Category Archives: 80s & 90s

“Bad Dreams” (1988) REVIEW

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Even though this movie steals a major plot point from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (a burned boogeyman haunts the minds of several patients at a mental hospital), and went so far as to cast ANOES3 tough cookie Jennifer “I’m bad…and beautiful!” Rubin in the lead — it’s still a fun watch, not to mention, shot really well. I love it and remember seeking it out after seeing it on TV once.

Rubin is a young teen in the mid-1970s, and she’s part of a cult. The leader – played by the late, great Richard Lynch – decides it’s time everyone sacrifices themselves by self-immolation. Rubin reconsiders, as burning to death isn’t her thing, and she tries to escape. The house explodes, killing everyone…except Rubin who is merely put into a coma. Ten years later, Rubin emerges from the coma. Worried that she might have issues adjusting (or may still have some nasty memories of the incident), she’s incorporated into a group for troubled teens and adults. Eventually, Rubin starts having visions of Lynch — charred up like a hot dog on the grill too long. But his presence is also followed by the deaths of the group members. The staff attributes it to suicide (these are troubled people, after all), but Rubin knows better. Now if only she could convince them it’s actually her long dead cult leader doing the killing.

The movie is an easy watch. The acting is fine and the effects are cool, and thankfully, it doesn’t drag. It also stars a couple 80s hot properties at the time, like EG Daily and Dean Cameron (‘Chainsaw’ from Summer School). Plus, Richard Lynch gives such a terrifyingly creepy performance – before, as the cult leader, and after as the burned up bad-guy.

If you’ve never seen this movie, it’s definitely worth a watch. It’s your standard entry level 80s horror fare.

“From Beyond” (1986) REVIEW

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Stuart Gordon (along with his partner in grime, Brian Yuzna) give Cronenberg a run-for-his-money when it comes to body horror. There’s no better example than the twisted, oozing, pulsating beast that is From Beyond. Gordon and Yuzna adapted this H.P. Lovecraft story, and it stars genre-staples Jeffery Combs, Barbara Crampton, and Ken Foree — this movie is a win-win-win.

Two scientists (Combs and an ultra-sleazy Ted Sorel) tinker with a machine that is supposed to stimulate the pineal gland. Some shit goes down, and Sorel is sucked into a netherworld, gone without a trace. Combs hires a couple detectives to find out what’s going on, but all hell breaks loose when the machine is turned back on. Not only are Combs and the detectives now able to see (and be attacked by) strange creatures that exist in this alternate dimension, but Sorel returns — only he’s super deformed and even hornier than before.

This is one of those movies where the imagery is so utterly sweaty and slimy and weird…it just sticks with you. Once again, I saw this as a child and was scarred for life…but in a good way. One of the great horror films of the 80s.

“Maniac Cop” (1988) REVIEW

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This one has been shit on for years and I really don’t know why. It stars the great Bruce Campbell and the great Tom Atkins and it was directed by William “Maniac” Lustig.

The premise isn’t spectacular, but it’s still creative: a by-the-book cop (Robert “The Chin” Z’Dar) gets jailed on a technicality, and while incarcerated, is attacked by several inmates he helped lock up. Left for dead, he’s removed from the prison and sent to the morgue. Soon after, criminals and bystanders alike are being killed on the streets of New York. When the wife of a young cop (Bruce Campbell) winds up dead, it’s assumed that he’s been doing the killing all along. However, Campbell aims to prove his innocence and find out who has actually been doing the killing. Eventually he uncovers the truth: Z’Dar wasn’t actually killed in prison — just maimed and disfigured — and now he’s out for revenge on everyone.

Sure, the plot has some loopholes, the main one being: he wasn’t killed in prison, he merely had a faint pulse (as admitted by the coroner)…but how come he’s suddenly able to withstand getting shot numerous times, including in the head? Like, did getting jumped in the shower somehow make him supernatural?

Look, you’ll just have to suspend disbelief and roll with it. It’s 80s horror at it’s best: crime, undead cops exacting revenge, and New York – as filthy as ever.

“Nekromantik” (1987) REVIEW

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This experiment in exhumation hails from Der Vatherland during the late-80s punk rock horror boom. At the time — and maybe even now, still — it was extremely controversial due to it’s subject matter (corpse-sexing).

A young man works for a body removal unit and it allows him to indulge in his favorite pastime: necrophilia. His girlfriend doesn’t seem to mind much, as she partakes in the ghoulish going-ons. However, the man never seems satisfied, and his icky urges escalate. He loses his job and his girlfriend; soon he begins killing randomly people. The poor guy can’t catch a break.

The movie ends on a bittersweet (?) note as the man is able to achieve his greatest sexual urge while at the same time ending his reign of madness. It’s as jaw-dropping of a scene as they come.

At 75 minutes, the movie flies by. The special effects are nice and sloppy and recall a young Peter Jackson. Enjoy this one with grandma and the kids!

“Pieces” (1982) REVIEW

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With slight hints of giallo, this Spanish film feels, at times, like one of its Italian counterparts — what with the mysterious black-gloved madman, befuddled detectives, and the unnecessarily overdubbed American actors — but make no mistake, this gristly, sweaty ‘piece’ of cinema is pure early-80s sleaze.

I don’t know why this film is so overlooked when it comes to great horror. It has all the components of a classic: a chainsaw-wielding psycho attacks innocent girls on a college campus. What more could you ask for? The acting is shoddy and the blood is pure ketchup — everything you could ever want from a great horror film.

“Night of the Creeps” (1986) REVIEW

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Ho-lee shit this movie is great. It’s so perfect, it’s not even funny. It somehow manages to blend three styles of horror film into one. It takes the 50s B-movie genre, the zombie genre, and the space alien genre and mashes it together into this beautiful, funny, cohesive gem. This is yet another late-80s classic that is very ‘punk rock’ in its execution and isn’t afraid to be funny. That’s the main problem with horror films today — they lack humor.

As I mentioned above, this film somehow manages to bring together three of the most opposite genres perfectly. The first third of the film is in black and white. A couple sits on lovers lane. Over the radio they hear an announcement: a maniac has escaped a hospital for the criminally insane. The girl, scared, wants to go home, but the guy isn’t having it. He leaves to take a leak, and while he’s gone she ends up being slaughtered by the escaped maniac. However, the boyfriend isn’t so safe either, as he discovers a weird canister on the ground from which a leech-like alien jumps out of and into his mouth.

Years later, a young college student falls in love with a girl on campus and decides in order to win her over he must join a frat. As part of his pledge, the young guy has to steal a cadaver from the university medical center cryogenics lab. He and his buddy do so, but little do they know the body they attempt to steal is the corpse of the young man who ate the alien leech many years ago.

You can see where this is going: upon defrosting the body, the leeches reanimate and cause the body to come back to life. The leeches also multiple and spread from person to person, usually by flying from the infected’s mouth into the victim’s mouth. Hell breaks loose on campus and it’s great.

This was directed by Fred “The Monster Squad” Dekker and stars genre staple Tom Atkins. What’s not to love?