For this installment of my 80s Slasher Vault series, I look at some 80s slashers that were basically locked in a vault that was then locked in another vault.
HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY 5 (1985)
A slasher so unknown and so bad the director decided to make a sequel 30 years later. However, after seeing Horror House on Highway 5, I have no intentions of sitting through the 2014 film Horror House on Highway 6. No, seriously, I mean it…at the moment….
Sadly, a curiously entertaining low-budget piece of slasher schlock gets completely lost inside a shit load of nonsense. I can’t even give you a briefing on the plot because it’s utter chaos. However, I’ll point out what little I determined was actually happening.
Two brothers—one weird, one apparently mentally disabled—play with Tarot cards then seem to do a ritual to bring a Nazi rocket scientist back to life. They also kidnap some chick and plan to kill her. The weird brother thinks he has a parasite in his head. The mentally disabled brother likes the girl and doesn’t want to kill her.
In other news, a couple of people in a house are killed by someone wearing a Richard Nixon mask. Nixon then hangs out on the side of a dark road, killing off anyone who drives by.
When all is said and done, I think the brothers’ ritual worked and the Nazi rocket scientist was the killer in the Richard Nixon mask.
There are actually some moments of classic 80s slasher atmosphere. Also, some of the never-ending, totally weird moments from the film are entertaining, but honestly, it’s not worth it. My favorite part is when a dude gets a rake through his head as a result of falling while being chased by Nixon. He gets up, walks away with the rake stuck in his head, and appears back on the scene a while later as another character is trying to get away from Nixon. She grabs the rake, he says, “My head hurts. Don’t pull the rake—“
She pulls out the rake, and he drops dead. Why couldn’t the rest of the film live up to this brilliance?
A bunch of kids heads to a cabin in the woods.
They have run-ins with the sheriff and a weird old man, blast a lot of 80s pop rock, go swimming, tell campfire stories before a prank scare, and have sex in the woods.
And of course, the guys occasionally look a bit queer….
Sounds amazing, right? Well, after one of the guys reads a book about a curse involving flesh-eating Vikings, the group starts to get killed by a savage wearing a bear pelt and bear head. Or is that an actual bear? Wait, there’s a savage and a bear! And where did all the dead bodies in the woods come from all of a sudden when most of the cast is still alive?
After the mysterious mass body reveal, there’s a lot of walking through foggy woods, because the kids stick together.
But that doesn’t even matter. When the savage attacks one of them, the others just kind of stand around screaming and watching. And then…the bear and the savage get into a wrestling match while one of the survivors cheers for the bear.
The good news is, this is one of the best scenes in the film because it appears to be a real bear. I just seriously had no idea what was going on as the film moved toward a lackluster finale.
BLOOD HARVEST (1987)
Although it’s from 1987, Blood Harvest looks like it came from the early 80s, which is a good sign, but it begins with a horrible banjo theme song during the opening credits, which is a bad sign. That’s because the whole movie is a bit of both signs.
Some chick comes home from school, finds her house eerily ransacked and vandalized, her parents missing, and a creepy clown in the house, played by fricking Tiny Tim of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” fame.
But since his brother is her cute next door neighbor, she just accepts that the clown is harmless, shrugging it off every time he suddenly appears out of nowhere inside her house in his full clown costume.
She’s convinced something bad happened to her parents and is sure someone is sneaking into her house at night (you know, someone other than the harmless clown) while she’s sleeping. She’s right.
However, she’s distracted from her fears when her new boyfriend – Peter Krause of Six Feet Under —comes over for sex.
Soon, anyone who comes to visit her gets murdered and strung up in a barn. It’s so obvious who the killer is, but the movie actually gets better as it progresses, ending up in classic slasher mode.
There are brutal attacks and kills, the music and lighting are spot on for a slasher of the era, and the killer is deliciously psychotic during the intense final chase scene.
BLOOD TRACKS (1985)
One of the lesser-known heavy metal horror films, Blood Tracks stars unknown, real 80s hair band Easy Action, who put out two full-length albums back then.
The band and crew head up a snowy mountain to film a video in an abandoned warehouse. Instead, they film the video out in the snow, and after we’re teased with snippets of their amazing video performance, the blaring music creates an avalanche!
But this is one slow moving avalanche. Like, so slow that everyone just keeps going about their business: the place they’re staying in shakes every once in a while, a couple having sex in a car gets buried under snow, everyone goes outside to dig them out. Plus we occasionally get a quick shot of the snow moving down the mountain….
As bad as all this sounds, Blood Tracks doesn’t bother trying to help Easy Action’s music career for long, choosing instead to focus on delivering some kick ass horror, even if it is a chaotic mess. Some characters attempt to plan a rescue mission, but a majority of them—none of which we can actually tell apart—start roaming the warehouse. They are then killed off by members of a hideous, savage family that lives in the building.
There are beheadings, torching, impalement, and people being thrown off catwalks. There are boobs, booby traps, blood, chases, and fighting. I generally hadn’t the foggiest clue as to what was going on, but it sure did provide plenty of cheap slasher thrills and perfectly grotesque killers that make this one unforgettable.
Well, the grotesque killers and the killer 80s rock of Easy Action.