It’s a foursome of flicks I’ve just added to my collection from the best decade of my existence, and even includes some gay stuff, so let’s get into them.
NIGHT OF DEATH (1980)
It’s so odd to find movies still being released just on DVD, but this French film is one of them. Night of Death has a familiar plot—a young woman comes to work at an isolated house, in this case a retirement home. Everyone is weird, from employees to residents. And slowly but surely, our main girl uncovers the horrors that are really going on in the house.
The atmosphere is great, with moody, shadowy lighting, the horror score is great, with lilting female vocal tones and dramatic orchestral horror music, and the gore is great as well.
The problem with Night of Death is that there’s absolutely no mystery for the audience. We are shown early in the film exactly what is going on, and so we just sit around for most of the movie waiting for the main girl to catch up with us.
It’s all terrifying to her as it unfolds, but so much of the terror is simply robbed from us because we know too much.
Sort of like a rape/revenge exploitation flick without the rape or the victim getting revenge, Siege is shockingly ahead of its time in taking on gay subject matter while sending a bunch of mixed signals at the same time.
After being introduced to a handful of straight people, we are suddenly thrust into a gay bar where everyone is impressively coupled up, yet they all look like a bunch of weirdos. Of course that could just be because they’re 80s clubbers…
We don’t get to know any of the gay characters, for seconds later a bunch of thugs comes in with weapons to terrorize them. Here’s the eerie part. Aside from the usual derogatory terms and predictable anti-gay comments, these bashers call themselves the “new order”, claim that while everyone else these days (1983) feels they have to sound liberal (I was there, no they didn’t), they have the guts to say what no one else will…queers are not normal, against the laws of nature, intent on corrupting people, etc., and the new order won’t just sit by and let it happen.
And then…the bartender pulls out a gun and calls the new order a bunch of fascists! Holy shit this movie feels like it was scripted in 2020.
Awesomely, the queers all cheer for the bartender to shoot the new order. Annoyingly, none of them seems to notice the bad guy so obviously about to knock the gun from his hand. Naturally there’s a moment that has the new order intending to sodomize a queer, but this film doesn’t go there. Instead, the new order quickly executes everyone in the bar.
But one gay gets away. Yay! There’s a chase scene, and eventually the gay guy begs for help at the apartment of the straight people we met at the beginning. The group ends up trapped in the apartment fighting back against the new order in basic action/thriller home invasion style with a whole variety of weapons and explosives.
So here’s the thing. At first the people in the apartment question whether they should even help the gay guy or kick him out. Surprisingly, they quickly determine they have to help him, which is very cool. Unfortunately, this makes it sort of like the gay guy brought all his troubles into the normal everyday life of innocent straight people.
And what’s worse is the gay guy fucking hides for the whole movie while they do all the fighting and dying, and only comes out near the end and apologizes, saying he was scared. Ugh.
THE BRIDE (1985)
As both an 80s whore and horror whore, I’m ashamed to say I’ve only just added The Bride to my movie collection now. It was one of those films I just could never get into when it was on cable back in the day despite the allure of Sting, Jennifer Beals, and a monster.
Of course, it doesn’t take place in the 1980s, so there was that…
However, revisiting it as an adult over 30 years later I can see why I didn’t appreciate it then. It’s more a gothic romance than a horror film. And I can appreciate it much more now for a variety of reasons.
The opening scene fantastically jumps right into the doctor’s lab, which is stunningly brought to life on this film’s set, especially in high definition. And it’s hard not to read some submissive sexual dungeon vibes into the way the bride is first presented, entirely bound in bandages and strung up spread eagle in the air.
It was always an eye roller for me that the monster looks like a monster, but when the doctor unwraps the bride, she is virtually a model before even taking a comb to her high, wild hair (the most anachronistic 80s thing about the film other than Sting and Jennifer Beals).
But in actuality, her being flawless makes sense because a) the doctor has better perfected his skills after creating one human, and b) naturally he’s going to be shallow about the physical appearance of his female creation and pick hotter body parts (ew). And it’s even more important in this film considering he is immediately enthralled by her beauty and casts out the monster so it won’t be able to have her.
That’s where this film splits in two, and as a guy who loathes the excessive forcing of gay interpretations onto every damn horror movie that ever existed these days, even I’m shocked this one hasn’t been given any analysis (stress on the anal), because it’s kinda gay.
On the one hand we have Sting falling in love with Jennifer Beals as he grooms her and makes her into a high society woman. There’s one scene in which she slips and acts slightly monstrous, but that’s it. Otherwise, she’s just lovely and demure and longs to know who she is and where she came from, and he tries his best to keep the truth from her.
On the other hand, the monster, played by horror veteran Clancy Brown, teams up with a little man to run away. These two traveling “misfits” grow incredibly close, with the monster always carrying the little man on his shoulder, and they eventually take a job performing as a pair of “fools” in a circus. Many of their scenes capture that tone, bringing a light, humorous charm to their chemistry. Seriously, their relationship is more loving than that of Sting and Jennifer. I mean, just look where the monster has his hand as they walk past this shirtless juggler…
In the end, a male/male relationship simply cannot be, and the monster must come home to battle the doctor for his bride (bah!), and there’s something curiously symbolic about this scene…
The one plot point that seems to get dropped after it is barely presented is a telepathic link between the monster and the bride. There’s a blatant moment when the monster experiences the same exact thing the bride is from far away, but the concept is never revisited, which is sort of a huge plot hole.
LUCIFER (aka: Goodnight God Bless) (1987)
Released on DVD as Goodnight God Bless, Lucifer is a totally lost film for me. I’d never seen it, making it so satisfying because it really hit my 80s spot good. This is one I would have watched numerous times on cable had it been on HBO in heavy rotation back then.
The opening is a haunting look at our future as a mysterious figure in black approaches a playground…and goes on a shooting rampage, killing one kid after another. The only thing we can determine is that the killer is a priest. (Un)holy shit!
The detective on the case meets with a surviving girl and her mother, and then becomes involved with them. In the meantime, the priest continues his murder spree, switching his weapon to a carving knife. How very 80s.
Each time he approaches a victim (we never see him) he drops his rosary at their feet before killing them.
There are some cheap but surprisingly effective jump scares (I’m embarrassed to admit they totally worked on me even though I could see them coming from a mile away), some excellent suspense moments, and a great body reveal sequence at the end.
There’s also a totally uncool dog kill (says the guy who was virtually cheering when the priest was shooting children).
This is actually a supernatural, satanic slasher as made evident by the spoiler movie art, yet we don’t get the visual payoff until the final frame! This was my favorite addition to my collection of this four, and I wish it would have gotten a Blu-ray release.