After the popularity of Friday the 13th in 1980, it wasn’t long before a horror comedy came out called Saturday the 14th. In fact, it was only one year later, and only a few months after Friday the 13th part 2 hit theaters! The curious thing about the Saturday the 14th movies is that they are in no way a spoof of the Voorhees series or slashers.
SATURDAY THE 14TH (1981)
Running only an hour and fourteen minutes, the first film is a vampire comedy about a family that moves into a creepy house inherited from an uncle. And the cast is awesome. The father is Richard Benjamin, who was also in Love at First Bite. The mom is Paula Prentiss of The Stepford Wives. The male vampire is Jeffrey Tambor, who happened to be the landlord of The Ropers when they made the fatal mistake of leaving Three’s Company. He also plays a transgender role on the TV show Transparent.
After an awesome cartoon horror opening sequence, we meet the family. Before long, the young son finds a book of evil! Opening it, he unleashes a series of freaky monsters so that his teenage sister (who looks a lot like Jessica Biel) can show off her amazing scream. This chick should have been in dozens of horror flicks! Anyway, the vampire couple wants the book, so the family calls in none other than Van Helsing to stop them.
Basically, the humor is like Airplane meets Elvira. It’s cheesy and hokey but you can’t help laugh at the quickest, most subtle comic moments. Plus, there are nods to movies like Jaws and The Birds. And the street the house is on is Elm Street! Freaky, since Freddy didn’t hit theaters for another three years! Holy Twilight Zone! Oh. And that happens to be the only show they can get on the TV in the house. So it makes sense that the movie ends with a shocking twist!
SATURDAY THE 14TH STRIKES BACK (1988)
I was able to appreciate the charm of the original, but Saturday the 14th Strikes Back, by the same director, is a fricking 80s disaster. Unrelated to the first film, this one also has a family moving into a house they inherited from an uncle. The teenage son discovers that there’s a crack in the basement, out of which a whole lot of monsters come, bringing nothing but pointless chaos.
On the bright side, the grandfather is played by Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the father is the Doritos guy from the 80s, and the wife is…the woman who played the wife of Jeffrey Tambor on The Ropers! WEIRD. The Hills Have Eyes icon Michael Berryman also plays one of the monsters. AND, the aunt is played by the prostitute Rose befriends when the Golden Girls get arrested on their way to meet Burt Reynolds.
None of that good news makes this mess any better. Basically, the boy has to stop the Dark Master from coming out of the crack and taking over the world. There’s a musical number by a blonde vampire in a red dress. There’s a monster party in the basement. There’s stock footage of natural catastrophes signifying the battle between good and evil. And although it only runs an hour and eighteen minutes, this humorless sequel feels like it’s never going to end.