Meg Tilly isn’t a name I know (though she was later in Psycho II), but she does really admirably here, and I rather liked her somewhat adorable nature. This can also be said for Elizabeth Daily, who was the most hesitant of the sorority girls. She didn’t do that much past a certain point, but I enjoyed her time on-screen. Most others don’t make much of an impression, including Leslie Speights, Robin Evans, David Mason Daniels, and Melissa Newman. Obviously, Adam West was interesting to see, but he adds little to the movie.

The supernatural killer here is interesting, especially as he uses his powers to raise the corpses of the mausoleum to attack the girls. I’m not really big on the whole telekinetic killer thing, but it was sort of cool seeing him barely move yet able to cause such mayhem and horrific chaos. On a related note, the special effects are decent, especially toward the end, so kudos there.

One Dark Night isn’t really a classic in any sense, but it is harmless fun, despite the long set-up and somewhat shaky conclusion. For fans of 80’s horror, I don’t see a good reason not to give it a shot.

7.5/10

And for more, One Dark Night was covered on the Fight Evil podcast, so if you want to listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, enjoy.

Creepshow (1982)

Creepshow

Directed by George A. Romero [Other horror films: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Hungry Wives (1972), The Crazies (1973), The Amusement Park (1975), Martin (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), Monkey Shines (1988), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar’), The Dark Half (1993), Bruiser (2000), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), Survival of the Dead (2009)]

Creepshow’s an interesting movie to me, because while I actually only love two of the stories in this one (‘Something to Tide You Over’ and ‘The Crate’), I think overall the movie’s pretty excellent, and definitely excels in creating that comic book feeling, which so few movies can properly do.

‘Father’s Day’ and ‘The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill’ are both lacking in different ways. I certainly like the revenge aspect of the former, and I do enjoy the final scene, but it just doesn’t do it for me. As for the latter, I love the concept, and think the plant life looks rather creepy (and the ending is pretty good on multiple counts), but the overly comedic style of the story wasn’t something I’m fond of.

The final story, ‘They Creep Up on You’, is my third favorite, my main issue being that I felt they could have added in something along the lines of either the recent widow or the ghost of her husband somehow being connected to the onslaught of roaches (which would have worked well, since three of the past four stories in this movie have been about revenge in some form or another). I think it’s a fine story with solid effects, but it could have been better.

‘Something to Tide You Over’ isn’t a complex story, but I think it’s rather fun, mainly because of Leslie Nielsen’s great performance. His eccentric character is fun, and I love the final line (“I can hold my breath for a looooooonngg time”), and I reference it often. No one in ‘The Crate’ is as fun as Nielsen (though I do rather like Hal Holbrook), but it’s probably a better story overall.

There are some solid performances throughout. Obviously, I love Nielsen’s role, and he stands out as perhaps my favorite character. Hal Holbrook (who appeared in other classics such as Rituals from 1977 and The Fog from 1980) did great in his role also. E.G. Marshall, while his character is despicable, does great, as expected. Others who stood out positively include Tom Atkins, Ted Danson, and Viveca Lindfors. I love Stephen King’s writing, but his acting here, while intentional in it’s campiness, didn’t really work for me.

As far as anthology horror films go, there are better examples than Creepshow, such Tales from the Crypt (1972). Still, Creepshow is arguably much funner, and is a damn good example of a campy anthology done right. It’s not perfect, but there’s a lot to like about it, from the performances, to the animation, from the framing story (with a rather satisfactory ending), to the soundtrack. Not every story hits the mark, but it’s still a movie well-worth watching.

8.5/10

And this was also covered on Fight Evil’s podcast on the very first episode. Listen as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss the film.

Dark Sanity (1982)

Dark Sanitu

Directed by Martin Green [Other horror films: N/A]

This is a rather low-budget flick, and it’s drowning in unnecessary melodrama, but it’s not altogether a terrible movie. No doubt, though, is it definitely below average.

Having a main character with alcoholism was interesting, and adding a little something special to her character (while also adding drama that was a bit much). It’s this drama that holds the movie back, though, and it’s not just on the main character. The whole small subplot about the husband’s troubles at work strike me as entirely unnecessary, and though the conclusion to that was sort of funny, it didn’t really add much to the movie.

The main actress, Kory Clark, did decent playing a slightly more complex character than you might expect. Given that this was her only role in anything, I’d say she did a decent job. Aldo Ray was a genial presence, despite his rough background, and made the movie just a bit better by his pretty solid performance.

For a slasher, though, the main problem this movie has is it’s rather noticeable lack of kills, and when there are kills, there’s not much in the way of gore, or, more troubling, suspense. Also, while I sort of liked the route they went with who the killer turned out to be, it felt sort of soulless, as though it was just superficial and lacking something. Still, it tried, I’ll give it that.

Dark Sanity isn’t a terrible film, but there’s almost nothing here, aside from Ray’s presence, that really stands out one way or the other. Definitely on the lower-end of slashers from the early 80’s, I’d recommend that you pass on this, unless something about it seems to tickle your fancy.

5/10

Yin ji (1982)

Kung Fu

Directed by Chiu Lee [Other horror films: N/A]

Probably best known under the colorful title Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave, Yin ji is decently fun, though perhaps ends up being a bit longer than necessary. Still, the movie ends up around average, I’d say.

The story was simple and to the point, with not much really going on. A son seeks revenge for his father against a tyrant who rules with the help of a black magic sorcerer. There’s plenty of zombies/ghosts (technically, I guess they’d be jiangshi, or hopping vampires), dark magic (with beautifully ridiculous effects), and even an appearance from Count Dracula (who apparently knows kung fu).

The movie’s about as ridiculous and entertaining as you could probably imagine. The multiple fight sequences are all pretty fun, and there’s even a few creepy graveyard scenes (though the lighter tone the movie has doesn’t make tension or thrills the main point).

As far as the cast goes, there were mostly all solid, with the main character, played by Billy Chong, being the one most standing out. The over-the-top acting and kung fu sequences were all done well, though, so pretty much no one in the film was particularly bad. The somewhat atrocious dubbing helped also.

I’ve not seen that many kung fu films. Of the ones I can name (with the help of trusty IMDb), I’ve seen The Deadly Breaking Sword (or Feng liu duan jian xiao xiao dao, from 1979), Killer Constable (or Wan ren zan, from 1980), The Kid with the Golden Arm (Jin bi tong, from 1979), and, if you want to count it, The Sword of Swords (Shen dao, from 1968). I’ve seen some actual Hong Kong horror films, but none that have mixed in martial arts as heavily as this one.

Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave is pretty goofy at times, and it’s more light-hearted fun than anything really terrifying. It probably could have been cut by ten minutes, perhaps fifteen, and I think they could have given off the same effect. But it is a fun movie, so they certainly got that down. If you’re into this type of Asian horror, it may be worth a look.

7/10

The Toxic Slime Creature (1982)

Toxic Slime

Directed by Kenneth Zollo [Other horror films: N/A]

At the time I watched this (around March 2018), this movie came out of nowhere, and I’m guessing it must have been added to IMDb sometime within last six to eight months of that date – had it been there any longer, I would have ran into it (as I often scour IMDb for previously unknown horror flicks).

Straight to video (that much, the quality can attest to), The Toxic Slime Creature is such an obscurity I’ve thus far not found much information on it. A few sources call it an “extremely rare Vidimax release,” and that certainly seems plausible. The origins of this movie aside, let’s see how it actually is.

Made up of a limited cast (all of whom, at this point in time, have no additional credits on IMDb), this movie keeps things simple and to the point, going as far as only giving us brief, one-second glances of the titular slime creature at a time, which, given the special effects, is probably only a positive.

The only actor who really stood out was Charles Ward, whose character is one of the few who manages to keep calm throughout. Some of the dialogue is laughable (“How can it not have legs? What doesn’t have legs” being rebuffed by two suggestions, that of a snake and fish), but not as much as you might think going in.

With a run-time of just an hour (more like 57 minutes, truth be told), being holed up in an office most of the time and occasionally trying to fight the creature doesn’t make for an enthralling film, but even a banana held more dread than the climatic fight at the conclusion. There’s not that much to this movie, and it’s probably not worth seeing, but hell, it did possess some charm. At the very least, the title’s amusing.

6/10

The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Slumber Party Massacre

Directed by Amy Holden Jones [Other horror films: N/A]

My views on this film haven’t much changed since I last saw it.

It’s a quick-paced, fun, cheesy slasher movie. The 80’s soundtrack is both fun and nostalgic, and the female nudity is both memorable and captivating. At under 80 minutes, this movie doesn’t take long for things to begin happening, and given that the story’s moderately paper-thin, that’s only a positive.

The killer is a bit uninspired, but I do like the his choice of weaponry, being a drill. Gore throughout the film is pretty good, and given the quick-paced nature of the movie, it really doesn’t seem like all that long a time.

The Slumber Party Massacre is a simple movie, and while most of the characters are decent, none of them really stand out (though the neighbor, played by Rigg Kennedy, is a damn cool cat), it’s a fun movie that is always a good time. Not a long review, but don’t really have much to say. A good slasher worth watching.

7.5/10