I can practically smell the dusty shelves at my video store when I drudge up some of these older 80s horror titles to write about, so nostalgia alone makes me cherish them all…no matter how bad some may be.
I never checked this one out when I worked at the video store because it looked like a cheap thriller from the box art…so that’s the section I shelved it in.
Watching it now, I was initially sucked into the 80s of it all, beginning with opening credits featuring one of my faves by Hunters & Collectors.
The soundtrack also includes some XTC and Haysi Fantayzee, so the film gets points for using less obvious new wave.
Second bonus—the main girl works at a video store.
She is convinced her dick boyfriend and asshole sister (perfect pair) are having an affair, so she accepts a date with a strange but nice guy who asks her out at the video store.
Unfortunately, the weird outweighs the nice, because little does she know that he’s the psycho responsible for a rash of murders.
She starts receiving raucous phone calls, he wants to kill her but keeps missing his opportunity, and there’s a weird old dude who shows up inexplicably at the beginning and end of the film, but we’re never led to understand his purpose.
What I’m saying is, after an intriguing setup, this movie turns into an unwatchable mess.
FROM BEYOND (1986)
Stuart Gordon loves his Lovecraft, so he followed up Re-Animator with another adaptation starring Jeffrey Combs as a naive scientist who helps a more dangerously motivated and sexually warped scientist.
The pair creates a machine capable of revealing hideous creatures that are all around us all the time on a different plane. Of course their invention does them one better and pulls the creatures into our existence.
The mad scientist becomes an even madder scientist/deformed monster as a result.
Combs, Ken Foree, and Barbara Crampton team up to investigate the machine, making matters worse.
As is typical with these trippy late 80s horror flicks, the plot is a mess, not much makes sense, and it isn’t scary, but all the creatures and mutations are practical effects heaven, neon lighting abounds, and the sexual sleaziness is 80s perfection.
Plus, Ken Foree gifts us with a long scene in his briefs.
MONKEY SHINES (1988)
George Romero went horror-lite with this popular thriller from the late 80s. Viewing it now, I realize it’s kind of like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? meets Misery…with a crazy monkey running the show.
If you were a gay boy back in the 80s, chances are you drooled over leading man Jason Beghe on the HBO show First and Ten starring Delta Burke (seriously, I have no interest in football, but I tuned in every week).
Which means you were super thrilled that this Romero flick opened with this scene.
He gets into a tragic accident, becomes paraplegic, and can’t do anything for himself…until Cousin Ira from Mad About You, who is his scientist buddy, hooks him up with a brilliant monkey that can do everything for him.
But then man and monkey seem to become telepathically linked, so every time man gets pissed at someone (like his ridiculous caricature of a pain in the ass mother), monkey gets even!
Monkey Shines isn’t gory and not particularly scary, and like most thrillers of the late 80s video era, it is quite formulaic. You can guess where it’s going every step of the way. The one big surprise aside from Jason’s ass is that you get to see Stanley Tucci shirtless.
We also learn how a paraplegic man has sex. And most importantly, Jason’s final battle with the monkey is nice and vicious.
THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM (1988)
Take a novel by Bram Stoker and mix it up in a blender with director Ken Russell’s craziness and you get this confusing and campy late 80s horror flick.
I didn’t love it back in the day, and I can’t say the messy story is any easier to follow after giving the movie more attention now. What thrills me about it is the insane sequences of sex, horror, and religion.
I mean, Jesus being attacked by a giant snake on the crucifix while topless nuns are raped by Roman soldiers? They don’t make movies this offensive anymore.
The general plot is about this vampire/snake woman who comes to town looking for sacrifices to feed to some sort of worm monster from hell. She sets her sights on her neighbor Hugh Grant and a couple of archaeologists he befriends.
The vamp-snake woman carries the movie, from her seduction of a young hitchhiker in a hot tub to her bitchy hissing and venom spitting at a crucifix.
Not to mention it’s a kick watching Hugh Grant hack a vampire in half with a sword.
THE VINEYARD (1989)
It’s like actor James Hong (Blade Runner, The Golden Child, Big Trouble in Little China) realized by the end of the 80s that movies were getting so fricking ridiculous he could write, direct, and star in a bad horror movie and get some more mileage out of his cult career.
In the process it feels like he basically created the template for every Charles Band/Full Moon movie of the 90s.
Hong plays a mad scientist/winery owner who stays young by draining buxom young women’s blood to create a youth serum wine.
I’d say that should tell you all you need to know…but it so doesn’t.
He invites a group of pretty people to his home who think they’re there to audition for a movie.
This leads to a big party with some of the guys in drag, while most of them are in some of the best skimpy athletic clothes the 80s gifted us with.
And if that weren’t an 80s gay horror kid’s wet dream enough, there’s this…
There are also martial arts henchman, voodoo dolls, a witch in the attic, and zombies out in the woods.
It’s pure 80s video store gold just under the wire.