Now I feel like I’m just getting desperate to remain as immersed in the best decade of my life as much as possible, considering a majority of my recent “80s horror” purchases barely qualify as horror. Let’s see if any of these five flicks satisfied.
A DAY OF JUDGEMENT (1981)
It’s kind of frustrating that so many good horror labels are bringing titles to Blu-ray that are barely worthy of the genre when there are still so many surefire horror flicks that have yet to make it to physical media. But I get that movies like A Day of Judgement may have been passed off as horror in mom and pop video stores in the 80s, and kids who saw it then will today only remember the few moments of horror and snatch it up for the nostalgia.
I snatched it up because it’s one of those rare 80s movies I didn’t know existed back then. As I was watching my new Blu-ray, I was reading the trivia on IMDb, where it specifically explains that this wasn’t a horror film so the studio releasing it forced the creators to insert some horror scenes for marketing. Ugh.
This is a religious film about a reverend deserting his town because its residents have deserted him. No one comes to church anymore, and various stories unfold of how money, greed, sexual sin, and violence have consumed the motivations of the townsfolk.
There’s supposed to be a new reverend arriving to replace the one that’s skipping town, and every once in a while we get glimpses of some sort of reaper approaching, cloaked in Argento lighting and fog machines. Uh-oh.
It almost seems like we’re finally going to get a hellish descent at the end of the film, but the film’s hopeful religious colors take over instead…
Avoid this film. Seriously. Don’t bother watching it, and even if you’re an 80s horror film completist like me, think twice about spending money on it unless you can get it used for at least half the price.
It’s interesting to see this 1981 film for the first time over 40 years later and spot movies it may have influenced or may have been influenced by. Possession is a weird one many compare to David Lynch creations, and with a 2-hour run time it takes a while to get going, but it sure does have a freaky climax.
It’s just really hard to get through most of the film’s focus on the strained relationship between Sam Neill and his wife. Sam, learning she has been cheating on him, becomes extremely violent, so we are subject to a whole lot of spousal abuse.
However, the wife is definitely off, because she kind of goes with the flow. When it comes down to it, the plot feels like it’s about a woman whose husband sucks in bed, so she lures in other much more passionate men to dote on her. But, if you ask me, they also seem to be kind of…scratch that…really gay for Sam.
I was getting major Hellraiser vibes from much of what goes on here as the wife’s story unfold.
At the same time, there’s a scene of a seeming possession that feels like a rip-off of a scene from the 1974 The Exorcist rip-off The Eerie Midnight Horror Show. Not to mention, I think the film may pay homage to Divine’s lobster scene in Multiple Maniacs….
DEVIL STORY (1986)
This French film laughs in the face of the convoluted creations of Italian horror directors of the 80s, giving us a series of unfocused, virtually unrelated events on a horror road to nowhere then calling it a movie.
Devil Story even jumps right into the aftermath of a massacre in the middle of the woods as a deformed killer “cleans up”.
Then he takes down a couple that runs out of gas on the road.
Then our main couple stops at a house at night during a rain storm. Classic horror organ music plays, the couple is welcomed in by an older man and woman who tell tales of ships that go missing in the water and a woman and her misshapen son who live nearby.
Suddenly the visiting female is outside by herself being chased by a black horse. There’s a shipwrecked boat breaking through rocks on the shore (actually, a toy busting through a pile of sand).
There’s a King Tut tomb out of which a mummy pops to start pursuing the main girl. A woman in a white nightgown appears from a coffin and teams up with the mummy to pursue the main girl.
The original deformed killer and his mother pursue the main girl. The deformed killer starts to deform even more.
And all the while the black horse just keeps running in circles nearby.
I have no idea what this movie is supposed to be about, if anything.
SHALLOW GRAVE (1987)
More a suspense thriller than a horror film, Shallow Grave is still so perfectly eighties and begins with an awesome re-enactment of the Psycho shower scene—although it has the very 80s addition of big boobs and bush.
Next, four totally 80s girls go on a road trip to the south. It’s so totally racist when they get to a diner and are spooked by a big Black guy passing by their car. They’re in the south, and it’s a Black guy that scares them???
Anyway, they get a flat, one girl goes to piss in the woods…and she sees a beefy shirtless dude with fantastic 80s hair and a furry chest kill a woman.
Soon the girls are on the run from the psycho, who knows they know too much, and they begin getting picked off one by one.
The film plays out like a psycho stalker action road trip movie.
AMERICAN RICKSHAW (1989)
American Rickshaw is another weird movie that has a hint of horror and therefore got a Blu-ray release marketed to fans of 80s horror. Quite honestly, this movie about a rickshaw operator in Miami has less charm and less horror than Big Trouble in Little China, but at least it’s just as 80s.
After his breakout role in American Anthem, Olympian hottie Mitch Gaylord finished the decade with another movie in which he could take his shirt off a lot.
He plays the rickshaw driver, encounters a mysterious Asian woman with a cat, and then finds himself on the run from the law and organized crime after some dude filming him having sex with a stripper ends up dead.
This is 80s cable trash at its finest. Gaylord bangs the stripper various times. She’s working for a baddie played by the hunky lead from Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.
Donald Pleasence is a televangelist, but barely in the movie.
And Gaylord just continuously dodges trouble, for the Asian woman is some sort of witch leaving dead guys in Gaylord’s path by magically setting fire to them. This shit is so silly.
But hey, at least Gaylord has a non-judgmental conversation with a gay gym bunny coworker. He better with a name like Gaylord. That shit was a go-to insult hurled at the “different” boys in school back in the day.
The film plays out like a cheap action flick until Gaylord finally meets the Asian woman again and she explains the more occult aspects of what is going on.
All I’ll say is that in the end, Donald Pleasence tries to outdo Dee Wallace’s final scene in The Howling, and it’s the best and also most out of place moment in an otherwise horrorless movie.