The Hunger (1983)

Directed by Tony Scott [Other horror films: N/A]

After reading the description to this film on my TV, I expected to hate it. No use denying it – I read the plot and immediately grew disinterested. I wasn’t entirely tuned out, though, and I watched the whole film, because I’m not going to ignore a movie simply because it’s not my cup of tea. It’s also a decently-rated film.

Still, I hated this.

The first ten minutes are horrible, the next hour is slow as fuck, brahs, and the rest is also horrible. I mean, sure, you have a few pretty good and emotional scenes (such as Miriam putting John to rest), and there was that almost-sensual lesbian scene (I say almost because I don’t find Catherine Deneuve that attractive), but for the most part, this was not my type of movie at all.

Deneuve (famous for her role in Repulsion) did okay as the vampire woman. I mean, she was obviously a terrible person, so I did enjoy the end (and in fact, that ending was perhaps one of the best parts of the film), but she did a good job in the performance. I don’t know Susan Sarandon that well, aside from the fact she endorsed Jill Stein in 2016, which is who I voted for, so maybe her heart’s in the right place, but here, I thought her character lacked, well, character. She had a nice chest, but a boring character.

Cliff De Young (Dr. Giggles) is only here so I can link Dr. Giggles in the future. Seriously, De Young was okay, but like Sarandon, I didn’t get a great sense of character from him at all. Beth Ehlers didn’t appear much, but she did give us another one of the few high-points in the film when her character meets a somewhat surprising death. Kudos there.

Also, I have to talk a bit about David Bowie. I know some people, when they read this, won’t believe me, but I can’t control what hypothetical people do or do not believe – I cannot think of a single song by David Bowie. I don’t know a thing about him. When I try to think of a Bowie song, I either think of Phil Collins or Elton John. Am I close? I don’t know – I’ve possibly never heard a David Bowie song in my life, and if I have, I definitely didn’t know Bowie was the artist.

All of that is to say that I have only this movie to judge him on, and you know what? His performance was pretty good. It was also easily the most emotional part of the film, and the aforementioned scene in which Deneuve’s character is saying her final goodbyes to Bowies’ an exceptionally strong scene in an otherwise waste of a movie.

Is this stated a bit strongly? I don’t know. This movie, for as long as I’ve known about it, has been rated well on IMDb, and I knew beforehand it might not be my type of movie, so maybe it’s unfair that I went into this one with the intention of rating it at the end. But I did, and I thought it was just awful, probably among one of my least favorite horror films of the 1980’s. Watch it if it sounds like your thing.

4/10

Videodrome (1983)

Directed by David Cronenberg [Other horror films: Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), The Dead Zone (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1991), eXistenZ (1999), Crimes of the Future (2022)]

David Cronenberg is a director I have a difficult time with. I respect much of the work I’ve seen from him, and Videodrome is no exception, but few of his movies are films I’d actually call enjoyable, and again, Videodrome is no exception.

It’s not for lack of trying, either – I’ve now seen Videodrome something like four, perhaps five, times. I’ve consistently not loved it, and though many of the visual elements are great, and certainly some of the ideas within the movie are worthy of praise, as a whole package, this movie feels more like a mess.

To be fair, much of this is due to the fact that I simply don’t understand exactly what’s going on. “Long live the New Flesh” is a fun saying and all, but what exactly is the “new flesh,” and how does Bianca O’Blivion’s “new flesh” differ from Barry Convex’s “new flesh”? Brian O’Blivion is interesting, no doubt, and I found his appearance on the talk show quite amusing, but his philosophical ramblings, devoid of any practicality, wasn’t my idea of a good time.

Certainly, science fiction that challenges the viewer with new and sometimes befuddling concepts isn’t something that need be a problem. Much like Triangle, though, I just don’t get exactly what’s going on in this movie (and especially toward the end, which I guess isn’t really the end for Woods’ character, just the end of his arc in his current flesh?), and when a movie has great special effects but a troublingly confusing story, that’s a bit of an issue for me.

Like I said, this isn’t something I went into blind – it’s a movie that I’ve seen multiple times. I was actually hoping for a bit more enlightenment this time around, since before now, I’ve not seen this one in quite a long time. Nothing doing, though, which, while that might be a shortcoming on a personal level, I can’t pretend that doesn’t impact my views on the film.

I don’t have that much to say about the performances. I think that James Woods is decent here (and during the talk-show about violence on television, I tended to agree with everything he was laying out), though not really a stand-out performance. Debbie Harry played one of the more interesting characters (for the screen-time she had), and I certainly wouldn’t have minded learning more about Jack Creley’s Brian O’Blivion, but others fell somewhat flat, such as Sonja Smits and Peter Dvorsky. Overall, there wasn’t much to be amazed by as far as the actors and actresses go, but that’s not really a big issue, as that’s not really what this movie was going for.

What it was going for, or at least by far the most memorable thing about the film, was the special effects, which were pretty solid throughout. Obviously there are some very striking scenes (such as a head going into a television screen, and a man poking his hand into a slit in his stomach), and it’s certainly impressive, but I can’t say that it necessarily made up for any of the perceived issues I had with the story.

In many ways, Videodrome is a cult classic that just never did it for me. I certainly respect the film, but like many of the Cronenberg movies I’ve seen (The Brood being the first that comes to mind), the focus on body horror just doesn’t appeal to me. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that the only Cronenberg movie I actually enjoyed was Shivers, also known as They Come From Within, though of course that may change once I finally get around to watching Rabid or Scanners.

Videodrome is a movie that’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of classic horror or science fiction, and especially if you enjoy off-the-wall movies that make you think. It’s just not something I’ve ever really liked, and as such, have to throw it a below average rating, no matter how much that damns me in the eyes of some.

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Videodrome.

Frightmare (1983)

Directed by Norman Thaddeus Vane [Other horror films: The Black Room (1982), Midnight (1989), You’re So Dead (2007)]

Funny story – I saw this one once before many years back, but upon watching it for the second time, literally all of this seems new to me, which goes to show that I was either distracted when I first watched it or Frightmare is a pretty forgettable film. Truth be told, it’s probably a combination of the two.

The best thing about this one is a decapitation toward the end of the movie. Oh, also a young Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator and From Beyond) appears. Otherwise, though, Frightmare is pretty much a mess with little going for it.

I can’t say that the atmosphere wasn’t okay at times, but there’s only so much an 80’s aura can do when the story itself suffers, and ultimately it didn’t help much here. It’s the weak story here that was the biggest problem, and boy, does it drag at times.

Also, it’s rather nonsensical. So, I sort of get why fans of a recently-deceased movie star would abduct his corpse, but – no, wait, I don’t get that. This might be unnecessary to say, but stealing the corpse of anyone seems pretty damn disrespectful, and these kids don’t seem interested in honoring the recently-deceased Conrad Radzoff whatsoever.

Once the action starts up, there’s not a whole lot in the way of memorable kills. Like I said, the decapitation is pretty solid, and there was a pyrokinetic kill, but the tongue scene wasn’t near as fun as you’d hope it’d be, and most of the others were just somewhat baffling (especially the way in which Scott Thomson’s death was cut).

Ferdy Mayne did a solid job as playing a hammy, Christopher Lee/Bela Lugosi rip-off, and he’s probably one of the few commendable performances here. Otherwise, we’re stuck with Luca Bercovici, Jennifer Starrett, and Donna McDaniel. Jeffrey Combs was nice to see, no doubt, but he didn’t particularly stand out here, and our eye candy in Carlene Olson is barely memorable at all.

This one may sound like an 80’s flick that might be worth checking out based on plot alone, but that is really not the case, as Frightmare is truthfully pretty forgettable. Obviously, see it for yourself, by all means, but I would really not go into this one expecting an unseen masterpiece.

5.5/10

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

Curtains (1983)

Directed by Richard Ciupka [Other horror films: N/A]

I’ve seen Curtains perhaps three times now, and while I’ve liked it quite a bit in the past, I’m struggling to remember exactly why. There’s some solid scenes here, and there’s occasionally an atmosphere to be envious of, but overall, there are so many better slashers from the 1980’s that this Canadian movie really doesn’t have much a chance to compete.

Only two performances really stood out (John Vernon and Lynne Griffin), perhaps three (Samantha Eggar) if I’m really stretching. Vernon was a bit overbearing at times, but his performance as a strict director was decent. Eggar did pretty well, especially near the beginning during the asylum sequences. It’s Griffin who I really liked, because her ‘hide-my-personality-behind-comedy’ attitude was a lot of fun, and she had one of the better fleshed out characters there.

As far as kills go, there’s not that much that stands out. It’s true that the ice skating sequence is fun and memorable, and there was an okay throat-slitting toward the end, but Curtains isn’t really a movie that’s focused on the kills (partially because the director and producer apparently got into constant arguments about what route the film should take, whether an arthouse thriller or a straight-up slasher).

It’s the finale that I’ve always tended to remember fondly, and I still think it’s pretty solid and certainly bleak. The final scene in the film always stuck with me, and thought it’s okay, I definitely think there could have been ways to perhaps end it a bit better.

Curtains isn’t a great movie, and while that may not be the fault of the script itself, it certainly shows that this Canadian movie could have been more, especially with the setting and characters being what they were. It’s perhaps worth a handful of watches, but like I said, I used to like this one more than I do now, so going in gung ho may be unadvisable.

6.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. To listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, check out the video below.

Jaws 3-D (1983)

Directed by Joe Alves [Other horror films: N/A]

The story here isn’t that great, but it’s 3-D, guys, so we cool?

Alas, the answer is no, and Jaws 3-D, while not necessarily God-awful, is pretty mediocre, especially after the second film, which I found quite a bit more enjoyable than the first.

Here, the idea is interesting, but there’s about an hour-long set-up, and then even once things seem ready to go, we find out it’s another shark that’s cause for concern, not the one we dealt with for most of the past hour-and-a-half. All of that could be excused if much of it was worth seeing, but I don’t believe that’s the case.

It’s no fault of the performances, though, most of which are at least decent. True, Dennis Quaid’s a bit dull and doesn’t really do that much, but Bess Armstrong and Lea Thompson (Back to the Future-fame) were attractive enough to make up for that. I wasn’t feeling John Putch as Sean at all, but I did like the animated characters portrayed by Louis Gossett Jr. and Simon MacCorkindale (I have no idea who MacCorkindale is, but he was really fun here). Lastly, P.H. Moriarty was solid here, and had a fantastic emotional scene toward the end which I really appreciated (although it was likely lost in the shit 3-D).

Truth be told, I don’t know if the 3-D here is really that bad – I opted out of wearing one of the many pairs of 3-D glasses I have lying around the apartment, but it definitely didn’t seem great, or anything to really warrant the format (which can likely be said for most movies made in 3-D during the 1980’s). The ending possessed atrocious 3-D action, along with a laughable slow motion scene, so kudos there.

As mediocre as this is, though, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as the current IMDb score indicates (right now, this movie sits at a 3.7/10, and #77 in the Bottom 100 movies). It’s not good, but is is really that bad? I don’t see it, because as much as the story bored me, some of the performances really brought some life to the film, such as MacCorkindale, Armstrong, Gossett Jr., and Moriarty. Was it sometimes a bit much? Sure, but if any movie needed it, Jaws 3-D did.

Had the story been better written, I think the movie could have had some potential. At the same time, after two somewhat decently successful Jaws movies, I don’t really think they needed to make a third one, especially a 3-D addition. I don’t begrudge the solid performances in the film, but the movie itself isn’t particularly good. In all honesty, though, I don’t think it’s near as bad as many seem to think it is.

6/10

Sweet Sixteen (1983)

Directed by Jim Sotos [Other horror films: Forced Entry (1976)]

While not really a lot better than many other slashers that came out around the same time period, Sweet Sixteen definitely isn’t much worse. Some of the kills are a bit on the repetitive side, but the mystery is solid, and there are plenty of enjoyable characters here.

There’s a few performances that really help out. Dana Kimmell (of Friday the 13th Part III fame) and Steve Antin did well as brother and sister, though Kimmell came across as so much more memorable than did Antin. Bo Hopkins does great as a lead here, and comes across well-casted. Oddly, while Aleisa Shirley was beautiful, and shined in her nude scenes, aside from the conclusion, I don’t think she stood out all that much. Others who did, though, include Don Shanks, Patrick Macnee, Susan Strasberg, and Sharon Farrell (who also starred in 1974’s It’s Alive).

As far as gore goes, it’s definitely lighter than others around the same time, and like I said, the kills themselves are rather repetitive, but I don’t really think it hurt the film too much. Since the story was pretty engaging, and can lead one to suspect any number of potential suspects, I think any misgivings about lack of gore can mostly be forgiven.

Sweet Sixteen isn’t really the most memorable slasher, especially as birthday-themed slashers have been done before (such as Happy Birthday to Me and Bloody Birthday), but it’s still a decently charming movie, and adds in some elements of racism against Native Americans to keep things a little more interesting. Really, this is one that I suspect many slasher fans would be fine with, but I don’t think it’d make most people’s top twenty slashers.

7.5/10

This is one of the film’s covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I talk this one over, check out the video below.

Christine (1983)

Directed by John Carpenter [Other horror films: Halloween (1978), Someone’s Watching Me! (1978), The Fog (1980), The Thing (1982), Prince of Darkness (1987), They Live (1988), Body Bags (1993, segments ‘The Gas Station’ & ‘Hair’), In the Mouth of Madness (1994), Village of the Damned (1995), Vampires (1998), Ghosts of Mars (2001), The Ward (2010)]

One of the more well-known horror films I haven’t seen until just now, Christine was a decent movie with a bit going for it, but I can’t pretend that I thought it was great or, even more so, that it really needed to be an hour and 50 minutes.

I’ve never read all of the Stephen King novel this movie’s based off – I got very, very close to the ending once, but for some reason, I didn’t seal the deal. That was many years ago, so the characters here, not to mention most of the scenes, all seem new to me, which I guess is a positive going into a movie that has as many fans as this one does.

Keith Gordon was decent as one of the central characters. I pretty much felt for him throughout most of the film (and I should also say that never once did I feel bad for his parents, who drove me up the wall), and seeing him change as the movie goes on was sort of fun to see. I think John Stockwell was marginally more interesting, though not exactly memorable, and Alexandra Paul somewhat inconsequential.

It was nice to see Harry Dean Stanton (Alien) for a bit, and even nicer to randomly see Stuart Charno (I didn’t know the name beforehand, but he’s Ted from Friday the 13th Part 2), though neither one really got enough screen-time to make much of a difference. Robert Prosky was solid, and William Ostrander made for a quality bully (who had an amazingly high level of aggression).

Another thing that I have to mention is the quality soundtrack. Not just the miscellaneous 50’s songs either, but the solid 80’s vibe this film has, at times reminding me of Halloween III: Season of the Witch and other classics from the same era. Definitely found myself digging it.

Problematically, though, while I like most of the story, I really don’t think this needed to be as long as it was. I think it probably would have been perfectly acceptable to trim out fifteen, maybe twenty minutes, and all would have been well. I don’t necessarily think the movie drags a substantial amount, but I did find myself losing focus once or twice.

Of course, there are scenes here that make it worth it, such as the first car chase sequence, but then you get to the conclusion, which I personally felt was all hat and no cattle. I mean, it was okay for some of the action, but I just found it somewhat underwhelming. Admittedly, I don’t know what else they could have done to an evil car, but there you go.

Christine isn’t a movie that I had a deep interest in seeing beforehand, and ultimately, I don’t think it’s anywhere near a great film, but it’s decent, and I think that people have a good reason for enjoying it. I find it somewhat below average, if only because I don’t think the length of the film awarded the content any, but I didn’t have a bad time with it, and perhaps with another viewing down the line, I’ll appreciate it more.

6.5/10

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Directed by Robert Hiltzik [Other horror films: Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)]

Of the classic slashers of the early 80’s, Sleepaway Camp has never been a favorite of mine. In my view, both Friday the 13th and The Burning are more enjoyable, and while this certainly stands out in some ways (including, of course, the finale), I still can’t bring myself to overly adore it.

Not that Sleepaway Camp is a bad movie. It’s, for lack of a better word, interesting, and some parts are really hard to take seriously, such as Desiree Gould’s Aunt Martha or Owen Hughes’ possibly pedophilic Artie (who had a solid almost-death scene, on a side-note). The tongue-in-cheek style isn’t too overbearing, but it certainly is noticeable at times (Mike Kellin as Mel is another somewhat over-the-top character), which gives the film a unique feeling, but doesn’t endear me too much to it.

As far as deaths go, though, the movie’s golden. The hair curler scene was solid, but even better (at least for me, being allergic) was the beehive in the bathroom, which was perhaps one of my favorite scenes in the movie. As aforementioned, Hughes’ character gets his head pushed into boiling water (think My Bloody Valentine, although arguably more violent), and that too stood out.

Acting’s a bit of a mixed bag (in part due to the fact that many of the extras were actually played by younger kids as opposed to established actors and actresses), but for a slasher, it’s not particularly noticeable. Felissa Rose was solid as Angela, and had that quiet, somewhat awkward teen style down. Jonathan Tiersten wasn’t great, but his exuberance was welcomed. Both Karen Fields and Katherine Kamhi (who popped up a year later in the forgotten slasher Silent Madness) did great as the bitchy girls you just want to see die, and Christopher Collet does okay as one of Angela’s anchors to happiness.

Overall, though, while the film is enjoyable enough, like I said, both Friday the 13th and The Burning come to mind first when thinking of solid camp-based slashers. Sleepaway Camp is certainly still worth a watch (if for anything, for the unexpected but solidly built-up conclusion), but I don’t know if it’s a movie that would otherwise blow you away. At least, it never did me.

7/10

This is one of the films discussed on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you want to hear myself and Chucky (@ChuckyFE) talk about Sleepaway Camp, listen below.

Skullduggery (1983)

Directed by Ota Richter [Other horror films: N/A]

I’ve had the vaguest notions of this Canadian film for many years, never really knowing what it was about, aside from some cursed young man going on a killing spree. I guess that’s all you need to know, and all you get to know, because Skullduggery is entirely illogical and nonsensical in a way I’ve rarely witnessed before.

There are a lot of elements about this movie that I can’t make heads or tails of at all, such as the gorilla in the hospital (who appeared to be smoking), or the (evil/possessed?) jester doll, or the funeral chase sequence, or the lengthy costume party at the end (it started out normal, but then it became Satanic somewhere along the way, I guess?), or the magician, or the snake/heart attack, or the most unenthusiastic DM I’ve ever seen, or the random cuts of a guy in shadows putting a puzzle together, or the tic-tac-toe guy who pops up every other scene for no reason, or the guy in a sparkly suit playing piano, or the suit of armor that lives with the jester/killer…

This film is utterly bewildering.

I guess it’s fair to call it a slasher, as multiple people get killed with swords or knives, but this movie is so out there that I doubt many would really want to count it. Certainly, with the threadbare plot they had, it could have been a more conventional slasher, but the direction Skullduggery defies explanation. I mean it – I’m floored.

You know what? I think that says it all. This movie is bizarre on a level that few movies I’ve seen are (only ones that immediately comes to mind is 1981’s The Territory or 1989’s Things), but it’s also rather dull despite the crazy stuff in the film.

Just watch it. Be amazed. But I don’t think anything could really prepare you for this. The theme song is catchy stuff, though.

4/10

2019 – Dopo la caduta di New York (1983)

2019

Directed by Sergio Martino [Other horror films: Lo strano vizio della signora Wardh (1971), La cado dello scorpione (1971), Tutti i colori del buio (1972), Il tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave (1972), I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (1973), Morte sospetta di una minorenne (1975), La montagna del dio cannibale (1978), L’isola degli uomini pesce (1979), Il fiume del grande caimano (1979), Assassinio al cimitero etrusco (1982), American risciò (1989), La regina degli uomini pesce (1995), Mozart è un assassino (1999)]

I’ve never seen either Mad Max or Escape from New York (non-horror films are not really my thing, generally speaking), but I have to imagine this Italian movie, known in the US as 2019: After the Fall of New, is quite a bit like those films. A fantastic action/science fiction/horror medley, this film is a lot of fun, and comes highly recommended.

Post-apocalyptic movies can sometimes not quite work out, but this one does, due to multiple factors, being the fun cast of characters, the soundtrack, the heavy gore, and just general fun of the action. Primarily, if you’re looking for an action-filled flick, this is it. Plenty of brawl sequences, some gun play, interesting weapons, and further helping this along is the strong gore throughout the film. Two of my favorite instances being a rather brutal eye-gouging and a multiple-person decapitation – those aside, other sequences of splatter can be found, and the special effects are decent enough to back up the ambitious gore.

A small note on the soundtrack – it’s filled with a bunch of fun Italian electronic tracks. It’s a funky soundtrack, and certainly added a little something special to the film.

Michael Sopkiw does pretty damn good as the main character, and he has a fun presence also. The same can be said for most of the cast, but in particular, Valentine Monnier, Romano Puppo, Louis Ecclesia, and George Eastman, brought most of the fun to the film. I do wish that there had been more scenes of the three central characters (Sopkiw, Puppo, and a Paolo Maria Scalondro) in what was left of New York, but what we got was still action-packed amusement.

Brought to us by well-known director Sergio Martino (if I tried to list his better-known additions to the genre, this paragraph would be at least three lines longer, so lucky, they’re listed above), 2019: After the Fall of New York is a lot of fun, and if you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic films, gory Italian movies, or just having a good time, this is a movie I’d recommend looking into.

8.5/10