The 80s vaults just keep swinging open, between indie companies digging up lost films for Blu-ray release, streaming services offering poor quality sources of old movies, and even owners of VHS tapes from back in the day uploading them to YouTube. So let’s take a look at four of the latest I finally get the chance to blog about.
CUT AND RUN (1985)
Don’t let this “cannibal” movie being by director Ruggero Deodato of Cannibal Holocaust fame fool you…it’s a drug war movie that takes place in the jungle, where occasionally a bunch of native cannibals attack and mostly just stab white guys in the neck with pointy weapons. The fact that horror icon Michael Berryman and Willie Ames of Eight is Enough and Charles in Charge are in a movie together in 1985 should tell you everything you need to know.
Berryman, who is one of few oddly white tribe members in the cannibal bunch, appears very few times, but he actually delivers the only two effective scares in the entire film, at the very beginning and very end.
Ames has been chained…
I mean, Ames has been kidnapped by the drug cartel and is being kept in a hut.
A reporter played by Lisa Blount (Dead and Buried, Prince of Darkness) comes to the jungle, and they all try to escape the drug thugs. Once in a while they fight cannibals—that only actually do some disappointingly sterile eating in one scene. Yawn.
Richard Lynch and Karen Black also have minor roles, some corpses pop out of the water and fall from trees, but still…not much of a horror movie, and that’s right down to the late 80s action movie soundtrack.
Nightflyers is based on a novella by popular sci-fi author George RR Martin, and while it’s a rather drawn out adaptation that’s more sci-fi than horror, I can appreciate how insanely 1980s it is.
Catherine Mary Stewart (Night of the Comet) sports Frida “I Know There’s Something Going On” hair a few years before Hellraiser made it an outdated mom hairdo. She and a small group of scientists are on a mission to track down an alien life form on a spaceship.
Turns out this spaceship has a mind of its own…and a hologram captain. The captain takes a shine to Catherine.
80s pop non-star Michael Des Barres (Ghoulies, Waxwork II) is on board as a mind-reading druggy, and a battle between him and Catherine is as 80s as my soul could hope for, and one of the few sci-fi/horror moments in the film.
There are also plenty of spaceship scenes and laser fights that cement the film as the epitome of late-80s cable TV fodder.
EDGE OF THE AXE (1988)
It was always fun when Euro horror took on the 80s slasher genre, because the result would be a weird murder mystery/giallo-esque mess attempting to tap into the U.S. horror market of the time.
Edge of the Axe is a Spanish film in English that delivers brutal, odd kill sequences, beginning with a kill in a car wash! An axe murderer wearing a creepy white mask is hacking up seemingly random people in a small town, and detectives are on the case.
People pop up just to be sliced and diced in some thrilling scenes set to classic 80s horror music. There are chase scenes, body and body part reveals, and even some tragic animal slaughter.
In between the kills, a main guy and girl have a budding relationship. She becomes intrigued by his computer and begins to use the futuristic technology to investigate the murders herself.
And like any good bad Euro horror, things spiral into silly melodrama as the twists start coming on the way to the cheesy reveal of the killer and motivation.
DEADLY MANOR (1990)
The director of Edge of the Axe is back for another slasher just in time to close out the 80s era. This is a fully English language film that starts off looking like Dead Dudes in the House. Sadly, it doesn’t play out like it.
After an opener with totally naked bodies lying around after a car accident, totally 80s kids pick up a totally 80s hitchhiker and together they arrive at a totally creepy old house. This is where we immediately know how bad this is going to be; there’s a crashed car on display on a platform in the yard.
The kids decide to stay in the house for the night. There are coffins in the basement, shrines with pictures of a totally 80s woman all over the house, a crack in the wall, a collection of scalps, a sex scene dream, glimpses of someone wearing a white mask, and shots of a murderer’s lower half.
There are also murders, but most of them happen off screen. In fact, it feels like more bodies turn up than the number of people who get implied death scenes. Tragic.
Eventually there’s a final girl and one of the most ludicrous killer motivation reveals ever. And the final jump scare after the cops show up is laughable…as is the killer.