This was going to be a general blog about a handful of 1980s horror movies, until I realized all my selections are European films. So let’s get into them!
REST IN PIECES (1987)
This odd little Euro horror flick reminds me of a cross between Rosemary’s Baby and Suspiria.
After totally 80s muzak during the intro credits, we meet a young couple that is heading to a mansion…which the wife just inherited from her dead aunt, who committed suicide…and videotaped it!
Oddly, there are a whole bunch of people living in the aunt’s house, and they don’t leave.
Meanwhile, the wife keeps having terrifying visions of her aunt trying to kill her.
It begins to feel like a late 80s thriller as the husband becomes convinced the other housemates are trying to drive the wife mad.
Things shift back to horror with psycho killers, a cult, and some satanic rituals, plus a bit of a twist. Overall this is merely fun for the hokey 80s nostalgia, because it’s not a very good movie.
OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (1982)
It’s low budget zombie horror from director Jess Franco, who scores two movies in this blog. However, he doesn’t quite score with this mess.
Putting it simply, there are approximately two substantial scenes of zombies, and the second one recycles some of the footage from the first one.
In between, there’s a lame plot about treasure hunters looking for lost goodies left behind by Nazis, plus some backstory about the Nazis.
It’s all quite boring, and there’s little in the way of character development.
As for those two zombie scenes, they’re pretty classic zombie stuff, with rotting flesh, icky bugs crawling on the living dead, and some gut munching. Plus, it all happens in daylight, which adds to the fun.
This 80s blog includes a double feature of movies starring scream queen Caroline Munro. In Faceless, she’s a slutty, druggy model who gets abducted by a mad scientist looking to give his sister a face transplant after hers is deformed in an attack.
The last thing you would expect in a grisly European horror movie is Telly Savalas, but the Kojak royalties must have started drying up, so here he is as Munro’s dad, who hires a detective to find her.
Meanwhile, the crazy doctor needs some help with the transplant plan, so he teams up with an old Nazi, and they begin their work…doing test runs that just keep going horrifically bad.
The face peeling gore in this film is about as gross as it gets for this time period.
There’s even a campy scene involving a flamboyant gay man siccing his muscle boy on the detective, which lands Faceless on the does the gay guy die? page.
And of course, because it’s the 80s and this is Euro horror directed by Jess Franco, there are some sleazy and unpleasant sexual situations. Having said all that, this is 80s exploitation for sure, but it’s not a scary movie.
HOWL OF THE DEVIL (1988)
This Spanish film has plenty of weird characters, oddball situations, and sleazy elements that make it feel like a European giallo, yet also goes for a straightforward American slasher formula at times, with basic kills using sharp weapons.
The film is about a womanizing misogynist who hates that his late brother had a career in horror movies. He’s not kind to the young nephew he cares for, who lives in a fantasy world in which his dead father visits him regularly while dressed in various monster costumes he wore in his movies. This happens to be the director Paul Naschy, basically reprising monster roles he played in some of his other films.
There’s also a sinful priest, a weird hobo hanging around warning young women to stay away from the uncle and his house, and scream queen Caroline Munro as the maid who eventually becomes the final girl.
There are plenty of gory kills, witchcraft and the occult come into play, and yet the film is so off the rails that it really doesn’t go anywhere. Plus, it’s kind of obvious who the killer is from the start. That doesn’t mean that I don’t totally want this to come out on Blu-ray so I can add it to my collection.