Maybe these flix will get quality releases on DVD one day, but there’s something about snagging grainy full-frame versions from YouTube that brings me right back to the first time I popped the videotapes into my VCR….
THE PREY (1984)
Well, this slasher was released in 84, but apparently it was filmed in 1978. I assume that’s true, because it opens with a wildfire in 1948, and then that fire is referenced in “the present” as having taken place 40 years ago.
So yeah. There’s a wildfire. That’s the big shocker opening. Okay, there’s also a pretty classic slasher opening of an older couple in the woods getting chopped up by a killer POV after we fast forward to the present. In fact, the whole movie is killer POV. We only see the killer at the end.
A group of young campers heads into the woods. They run into one of the hottest fricking 1970s bearded park rangers EVER. The girls are smitten.
When guy wedgies were fashionable….
The Prey is a demonstration of how you can turn an hour long slasher into an hour and 20 minute slasher if you pad it with endless shots of wildlife—shots of birds, snakes, bears, bugs. It’s like watching National Geographic. Along with that, it has guys in amazingly tight jeans, campfire stories, banjo playing, an occasional kill, a waterfall romp with the guys shirtless in tight shorts, rock climbing, Uncle Fester as a not hot park ranger, and then…
We’re down to one girl. Unlike traditional slashers, you really don’t know she’s going to be the final girl, and you don’t really even try figuring out who will be the final girl. But at least you do get to see the creepy killer at the end.
The Prey has a pretty good slasher atmosphere and some cool kills, as well as a good killer, but there’s little actual storyline holding all the death scenes together. The feel of the movie also reminds me a lot of the film Just Before Dawn.
As far as I understand, the 1986 British horror film Screamtime is actually just 3 horror shorts that were compiled with a wraparound story for a full-length feature release. I’m not complaining. I think many short features should be given this opportunity.
So anyway, the wraparound is about some dudes who steal three horror flix from a video store (the 80s rule) and then sit down to watch them….
The first story is quite memorable, because it feels like I just watched it yesterday even though it has been over two decades. It’s about an older guy who does a Punch and Judy puppet show. His wife and son are fed up with his obsession and start coming down on him for it.
Before long, it seems Punch is taking revenge on those who wrong his puppeteer. We see a big old Punch stick battering victims and Punch makes hideous noises. This story is quite creepy with classic dark lighting and eerie shadows. There’s even an awesome chase scene near the end.
The second story is one that has always stuck with me. It’s about a couple who movies into a new house, and the wife starts to see horrible things that aren’t really there—a child riding a bicycle in the yard, bloody bodies in her bed, and finally, a gruesome slaughter of a family at the hands of a murderer. This has one of the most awesome paranormal twists EVER. And interestingly, a couple of years ago, I was watching a movie called Psychosis starring Charisma Carpenter (blog here) and quickly realized it was the same exact story as this one, drawn out into a full-length film. Yep. It’s a remake of this goodie.
The third story is the one that didn’t stick with me much at all. This dude gets a job doing yard work at the home of some old ladies. They warn him about the fairies in the yard—treat them nice and they’ll treat you nice. Treat them poorly, and they can become very unpleasant. You can imagine what happens….
BLOOD RAGE (1987)
Blood Rage was apparently filmed in 1983 and not released until 1987 (so many movies ahead of their time). It definitely looks amazingly 83. The short shorts and headbands are phenomenal, and the opening new wave song rox. The film is also loaded with awesome gore, dark lighting and shadows, synth stabs, and killer POV.
Blood Rage also happens to fill the Thanksgiving Day slasher theme that seemed so elusive until Thankskilling was released. And it has an alternate title: Nightmare at Shadow Woods. For a list of more Thanksgiving horror flicks, check out my holiday horror page.
The awesome opener takes place at a drive-in. Fricking Louise Lasser (aka: Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) and her man are in a car with her twin boys in the back. The boys sneak out, the twin named Terry magically finds an axe at a drive-in, and then hacks up a fricking hot shirtless dude making out with his girl in another car. When Mary Hartman runs toward the screams, Terry tells her his brother Todd did it!
Hey bro, could you hold this bloody axe for a sec?
Like a decade later, Todd is in a mental institution, the family is having a nice Thanksgiving dinner, Todd escapes from prison, and Terry decides it’s time to frame him again! We are bombarded by a cast of random characters, numerous deaths, and way too much changing of outfits by the twins to keep track of which one is Terry and which one is Todd.
There’s some sweet man ass during a pool scene, Mary Hartman has a total Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman meltdown, and then the final girl has a great chase scene complete with body reveals (and head reveals). If you can, see the “composite” cut included on the Blu-ray, which combines two different versions of the film for the longest, goriest version ever.
Hey, none of these films is flawless, but man is it a good trio for a nostalgia night.