Let’s face it. Grannies have been scaring little kids since the beginning of time! They make the perfect horror movie monster. So here’s a trio of granny horror flix to watch if you’re looking for a horror movie marathon theme.
RABID GRANNIES (1988)
These ain’t no Cujo grannies. These old hags morph into puking, gut munching, clawing demons! Now this is my kind of movie.
While previous releases of the DVD have featured a cut of the film with all the gore removed…then included them as “deleted scenes” in the extras…the Blu-ray was supposed to change that. And it did. The film has all the gore included. However, about 20 minutes of the beginning of the movie have been removed! There’s a “producer’s cut,” but that turns out to be the same exact cut running 90 seconds longer because there’s 90 seconds of blank screen at the beginning. What a mess.
Lloyd Kaufman has written a letter to fans on the Troma site explaining that the 20 minutes of footage from the beginning of the film was unnecessary padding added to make it the proper length of a movie, and the shorter, hour and ten minute long version is the version the creators intended. And honestly, he’s right even if it’s not true. The Blu-ray includes a DVD of the film—the 90-minute censored version, and that first 20 minutes is BORING. It’s all dialogue between the family members heading to the grannies’ house and none of it manages to create a slow burn; there’s no anticipation of horror at all in the footage.
Considering Rabid Grannies is pretty much a Demons / Evil Dead / Night of the Demons clone, who the fuck cares about these characters? The shorter version happily gets right to it. We are briefly introduced to the family members, they get to the house and sit down for dinner, a creepy lady comes and delivers a birthday package to the home, the grannies open it, and within minutes, they are tearing family members to shreds!
I fricking love it. There are also complaints about the Blu-ray having a crappy image, but the dark, grainy look throws me right back to the other nasty Euro demon monster movies of the 80s. Rabid Grannies is a perfect product of its time, filled with really gross gore and demon insanity!
GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE (1988)
1988 was a bad year for grannies! Grandmother’s House (not sure why the cover says “Grandma”) is a very different film though. After losing both parents, a brother and sister come to live with their grandparents. At first the boy, who is the younger of the siblings, begins to believe grandma and grandpa are up to no good, possibly storing dead bodies in the basement. It makes for some seriously creepy scenes, but is the boy just imagining it as he adjusts to his new surroundings? And what is b-movie scream queen Brinke Stevens doing lurking in the shadows?
Although granny is definitely in on the dark family secret, grandpa, played by Uncle Leo from Seinfeld, is the much more menacing presence in the home. And as this slow burn suddenly bursts into a final, never-ending chase scene, Brinke Stevens plays a bigger role, giving what I think is one of her best horror movie performances ever.
On top of all that, after the initial twist, there’s a twist on that twist in the final scene, and it goes to a heavy place. But while the film is very serious and creepy, there’s one scene involving a runaway rocket in the basement that gives Grandmother’s House just the dose of cheese every 80s movie needs.
Granny from 1999 is not to be confused with The Granny from 1995. I so wish I could have included that film here but it is so MIA right now. Hopefully it will get a DVD release some day, or at least a streaming release.
Granny gets slammed on the Internet. But honestly, if director Boris Pavlovsky had been given a bigger budget to make the film, I would advise him not to change much about his approach to making it. Running only about an hour long (perfect), it’s about a group of friends hanging together in a house, drinking and talking about relationships and sex. When talk turns to personal fears, one guy says he can actually demonstrate his phobia, which is inspired by the grandmother of one of the other friends.
Before long, someone in a dress and one of those creepy grandma masks is roaming the house and hacking everyone up with an axe. Granny is seriously the star here. The person in the costume totally knows how to use physical movement and gestures to create a scary-assed presence.
Along with that, the combination of a tension-building soundtrack and just the right moments of silence establish quite the suspenseful slasher atmosphere, as does Pavlovsky’s setup shots. All the typical pitfalls of a low-budget movie aside, he knows how to create an effective horror film mood and pull off pretty good kills. And while the plot is pretty simple, there’s a cool twist at the end of the film that promises a sequel.
Pavlovsky should have been given more opportunities to make horror films, but it appears Granny was his only creation.