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Sleepaway Camp (1983)

22 Nov

Couuuuusins! Identical cousins, and you'll find... they laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they'd even talk alike (if Angela talked, that is). They're two of a kiiiiind!

I started the month of October with a review of “The House of the Devil,” a new film aiming to resurrect the feel of a 1980s horror heyday movie. It’s fitting, then, that I ended the month with “Sleepaway Camp,” a bona fide and beloved 80s-era slasher. I got the recommendation for the film from none other than horror auteur Eli Roth in his five picks for great Halloween flicks, and I followed his admonition to know as little as possible about the film before seeing it. In that spirit, if you have never seen “Sleepaway Camp,” you should stop reading right now. I’m not giving away any true spoilers, but honestly, it’s best to go into this one absolutely blind. Continue reading

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Fright Night (1985)

19 Nov

And she seemed like such a nice girl too ...

I both wanted and expected to love “Fright Night.” A cheeky vampire movie with a ridiculous premise, ultra 80s styling and Roddy McDowall — what more could I want? Unfortunately, although the movie delivered on all those counts, I was left feeling like I’d just found out the boy I had a crush on didn’t believe in showering or brushing his teeth. The pieces were all right, but they came together all wrong. Continue reading

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

19 Nov

Scuzzy filmmakers ahoy!

When a movie is titled “Cannibal Holocaust,” it’s absurd to expect anything other than over-the-top shock horror. That this film offers measured and intelligent social commentary along with its horrific violence and impossible-to-forget imagery elevates it far beyond mere schlock. Continue reading

City of the Living Dead (1980)

5 Nov

Oh sure, he may look menacing now, but just wait til you see him in action.

City of the Living Dead” was an unplanned selection for 31 Nights of Horror. I had expected to get a new movie in the mail, but it didn’t arrive in a timely fashion, so I was left scrounging for something to take its place. Netflix recommended this one, which didn’t seem familiar based on its summary. By the time I realized what I was watching — and which famously gruesome death scene I was about to see — it was too late. Lucio Fulci had won again. Continue reading

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

31 Oct

You'll be surprised both by Michael Rooker's intense performance and his aw-shucks handsomeness.

A good supernatural horror movie can give me some shivers and shocks while I’m watching it, but it’s the monster-next-door that really unnerves me. Once a film ends, ghosts and ghouls don’t continue to creep me out, but serial killers aren’t as easy to laugh off. These people are out there, hopefully not as much as they seem to be in horror movies, but they do exist. Often, a horror film of the serial killer variety will give you some twinge of the supernatural, or veer into some comfortably unbelievable territory. Not “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” a movie that has lost none of its power to unnerve in the past 30 years. Continue reading

The Hunger (1983)

30 Oct

Catherine Deneuve is far too cool for school.

On paper, “The Hunger” seems like a film that’s ripe for rediscovery. Billed as an erotic thriller and starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon, the idea that it’s also a vampire movie is quite intriguing. With sexy vamp tales being all the rage now, this combo seems like something that is in line with current tastes. I had hoped for the sort of smart, sophisticated horror that arises from the mixture of strong artistic vision and quality acting. Unfortunately, “The Hunger” is overly concerned with a lone aspect of its story, and the film suffers for that single-mindedness. Continue reading

Swamp Thing (1982)

29 Oct

Seriously. This monster suit looks like a grade-school art project.

I went into “Swamp Thing” with fairly high hopes. One of my favorite ’80s scream queens is the star, and it was one of horror guru Wes Craven’s first larger budget movies, so I expected a certain level of sophistication, even if it proved fairly tame in the scare department. Imagine my (disappointed) surprise when what I got was essentially a made-for-TV movie. Continue reading

Night of the Demons (1988)

28 Oct

Don't watch this movie if you're squeamish about blood. Seriously.

Here’s the exact point when I knew I was going to have a great time watching the fondly remembered “Night of the Demons“:  The female lead, virginal good girl Judy, is on the phone with preppy Jay, who’s trying to convince her to attend a party at spooky Hull House. As he’s trying to talk her into it, he reaches for a box of Vanilla Wafers, and I was completely sold. Any horror movie this snarky is bound to be a fun ride. Continue reading

The Burning (1981)

11 Oct
Even though it’s a decidedly mediocre flick, the garden shears gimmick is awesome.

The popularity of slasher flicks in the early ’80s led to a proliferation of gimmicks as each movie in the sub-genre fought to stand out. What “The Burning” was known for at its release was its garden-shear killings and graphic violence. What it’s best known for now is its yearbook-esque performances from Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens … and its infamous raft death sequence. Nice to know some things never change. Continue reading