In the never-ending stream of horror movies I watch, I often find common threads for themed posts like this one, which includes what are in essence three very different types of films: an undead haunting, a creature feature, and a slasher.
So in what way did I justify to myself that these three flix deserved to be spotlighted together? Aside from all seeming derivative of well-known horror movies based on their general plots, Dead and Gone, Gremlin, and The Ice Cream Truck struck a very particular chord with me. Each captures an aspect of 80s horror often overlooked in the many films that go for the throwback vibe these days—a lot of 80s horror films were fricking weird! From strange concepts and meandering plots to questionable character motives and ridiculous character decisions, so much of it almost seemed unrealistic, absurd, trippy…sort of like you’d entered the Twilight Zone. Weirdest of all, we GenX kids just totally went with it and had a blast.
Having stunted grown into a big GenX kid might explain why I still fill my days watching every lowbrow indie I can while a wider horror audience is busy griping that smart horror isn’t getting recognized by the Academy Awards. And it’s why I didn’t miss out on these three awesome flicks.
DEAD AND GONE (2008)
Holy 80s throwback. Dead and Gone is like a sexy The Hitcher episode screwing a dastardly Tales from the Crypt episode in a campy Evil Dead cabin.
A hot young stud comes to live in a rundown old cabin in the woods with his comatose wife—a woman who promised to make him a star but instead made him her trophy boy.
As he spends his days chopping wood, contemplating what he’s going to do with his life—and his wife, and getting advice from Felissa Rose over the phone, he’s visited by some quirky locals…and the “ghost” of his out of body wife. There’s a freaky scene of her floating up behind him that is horror movie gold.
Shit gets whacky for our leading hottie, including an unexpected connection with the female constable…
…a disturbing run-in with a hillbilly that really wants a piece of him…
…and television personalities that break the fourth wall and talk directly to him (including Zack Ward as a weatherman).
It all leads to the unleashing of supernatural forces that appear to be trying to drive him mad in good old comic Deadite style. Even the original dude from the band Evanescence terrorizes him, and he’s fricking funny, even when he’s in pieces.
I jumped on Amazon so fast to order the DVD I nearly made the streaming movie come to a crashing halt.
I won’t even state the obvious, but I will state the second obvious—it’s not plural. This family is terrorized by just one little critter.
It comes into their life thanks to a mysterious box they unexpectedly inherit.
See, the way to get this little bastard to stop fucking up everyone in your life is to…give the box to someone you love!
Thanks a lot, grandma.
Once the family discovers that secret, they contemplate their options, leading to some major family dysfunction.
As they try to formulate a different plan, the slinky little monster keeps coming out, and the body count continues to rise.
Even though no one in the family is ever going to move out on their own, the good news is, there’s no need to finish the basement. The bad news is, it’s going to start to smell after a while.
You’re doing that backwards. Sigh…straight guys.
There are some good kills, some great twists that prove this family is anything but perfect, and most importantly, there is…the daddy of all daddies.
Adam Hampton is an instant Dan crush. Adam Hampton is the kind of daddy that can wave his magic wand and I’ll watch any horror flick he’s in…even if his next one is called The Jurassic Games, and 25 years ago, after watching Carnosaur, I swore off any future dinosaur release that is not an official Jurassic Park film.
Gremlin is just bizarre enough to fit the 80s mold, Adam Hampton’s battle with the gremlin is loads of fun (especially the football helmet scene), and the unexpected change in the gremlin in the final act is one you just won’t see coming—but should if you grew up in the 80s.
The only down side to this fun creature feature is that Adam Hampton takes a shower, but we don’t see anything below the shoulders!
What the hell? He better not have a “no nudity” clause! I want to see furry tits in The Jurassic Games, damn it!
Meanwhile, do you have any idea how hard it is to get a clear freeze-frame of daddy ass in action?
THE ICE CREAM TRUCK (2017)
It would be easy to give The Ice Cream Truck a quick glance and presume it’s just a total rip-off of the trashy 1995 slasher Ice Cream Man with Clint Howard.
However, if you actually take the time to watch the film and immerse yourself in it, you’ll discover it’s much more of a surreal social commentary on the myth of suburban utopia.
In fact, it paints suburbia as an unsettling dystopia, where the psycho ice cream man may be the obvious villain, but every neighbor seems to be on the verge of snapping and doing something so awful to you that you end up being the reason their flower garden looks so beautiful.
A young woman moves into her new home ahead of her husband and kids and quickly becomes acquainted with the noticeably odd women on the block…
…the creepy moving guy…
…and the hot graduate next door who offers to do work around her house.
There’s also the spooky old-fashioned ice cream truck that regularly drives (in always eerily effective slow motion) down the street…
The film truly does create a constant sense of foreboding. While everyone is nice enough to the new girl in town, they all seem to be hiding dirty little secrets. So it should be no surprise that these nasty bitches are also totally judgmental!
Which is where the ice cream man comes in. If you listen to the things he says and take into account those he opts to kill, there’s an irony to his nostalgic longing for theoretical idyllic times of the past when neighborhoods were simply more wholesome…