Still chipping away at my ultimate goal to eventually blog about every movie in my personal collection, excluding major horror flicks – unless I find something new to say about them that hasn’t been said ad nauseam by every diehard fan that feels the observation hasn’t been validated until they say it. So I bring you four more flicks – 3 from one of those cheap boxed sets and one from my days as a video store clerk, since it just finally hit DVD.
NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1980)
I actually didn’t even bother to watch this one when I bought a 6-movie collection for a Debbie Harry horror flick. That was a mistake, because this Bigfoot flick blows away all the crappy found footage ones coming out these days (except Exists, the best Bigfoot movie ever).
This gritty monster flick leans more towards a late 1970s vibe, but don’t let the horrendous flute muzak after the opening monster POV kill scene deter you from sticking with it.
A college professor discusses true cases of Bigfoot with his students, and even has a chick who lost her dad to Bigfoot come in to tell a story of an attack on a couple fucking in a van! WTF? It makes for one great kill scene, the guy’s got a great ass, and the body sliding down the windshield rules.
The group heads into the woods to find some crazy lady who supposedly knows a whole lot about Bigfoot, but the kills are all that really matter. It’s not long before we totally see our big hairy monster as he swings a dude in a sleeping bag in a brilliantly long scene complete with dizzying POV.
But even better than that is the biker who stops to take a piss in the bushes and learns that Bigfoot plays rough when he gives handjobs. FULL frontal dick in a 1980 movie! How did I miss this one back in the VHS days?
Shit just goes more bizarr-o, with a Satanic cult thrown in and more tales of Bigfoot attacks around the campfire, including an amazing scene of Bigfoot making two Girl Scouts hack each other up with knives.
The final massacre in the crazy lady’s house is just the icing on the cake, with slow mo carnage as everyone is torn to bits. This scene goes on foreeeeever and I fricking love it.
SHADOW PLAY (1986)
I felt my horror queen Dee Wallace slipping away from me back in the day when she made this “supernatural” romance co-starring Cloris Leachman as the mother of her deceased fiancé. What a relief that I’m Dangerous Tonight, Popcorn, and Alligator II, brought her back to us in the early 90s.
Dee plays a grieving playwright suffering writer’s block due to the anger she feels towards her fiancé for committing suicide.
Hoping for some sort of closure she accepts when Leachman invites her to stay at the family home…on a creepy isolated island…with a creepy lighthouse.
Pretty soon, Dee is seeing transparent footage – I mean – the ghost of her fiancé in windows.
She starts to get romantically involved with his brother, played by Jan Brady’s husband from The Brady Brides on.
Dee runs a theatre group. Dee gets hit on by a pretty boy from the group who looks so 80s gay (aka: so 80s).
Dee keeps seeing the ghost. Dee makes love to the brother. Dee fights with the brother. Dee gets angry at a photo of her fiancé numerous times. Someone keeps reframing it. Dee goes to a psychic medium.
Dee gets ample opportunity to demonstrate her amazing ability to have emotional meltdowns on demand.
Dee looks so good with her long hair grown back to its The Howling length after having it short while playing a mom during the E.T./Cujo years.
The dark secret that has her fiancé trying to communicate with her finally comes out in a melodramatic climax up in the lighthouse. Is it horrific or shocking? No. But it has probably been recycled on Lifetime originals at least once yearly for the past two decades.
SISTER, SISTER (1987)
This is the directorial debut of Bill Condon, who would go on to bring us Gods & Monsters, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Dreamgirls, and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2.
It’s actually a pretty atmospheric gothic mystery with touches of horror…although I did pass it up back in the day when I worked in the video store.
Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a weird chick (her range is astounding) who runs a B&B with her older sister in Louisiana.
Plagued by sexy scary dreams featuring a guy with a great ass looking kind of like he’s riding her dick instead of fucking her, she is constantly nagged by her sister to take her pills, but we’re not clued in as to what she takes them for (clearly she would be diagnosed with JJL Syndrome today). They also have some sort of knowledge about what became of a young man who went missing years before.
Their eccentric guests include a Cruella de Vil lady and Eric Stolz, who takes a shine to JJL. But her sister is determined to keep them apart. The big moment when the couple defies her cock-blocking is so ridiculously melodramatic it feels like it was filmed just to arrive at the perfect publicity still of Stolz and JJL.
Meanwhile, JJL spouts shit about ghosts, is spied on by someone through a hole in her bedroom ceiling, and begins to grow increasingly paranoid as tensions build between she and her sister.
Something awful happens to her dog and there’s one murder that’s right out of Friday the 13th.
But soon after, the killer comes out in the open and brags-brags-brags about the brilliant, dastardly plan…that resulted in a body count of ONE? Yawn.
While my sudden hopes for slasher madness in the final act were quickly dashed, the flashbacks to what really transpired between the two sisters is vicious and adds an interesting twist.
However, it’s immediately negated by the silly inclusion of actual ghosts and a hilarious return to bad slasher tropes for the final frame, when Stolz leaps in for one of the most graceful, robotic, well-dressed cheap jump scares ever.
TRUTH OR DARE?: A CRITICAL MADNESS (1986)
You knew the well had run dry in the video store horror section when you finally got around to renting Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness by Tim Ritter, director of Killing Spree.
Turns out when a killer commits murders, gets thrown in a mental institution, escapes, and repeats the cycle all over again multiple times within a single movie without a sequel in sight, you seriously start to feel like you’re going crazy.
As straightforward as that plot sounds, Truth or Dare? manages to present so many hallucinations, flashbacks, and time jumps that it loses any sense of cohesiveness.
Some dude catches his wife fucking another guy. Everything busted but the nut…
He imagines a fucked up encounter with a prostitute (with amazing 80s hair) by a campfire. He gets tossed in a mental institution. He gets released. He commits murder.
He’s locked away again. He does insane shit at the mental institution. He escapes. He has major explosive car chases with cops. He wears a mask.
He kills random people. But his ultimate goal is always to get the wife that cheated on him.
Quirky, bloody, often comical, and featuring a young A.J. Mclean of the Backstreet Boys in a flashback as the young killer slicing his wrist with a razor, Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness is…it’s…a direct-to-video movie from the 80s that apparently was in high enough demand to get a DVD release now that the format is nearly 20 years old, following in the shadows of Blu-ray and Ultra HD, and probably going to go extinct soon. So you be the judge.