Uninvited (1987)

Directed by Greydon Clark [Other horror films: Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977), Without Warning (1980), Wacko (1982), Dance Macabre (1992)]

So I’ll give the poster credit for being decent, but boy, this movie definitely has some issues. That doesn’t make Uninvited any less entertaining, but I suspect that this film, while somewhat fun once around, might suffer deeply with revisits.

Even seeing it once doesn’t lead to the best time, but the dialogue and acting is so awful, it’s almost good. The cat itself is fine, but the ill-defined creature that exists within the cat that does most of the killings doesn’t look particularly impressive whatsoever.

I do personally appreciate that this film takes place mostly on a yacht (and a few years before Jason Takes a Long Boat Ride), because more enclosed spaces theoretically should increase the tension. Of course, it never really did, but being lost out at sea without a working engine did hold with it a certain despair.

Alex Cord was appropriately campy here, and his character, of course, quite a dick. He did have a slimy charm at times, but by the end, he got somewhat hard to appreciate. Clu Gulager (The Return of the Living Dead and Freddy’s Revenge) was sort of nice to see, but he didn’t have a heck of a lot of screen-time. Better was George Kennedy (Just Before Dawn and Death Ship), who was Cord’s serious-minded right-hand man.

Shari Shattuck and Clare Carey never really caught on with me (they were cute, sure, but they weren’t winning any IQ tests). Likewise, neither Beau Dremann nor Rob Estes (Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge) blew me away, but I did really like both Eric Larson (Demon Wind) and Toni Hudson. Hudson was maybe a bit more generic, but Larson’s character was pretty interesting, and one of the only ones on board to really root for.

Toward the end, once the surviving characters get into a lifeboat, the cat-creature-thing attacks them twice, with this ridiculous music playing. The sequence was a good example of what to expect from this movie. It’s not overtly silly (though like I said, some of the performances are more than a little camp), but it almost reaches into the realm of comedy with as bad as some of these scenes are.

When it’s all said and done, Uninvited isn’t anywhere near a great movie, but it can be entertaining, and if that’s your main concern, I think you could certainly do a lot worse than this, as bad as this can get.

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, then look no further.

Criminally Insane 2 (1987)

Directed by Nick Millard [Other horror films: Criminally Insane (1975), Satan’s Black Wedding (1976), Doctor Bloodbath (1987), Death Nurse (1987), Cemetery Sisters (1987), Death Nurse 2 (1988), Dracula in Vegas (1999), The Turn of the Screw (2003)]

The 1975 Criminally Insane would never win any awards, but I liked it well enough for it’s pure grind-house aesthetic. This sequel, though, has to be among one of the worse straight-to-video horror flicks of the late 1980’s (and no doubt there’s plenty of competition).

Partially, this is due to the fact that a third of the film is made up of flashbacks from the first film (mostly in the form of Ethel’s dream sequences). I enjoyed the first film, but just reusing various scenes (sometimes multiple times) in order to pad the already short running time (this clocks in at about 70 minutes) is just weak sauce. It’s not as bad as Puppet Master: The Legacy, but it is definitely weak.

With the story we’re given, though, of Ethel being moved into a halfway house following budget cuts to mental institutions, it’s okay. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s really, really dry, boring as all hell, and leads only to a collection of weak kills and stilted conversations (the tea conversation between Ethel and some guy she was trying to kill, for instance), but hey, they tried.

As it is, the movie actually could have been fine if only they had cut back on the amount of flashbacks they inserted and instead added a bit more story and maybe character background (also, there’s a scene here which indicated there are four patients at this halfway house, but we only ever see three). I mean, Priscilla Alden came back for this, and the least you could do for her is give her a script worth shooting.

Honestly, this film is pretty much an insult. Some of the conversations here are amusing (for all the wrong reasons), but there’s really not much charm at all to be found here. The quality is that of a homemade movie from the 1980’s, and the very dull sets and stilted dialogue just make the whole affair laughable.

I can’t think of any good reason to go out of your way to seek this out. The first movie, as I said, was pretty enjoyable for it’s time, but this one is just beyond pathetic, as the IMDb rating (a hefty 1.9/10 at the time of this writing) can attest to. I don’t rate it quite that lowly, if only because I was personally amused at some of this, but boy, talk about a poor film.

4/10

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Directed by Joseph Sargent [Other horror films: Nightmares (1983)]

Before touching on any details, I want to get this controversial viewpoint out of the way: I actually like this movie more than the first Jaws. Not that it’s a better movie, necessarily, just that I had more fun with this. It occasionally drags, and there’s not near enough action, but hey, Michael Caine is fun here.

Caine appeared in few horror films, among them a starring role in The Swarm, which is perhaps his most notable one. His role here isn’t mind-blowing or anything, but he has a consistently fun personality, which melds nicely to most others’ rather somber attitudes. I’m glad that Lorraine Gary came back as Ellen Brody, but the fact that neither Dennis Quaid or John Putch return as Mike and Sean (instead, there’s Lance Guest and Mitchell Anderson) was disappointing.

Not that Guest is actually that bad here, though he does have a few moments of mediocrity. That’s probably more the film than his acting abilities, though. Mario Van Peebles was decently fun as Jake, but really, Caine held most of my attention, which is fine, because he was probably one of the most interesting people here.

I get a lot of why this movie gets a bad rap – the idea that a particular shark is specifically going after the Brody family (why is never made clear – perhaps the sharks killed in the first and second movies were it’s parents) is pretty laughable, especially coming to an environment that isn’t ideal for it. More so, the movie’s goofy at times. The seemingly-psychic way Ellen knows that the shark is hunting her and her family is pretty bad, and that finale wasn’t near as dramatic as you’d hope (in fact, the whole the finale had an improbably positive outcome for all involved).

Still, though there isn’t nearly as much action as there should be (the shark chasing Michael was decent, but aside from that, there weren’t many action sequences of note), I think Jaws: The Revenge is reasonably fun. If it’s only because of Van Peebles and Caine, so be it, but it undeniably had more life than the often-dull Jaws 3. I’m not saying that this film is great, but I can’t deny that I enjoy it more than I probably should, and probably find it somewhere just below average.

6.5/10

Creepshow 2 (1987)

Directed by Michael Gornick [Other horror films: Stephen King’s Golden Tales (1985, segment ‘The Word Processor of the Gods’)]

The first Creepshow is an interesting one, because while most of the stories aren’t great, the package as a whole is a fairly enjoyable anthology. Creepshow 2 isn’t that far removed from the pleasures of the first movie, but it’s certainly nowhere in the same league.

I’ve always thought the best story here was the first one, ‘Old Chief Wood’nhead.’ It’s not perfect, mainly because Holt McCallam’s character is so damn unlikable (can he not shut up about his hair?), but it does have George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour as a wonderful couple who you can’t help but feel for. The deaths aren’t that special, but they do have just a dash of charm to them, and it’s a story that always made me feel good.

The other two are somewhat lackluster, though. ‘The Raft,’ based off a Stephen King short story from Skeleton Crew, is an okay story, a somewhat interesting premise, but entirely unmemorable characters. Also, as well-known as the ending is, I just feel meh about the whole thing. And as for ‘The Hitch-Hiker’? Sorry, but though I’ve seen this many times in my life, I’ve never really liked the story at all.

With only one story that’s really that good, what helps Creepshow 2 out a bit is the animated framing story, in which an odd kid gets back at his bullies with the help of his love of the Creepshow comic book. The animation is a bit rough (this is the late 80’s, what more would you expect?) but I always loved the conclusion to the movie. Just brings a smile to my face. It’s not quite as memorable as the framing story for the first movie, but it’s still decent.

Like I’ve said, I’ve seen this one multiple times in my life. And through it all, I’ve always thought Creepshow 2 was just an average movie. I wish they had more than just three stories (which was apparently originally the plan), but as an anthology flick, it’s not bad. Just nowhere near as enjoyable as the first.

6.5/10

This is one of the films covered by the Fight Evil podcast, so if you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, check out the video below.

Frenchman’s Farm (1987)

Directed by Ron Way [Other horror films: N/A]

This Australian mystery/horror/romance/drama is rather interesting. Not necessarily good, mind you, but interesting. Calling it horror is probably fine, but the film is definitely more focused on the mystery aspect than the multiple killings, which is a bit of a shame, really.

With Frenchman’s Farm, there’s a lot of exposition in a lot of scenes. There’s quite a few names and dates that you’d best try to remember, or otherwise you may get lost along the way. As it was, I actually missed something somewhere, so there’s something that didn’t make sense to me come the end (regarding the ghost of the farm), but I suspect that if I watched closer with a more attuned ear to the Australian accents, everything would be clearer.

As it is, because so much of the movie relies on understanding the mystery, I will admit to feeling it dragged past a certain point. To be fair, given the movie’s a hour and forty minutes, perhaps it would have felt like it was dragging anyways. There are some horror aspects that certainly pop up throughout the film (some rather effectively creepy, too), but I don’t know if it’s really enough to sate me given the total time spent with the film.

Being an Australian film, I don’t really know any of the actors here, but everyone involved did a reasonably good job, such as Tracey Tainsh and David Reyne, who play the main characters. Their relationship feels authentic, and I appreciate the both of them. Others who do well include Norman Kaye and Andrew Blackman. I want to give a special mention to John Meillon, who played Riley in the first two Crocodile Dundee movies. I didn’t even recognize him when watching the film due to his character having a mustache, but looking back, it’s definitely him, which is sort of cool.

While there was a lot I enjoyed about the film, I find it a hard one to really recommend to fellow horror fans, given that, while no doubt in my mind horror, that others would be inclined to disagree. Given the focus of this is far more the mystery the two main characters are trying to uncover, the horror portions (as great as some of them are, especially near the end) are overshadowed. Might be worth a look if you’re into Australian cinema, but otherwise, I suspect many would be disappointed, especially given some of the posters for this one.

7.5/10

Deliria (1987)

Directed by Michele Soavi [Other horror films: La chiesa (1989), La setta (1991), Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)]

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that, at the time of this writing (4/23/2019, should anyone be interested) I’m drunk off my fucking ass, but this movie was excellent. Great death scenes, damn good suspense, fantastic movie, and just overall a fun movie.

I saw this before, and I enjoyed it, but this time around, I get the sense I enjoyed it a lot more. I have virtually no complaints about Deliria (as that’s it’s original title), and it really has a lot of things going for it.

The funky Italian music is especially fun throughout the film, and toward the ending, there’s a great sequence on the catwalks with the music playing that was just a delight. The special effects were great, and pretty much every kill was enjoyable (favorites including the dismemberment and decapitation, along with the drill and chainsaw). My all-time favorite kill, though, was one of the earlier ones, when a character gets stabbed on-stage. The way that scene was filmed was great, and it had such an epic feel to it (music, of course, played a large part in that). It’s not necessarily an overly gory kill, but it was my favorite in the film.

Most of the main performances are pretty decent. Barbara Cupisti and David Brandon in particular impressed me, but I also rather enjoyed Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Loredana Parrella, Martin Philips, James Sampson, and Ulrike Schwerk. Clain Parker played the killer wearing the owl headpiece (which, by the way, was a rather random yet fun addition to the film), and I really loved Parker’s calm style, especially the sequence when he’s just sitting around all those he’s killed, stroking a cat (which, on a side-note, was a fantastically suspenseful sequence).

While I sort of wish the film had gone the giallo route (by attempting to hide the identity of the killer, or throwing in some type of plot twist where there were multiple killers), I sort of appreciate how the movie kept things simple. We know who the killer is from the beginning, and the body count rises and rises in generally gory and satisfying ways.

Truth be told, I don’t think there’s any really big issues with the film. If you’re a fan of slashers, I really don’t see where this film would do you wrong. Pretty much everything’s solid about it, and there’s even a little humor provided by two cops sitting outside the studio while all the mayhem’s taking place (the younger cop played by the director, Michele Soavi). Whether you know this movie as StageFright, Aquaris, Deliria, whatever, this Italian movie has the goods, and was a fantastic rewatch.

9/10

Stripped to Kill (1987)

Directed by Katt Shea [Other horror films: Stripped to Kill 2: Live Girls (1989), Dance of the Damned (1989), The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)]

I first saw this one about two years ago at the time of this writing, and I thought it was decent. I think the flaws here are pretty easy to see, but at the same time, Stripped to Kill does possess some of that 80’s charm that makes the experience feel a bit better.

The main problem here, in my opinion, is a lot more time is spent on strippers’ dances then on the kills. What kills we do get are pretty decent, such as a woman being doused in gasoline and lit ablaze, or another one garroted and drug under a truck for some time. But instead of additional interesting kills, we get strippers stripping, which has it’s minor appeal, but gets a bit old, especially mixed with generally generic 80’s pop and rock.

What makes the movie stand out regardless, though, is the somewhat interesting mystery and conclusion. Admittedly, a female cop going undercover as a stripper (which has got to break at least some police codes, I’d think) is an interesting enough plot, but throw in a mysterious killer, a few red herrings (Mr. Pocket was a very decent character, and I really liked how that played out), and a generally fun finale, and you have my interest. I enjoyed the mystery here, and with the decent characters, it did make the film worth watching despite the repetitive strip sequences.

Kay Lenz was fantastic here. She’s not an actress I really know (though she was in the classic horror-comedy House), but I loved her character. Instead of looking down on the strippers, walking in their shoes shows her that they’re just people, and some rather pleasant. She was cute too, and I’d watch her strip sequences anytime. Lenz also had a very solid performance toward the end, a very emotional one, so she certainly brought something to this movie.

Greg Evigan’s (from DeepStar Six) character was another story. His sexist nature (and the way he looked down on the profession of stripping despite enjoying the performances) was difficult at times to deal with, and while I admit he was pretty fun, his character sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. It doesn’t help that, as a police officer, he harassed and was physically violent toward multiple people. A few other performances I liked include Pia Kamakahi and Diana Bellamy (who’s character, while only getting a few appearances, never failed to crack me up).

Stripped to Kill isn’t a great movie. As a slasher, it pretty much fails, but at the same time, I can’t deny I really like the mystery here, and while some stripping scenes got repetitive, I didn’t really mind rewatching this one, and what’s more, I could see myself giving this another viewing in the future.

7/10

This is one of the films that was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interested, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this film.

The Stepfather (1987)

Directed by Joseph Ruben [Other horror films: Dreamscape (1984), The Good Son (1993)]

I might not be surprising anyone when I admit to being a big fan of this movie. Both my my banner here, along with my signature on HorrorMovieFans.com, use a ‘Who am I here?’ image of the movie, and perhaps more than any other movie (aside from maybe Burnt Offerings), I wear the fact that I love this one on my sleeve for all to see.

And I don’t feel a bit ashamed.

I’m not going as far as to say this movie’s perfect, but I will say that Terry O’Quinn’s performance is without flaw. I love the idea of an insane man trying to encapsulate the perfect, Leave It to Beaver family unit, only to undoubtedly become disappointed, kill them, and start over again. He tries his best to create the picture-perfect family, one without discord, one with strong traditional values, but he’s never able to, no matter how wistfully he looks at other seemingly-happy families.

O’Quinn’s performance here is fantastic. He seems a clean-cut guy, whistling and shaving while the bodies of his discarded wife and kid are sprawled on the floor. He can’t take much in the way of criticism (just look at the house showing sequence with Charles Lanyer), and he’s corny as all hell (‘I sell the American Dream’), but he’s also pretty intimidating. When he’s having his mini-breakdown in the basement (unknowingly in front of his shocked step-daughter, Jill Schoelen), he’s obviously furious and mentally unstable (at the mere thought of his happy world crumbling down), and god, that breakdown at the end, resulting in the ‘Who am I here,’ line?

Perfection.

Really, the only character here that didn’t really blow me away was Jim, played by Stephen Shellen, whose main mission in the movie was to find the killer of his sister and bring him to justice. He certainly had a solid motive, but I don’t know if his scenes add all that much to the film (though certainly, without his persistence of getting the story of the murder ran again, there wouldn’t have been a story to begin with). He was still a decent character, and I felt bad for him throughout, but he was the least interesting individual here.

I sort of wished Jeff Schultz was more involved in the story, but after attempting to rape Schoelen’s character, I can see why he stepped out. 😛 Charles Lanyer, playing Schoelen’s therapist, was very solid, and when she said that her step-father scared her, you could tell he was devoted to helping her out, and boy, did he go the extra mile for her (speaking of which, when Jerry’s beating the guy with a four-by-two, talk about a solid sequence). Shelley Hack was decent as the mother, and she shared a touching moment or two with her daughter, but she was far from a crucial player here.

Once we move past O’Quinn, Jill Schoelen is the second-best performance here. She’s a troubled girl in a bad situation with almost no one on her side (her therapist being the one exception, and when she’s told that he died, you can’t help but feel for her), but she finds the strength to fight back, and it’s just solid stuff. It didn’t hurt they threw in a bit of nudity for some reason, but what the hell, it was welcomed. Even without that, she was a stand-out character, and it’s great to see her finally be vindicated come the end.

Related, she has a somewhat solid resume of horror films, such as the somewhat underrated Popcorn, co-starred in the 1989 Phantom of the Opera with Robert Englund, along with appearing in Curse II: The Bite, Cutting Class, Chiller, and When a Stranger Calls Back. She never seemed to reach A-list status, but she certainly had her fans, and though I’ve not yet seen many of her other movies, I suspect this was one of her finest roles.

Personally, I don’t know exactly why I love this one as much as I do. At times, I can’t deny that this feels more like a television movie than one that got theatrical release, because it can be a bit tame, and perhaps sluggish, but I still adore every second of it (and like I said, the ending as a whole is spectacular). The idea of a disappointed father quitting his job, scoping out a new family, then killing his existing family in order to move on was engaging, and I sort of wonder how many times Jerry’s done that before (I suspect the opening to the film was not his first infraction). In fact, much of Jerry’s history is uncovered, which only intensifies the mystery (aside from the fact he had a self-admitted strict upbringing, we’ve got nothing).

The Stepfather is a movie of high value, and certainly a movie that I’ve always enjoyed, and always will. All we need is a little order around here, and this movie brings it.

9/10

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

Blood Diner (1987)

Directed by Jackie Kong [Other horror films: The Being (1983)]

I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is the worst horror movie of the late 80’s (as there’s certainly competition, looking at films such as The Brainsucker, Slumber Party Massacre II, Hellgate, Things, The Stay Awake, and Nightmare Sisters), but it was a thoroughly unenjoyable time from start to finish.

Blood Diner’s over-the-top comedic style wasn’t my jam at all. Were a few lines and scenes here and there funny? Sure, but overall, the comedy was way too silly and stupid for me to ever be okay with, and what doesn’t help at all was that the story (which seems to be inspired partially by the far better film Blood Feast), which didn’t captivate nor interest me whatsoever.

Carl Crew and Rick Burks did okay playing brothers, though boy, did Crew’s behavior really get on my nerves. Burks was decent, though it didn’t really amount to much as the rest of the cast, not to mention movie as a whole, was poor.

If there’s one kind word I’ll throw to Blood Diner, it’s that the gore, while obviously low budget, was appreciated. Seeing multiple dismembered body parts does my heart well, and even though the scene in which a character gets both an arm and the opposite hand cut off was cheap, I still sort of liked that.

All things said, Blood Diner isn’t a movie I found myself enjoying whatsoever. I’ve actually seen it once before, but apparently I forgot just how much I didn’t care for this, or perhaps it’s just soured on me. I do like aspects of the special effects in the finale, but again, the final product doesn’t seem to be something I’d brag about.

4/10

This is one of the movies covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If interested, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this.

Near Dark (1987)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow [Other horror films: N/A]

This vampire film is a very unique addition to the genre, and is generally well-liked. Having seen it twice, while I definitely appreciate it, Near Dark isn’t my type of movie at all, though.

Horror takes a backseat to a moral drama of sorts, with heavy dashes of romance and the importance of family. I’m not a drama fan, nor much a romance fan, though, so much of this film, while somewhat emotional in many ways, isn’t my cup of tea whatsoever. When there are solid horror elements, such as the bar sequence, the movie gains a lot more of my attention. But for a lot of the film, aside from a few characters worth watching, Near Dark didn’t have much to offer.

There were some solid performances here (such as the lead Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, and Tim Thomerson among them), but the real stand-out here was Bill Paxton as Severen. His wild antics and attitude, especially during the bar sequence, really made him a character worth remembering. Lance Henriksen was decent, don’t get me wrong, but Paxton ultimately stole the show almost entirely.

I don’t love Near Dark, but I do appreciate what it was going for. For many people, it’s a fun ride and a memorable experience. I’ll give them that it’s definitely memorable, but as for me, I didn’t have a lot of fun with it, especially the final twenty or so minutes, which I honestly didn’t care for whatsoever. The highlight was definitely the bar scene (as one can probably tell, as this is the third time I’ve mentioned it), and if the rest of the movie had been like that, I’d have enjoyed Near Dark a hell of a lot more.

5/10

Near Dark was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss it, by all means, join in on the fun and listen brahs.