It’s always a treat to find 80s movies that passed me by back in the day to add to my collection. Gotta thank all the boutique labels for digging these three up. Let’s get right into them.
NIGHT SCREAMS (1987)
How awesome to be totally satisfied by a hokey slasher I never saw in the 80s. Night Screams has the distinction of running 85 minutes long because the makers were forced to insert random clips from both the 1981 slasher Graduation Day and a porno film to pad the timing (characters are actually watching them on TV). The end credits are also padded with an entire five-minute clip recap of the movie. In other words, if not padded, the film would have run a sweet 75 minutes long. In fact, there’s a bonus Blu-ray disc with the 4k release that includes an 80-minute cut without the Graduation Day/porno inserts.
The film opens perfectly, with a couple getting killed and then the killer playing “Chopsticks” on a piano. That’s how you start an 80s slasher.
The score for the film is 80s slasher music gold, as are the kills, and the film uses a classic formula…escaped mental patients! It also delivers quickly on a classic trope—locker room scene!
The great news is there’s a boys locker room seen with all the guys shirtless and in their underwear making homoerotic comments to each other, while the girls in their locker room are already fully dressed and talking about boys. Awesome.
The whole point of the plot is that the star football player is having a party for his friends. The mental patients end up at the same house. The football player has anger issues, is stressed by all the pressure to succeed, and…forgot to take his meds. Uh-oh. There are plenty of red herring here, so you’ll either have no idea who is really doing all the killing or think it was totally obvious once it’s revealed.
In true 80s fashion, there’s the equivalent of a Solid Gold dancers number as a band plays behind them, there’s club dancing, there’s a slow dance, there’s a sex scene…everything we want in our 80s slashers.
On top of that, the kills are smartly spaced apart, executed in perfect 80s slasher style, and use a variety of unique techniques to get the job done. Best of all, in the last 20 minutes they come fast and furious.
Night Screams most definitely deserves to be recognized as one of the better bad knockoff slashers that saturated the market back in the 80s.
HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN (1988)
Hard to imagine that Roddy Piper was in this film the same year he was in the classic They Live.
In a post-nuclear war world, most men are no longer virile, but Roddy Piper is.
He’s captured, has a sort of chastity belt wrapped around his groin that shocks him when he gets horny, and is then sent on a mission with two hot babes to save and seed a bunch of women that have been captured by mutant frog people.
If only there were frog people throughout this film. The first 45 minutes are comprised of just 80s sexual excess as Roddy keeps trying to save his dick from the deep fryer as the two women with him constantly try to seduce him.
Once we meet the frog people, they abduct Roddy, and it’s like we’re transported to the cantina and Jabba’s palace on Tatooine.
Roddy tries to keep things fun and campy, but he doesn’t have much to work with beyond a frog lady he must fend off when she gets the hots for him.
The real battle with the frog people is saved for the last 20 minutes. A dull and disappointing film, it at least has that cheesy 80s vibe if you need some nostalgia.
ALIEN FROM THE ABYSS (1989)
I love me some dubbed Euro horror from the 80s. This Italian sci-fi flick comes from the director of Killer Fish and Cannibal Apocalypse. Having said that, this is disappointingly boring until way into the final act.
Two environmentalists come to investigate the practices of a facility on an island.
Turns out the facility is dumping radioactive waste into a volcano, creating a mutant creature in the process.
However, the facility baddies spend the first fifty minutes just chasing the environmentalists around the island. Yawn.
More than 50 minutes in, a small squid-like life form is discovered by some divers and proceeds to disintegrate their faces with acid. Yay!
60 minutes in, a giant claw starts chasing our heroes through the facility for a while until they finally fight back with flamethrowers and a tractor. We’ve seen it all before, but it’s still fun, and the creature looks like it’s part monster and part machine.