Bette Davis leads the charge as we enter the eighties with this trio of films I’ve finally added to my collection. Let’s have a look.
THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS (1980)
The most frightening scenes of this Disney supernatural film are the kick ass alternative opening in the Blu-ray extras consisting of POV approaching a little girl playing with her doll in the woods, and an alternate ending with a giant bug thing coming down to take away one of the main characters.
Thanks to what was left on the cutting room floor, we end up with a boring, repetitive film about a teenager trying to figure out what became of a girl who went missing years before.
A family, including a young Kyle Richards as one of the kids, comes to live in a home with Bette Davis. The older teen daughter immediately begins to get visions of a young woman wearing a blindfold.
As the story unfolds and is repeated over and over, we learn Bette’s daughter disappeared years before.
So the main teen starts to pick apart the puzzle pieces of what could have happened to her.
With the same info and same spooky gimmicks happening constantly, this short, 83-minute movie feels like it’s two hours long—and leads to a convoluted final act that’s painfully anti-climactic despite dabbling in witchcraft, the occult, aliens, and a secret supernatural society.
DEADLY GAMES (1982)
I’ve seen a lot of pseudo-slashers from the 80s, but this is perhaps one of the weirdest.
It begins with a woman being chased through her home by an intruder all in black and then dying without the intruder actually even touching her. Every decision this woman makes in this scene sets the women’s rights movement back like twenty years. And the way things are going in this country right now, that would put it at about 1930.
Her sister comes back to town and spends much of the movie getting reacquainted with old friends. She also starts a relationship with the hot detective on the case…who gets her to warm up to his odd friend, played by Steve Railsback, who runs a local theater.
The kills are few and far between, but this killer goes to some serious lengths to murder victims, like getting into a pool in full killer costume to tie a woman’s leg to a filter vent. WTF?
What makes this film so weak is that it glosses over the actual themes that are supposed to give it life. It’s basically about the psychological trauma of war, as well as bonds bordering on homosexual desire that can form between men who went through such life-altering experiences together.
The two male leads regularly play a horror board game together, and as the film progresses, they get into a weird sort of throuple relationship with the main girl, complete with a hokey montage set to a cheesy ballad. The problem is it is so obvious who the killer is and who the red herring is right from the start. It’s insulting if the film’s creators think they’re tricking us.
As dull as the film is, at least it ends with a chase scene, body reveal, and shocker final frame (that is not very shocking).
REVENGE OF THE DEAD (aka: Zeder) (1983)
The news is out that this movie is not a living dead zombie film despite the alternate title. So what kind of movie is it? It is an overly long Euro horror film that offers very little in the way of horror as the main man investigates some supernatural studies of the past.
A young journalist buys a used typewriter, and some words are still written on the ribbon. He learns they are about experiments in which the mad scientist believed there’s a non-plane of existence where death doesn’t exist and the dead can therefore return from it.
He spends almost 90 minutes meeting with various people to learn more about the experiments. The most exciting part of all this would be his swimsuit.
He eventually sneaks onto property surrounded by a fence and sees a video of a dude who sacrificed himself to prove the theory is true.
The dead dude suddenly pops up through some floorboards and the idiot main guy runs right over them in his attempt to escape. Does he get away? Hey, if you really want to sit through this yawnfest, I’m not going to spoil it by telling you the end.