Sunday, July 13, 2014

1981: Guilty Pleasures

Of course, there is a little guilt.  Okay, make that a lot.

Pretty big batch of slasher movies this year.  They sort of run together so let's just get them out of the way here.

Interesting slasher flick from Wes Craven with a ludicrously over the top plot about a bunch of super-Amish being stalked by a shadowy killer while a trio of impossibly hot women, including Sharon Stone in an early role, are also threatened.  Craven has one or two elements here that would be used better in A Nightmare on Elm Street but this one is just a hoot for all the wrong reasons.  Plus, you get Ernest Borgnine with an epic beard whose character may as well be called Red Herring.

Tom Savini had a banner year in 1981 with some amazing gore f/x for this fairly standard, yet enjoyable summer camp slasher about a horribly disfigured maniac with a huge grudge against campers.  Savini really delivers here.

Some good Tom Burman f/x keep this somewhat overly long slasher going as Little House on the Prairie's Melissa Sue Anderson plays a young woman whose friends, all part of an elite clique at school, are being picked off one by one.  The plot is nicely twisty and while the grue isn't quite as plentiful as some other slashers, the finale more than makes up for it by being batshit insane.

Tom Savini's other 1981 slasher is a rather well crafted little number with a bunch of the usual teens being picked off gruesomely by a maniac in military fatigues.  The f/x are really the star of the show here as good old Tom finds new ways to thoroughly butcher the cast.  Good times.

Solid Canadian slasher that was mangled by the MPAA about a sleepy little mining town that sees some horrible murders by a deranged miner when the Valentine's Day dance is pout back on after not being held after a tragedy.  The Tom Burman f/x in the uncut version really sell this, as do the nice interior mine sets.

This is probably my favorite of all the sequels with a good Final Girl in Amy Steel, a nice makeup design for Jason and a grimy, gritty look that draws me in.  Is it logical?  No, not even a little.  Is it fun?  Hell yeah!

Okay, enough with the slashers for now.

A great cast stars in this gloriously tasteless, gleefully gory and oddly well thought out (sort of) science fiction/horror flick about a bunch of space explorers who find a planet that can make you face your greatest fear.  We get ripped off limbs, a rather infamous scene of a woman being raped to death by a giant maggot, some nice f/x work and production design from James Cameron and Erin Moran from Happy Days getting her head exploded.  It's quite the ride.

The first of three ninja films with Sho Kosugi from Cannon.  This time, he's the bad guy going up against white ninja (in more ways than one) Franco Nero in a pretty straightforward tale of a good guy protecting a friend from some bad guys.  Cheesy acting and action, some hilarious moments... both intentional and otherwise and Christopher George as one of the dumbest bad guys you will ever see.  It's a real treat.

It really should go in the slasher group but this one is so amazingly bad in the most hilarious way that it simply has to given a spotlight of its own. No real plot, no real characters, just 80 minutes or so of idiotic hikers being picked off in gruesome ways by a deranged mountain man.  It's quite the endurance test as the film is badly shot, lit, acted, composed and written.  The only reason this isn't on the worst of the year list is that for some reason, and this may be me and me alone, but I find it absolutely frigging hilarious.

And finally, it didn't hit theaters stateside until 1984 (it was released in Spain in 1980 and in Italy in 1981) but this Italian zombie movie is a good choice for the guilty pleasure list for any year.  Directed by notable bad movie auteur Bruno Mattei (credited here as Vincent Dawn), Night of the Zombies (also known as Hell of the Living Dead, along with about a dozen other titles) is a rather brazen cash-in on Dawn of the Dead (to the point where they recycle music from that film) and Lucio Fulci's Zombie which is pretty funny when you realize what the Fulci film was cashing in on.  The plot... might be stretching the term a little but nevertheless, revolves around a zombie outbreak centered on a top secret chemical factory on a remote island.  A team of impressively stupid soldiers are hunting down some terrorists and get involved in the melee with the expected gory results.

What really makes this one fun is just how stupid it is both in story and execution.  Even for an Italian horror movie it's dumb with characters more or less inviting a horrific death (I especially like the soldier who dresses up in a tutu and dances around while being attacked by zombies), the usual head shot to kill a zombie is forgotten quickly, tons of nature footage to pad things out when it suddenly turns into a jungle movie (thankfully without the usual animal killing you tend to get) and pretty much zero character building.  It's fun if you're in the mood for a really bad movie.  Otherwise, ugh.

Well that went a little longer than I expected!  Stay tuned for the best of the year list.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.