You know the song “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance? It was inspired by this film. The songwriters simply changed the lyrics about the killer so it could be used about an obsessive dancer instead.
That tidbit should be enough to make you want to see this 1980 slasher classic. It was directed by William Lustig (who also directed Maniac Cop, proving his affinity for the word ‘maniac’), and the make-up was done by none other than 80s effects wizard of gore Tom Savini. This movie is infamous for a scene involving a shotgun blast to the face. Bless you, Mr. Savini.
The movie is about a schizo loner named Frank Zito (played by a sweaty, scary, and super creepy Joe Spinell, RIP) who likes to go out and scalp women. He brings their scalps back to adorn several mannequins he has lying around his apartment. He’s so lonely – he just wants the company!
The is one of those low-budget, guerilla-style labors of love that really show how dedicated some people are to the genre. The movie only had a purported budget of $550,000.
A full decade before Scream was being self-aware and winking at the audience, there was April Fool’s Day. It’s really quite a ballsy move releasing a tongue-in-cheek horror film amid the 80s onslaught of slashers and stalkers. Especially considering the whole film is presented as a typical slasher film. It’s not until the last act… well, I’ve said too much already.
I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic box cover before. A girl stands, facing a group of friends, her back to us. In her hand, hidden to the crowd but visible to us, she holds a knife. Oh, and her hair: her hair has been braided into a noose. A great image.
The cast is a bunch of young faces you’ll recognize from other 1980s films. And as I mentioned, the film isn’t afraid to have fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s some gore, some decapitation, some stabbings, sure. But there’s also some laughs. I mean, the movie stars Biff Tannen. How can you go wrong with Biff Tannen?
With a crew like Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, make-up by Tony Gardner, and a cast including Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith (and Del Close and Bill Moseley), how can you go wrong?
While I don’t necessarily believe in the need for remakes (nor am I anti-remake — deep breaths), I would hope that the main motivations behind one would be the intention to improve — like in the case of this movie, updating the special effects to make The Blob a brutal, acidic globule. That’s exactly what The Blob does, and it does an amazing job. This blob is gross and ominous and truly threatening. And the damage it does to the people it encounters is painful looking, to say the least.
The plot line is pretty much the same as the original, save for a change of locations — a meteor crashes to Earth, and the space jelly contained inside starts wreaking havoc on the small town; not much needs to be improved upon there, the story is solid.
When it comes to remakes, this is one of the scant few I give a bloody, gnarled thumbs up.
Ah, to be a teen in the 80s. To be able to enjoy every awesome horror release.
Combining everything that was awesome about 80s horror: bored, affluent teens seeking (ultimately) deadly thrills; likable genre actors and actresses; comedy and gore; killer poster art — “Waxwork” goes above and beyond what’s required to become a classic. Not to mention there are 18 (!) different monsters/villains that are used throughout the film. You couldn’t ask for anything more!
The storyline is quick with the set-up and doesn’t hesitate getting to the good stuff: a group of college students discover a newly opened wax museum while on a walk one day. The proprietor invites them to a gathering and, naturally, they accept. When they visit the museum the next night, they find themselves being sucked into the displays and interacting with the scenery directly. One student gets sucked into a werwolf scene, another is sucked into a vampire scene. So forth and so on.
This one always stuck out to me as there’s so much going on, with all the different scenarios and monsters. This was followed by an equally cool/fun sequel.