Basically my whole life is in shambles because two out of these three forgotten films of the 80s aren’t available on disc to add to my collection. Take note, kiddies. THAT is white privilege on full display.
THE CHILDREN (1980)
This is the one—the sole film in this triple feature that is available on disc. It has been on Troma DVD for years and now finally comes to Blu-ray thanks to Vinegar Syndrome.
Back in 1980 we were so busy obsessing over Prom Night, Friday the 13th, and the emerging slasher genre that a Village of the Damned/Night of the Living Dead mashup was easy to overlook. But in retrospect, despite some cheesy, dated aspects, this is one eerily little killer kids flick.
Classic setup…a pipe leaks at a nuclear power plant. A school bus full of kids drives through a strange cloud of smoke on a road. Pretty soon the kiddies are home from school, showing up with their arms extended, smiles on their faces, and saying “Mommy!” or “Daddy!” Fall for their trap and their mere touch turns you into a smoldering, crispy corpse! How awesome is that? Zombie kids that burn you to death.
The gore wastes no time in showing up in all its nasty glory, but it does tend to look at times like victims have plaster of paris strips glued to their faces.
Gotta love the fact that the first kill takes place in a cemetery even though these zombie kids don’t crawl from the ground.
The soundtrack is awesome because it sounds just like Friday the 13th. I looked it up and learned why: same composer, same year! And the main detective guy is John Travolta’s priest brother in Saturday Night Fever.
LONE WOLF (1988)
Lone Wolf is the 80s movie I need in my DVD collection…so let’s hope Vinegar Syndrome, Kino Lorber, Arrow, or another indie company works their magic. This flick is everything the 80s was. First of all, more than actors, it looks like they showed up at my class of 87 graduation and cast any boys who hated me because all my friends were girls, and all the girls who hated me because I wouldn’t give them the time of day. Yes, being gay does have its advantages.
This film essentially plays out as a cycle of kids getting gruesomely slaughtered in the snow, nestled between the other most important plot point…they’re all in a computer class together and DOS is everything.
Okay, there’s also a plot about one of the dudes being a moody, mysterious rock singer, so that makes for some rockin’ 80s band montages.
Plus the guy who plays the main detective’s sidekick clearly wanted to be a star, and probably should have because he’s quite a character.
My only real complaint about the film is that the very first kill shows way too much of the werewolf, yet after that we start seeing just flashes of werewolf claws and teeth during kills!
So, yeah, the werewolf is really a modern day (1988 modern day) Wolfman, but it’s still awesome, especially since it gives one character the chance to make a Michael J. Fox Teen Wolf reference!
Most amazingly, this forgotten indie has a pretty damn good imitation of The Howling/American Werewolf in London style of transformation.
Mindkiller is the only other film from the director of Night Vision—although he did write Lone Wolf and The Amityville Curse. That last one on his resume clearly was a curse, because it seems to have ended his horror career. Bummer.
Although it takes foreeeever to get to the totally 80s horror vibe, I do think Mindkiller is better than Night Vision. It shows immediate promise with thunder, lightning, a dingy lab, and flashes of a deformed dude who warns his mother not to come into his lab.
Which is why I can’t imagine how this film spends a majority of its run time going nowhere! It’s actually kind of goofy as it focuses on a librarian with a hot roommate who gets all the girls.
But that changes when the librarian finds a mysterious book filled with all the answers to his love disconnection. When he uses it as his self-help guide, he begins to acquire special powers that let him move things with his mind and control the behaviors of others.
That alone gives this movie so much opportunity. He could control women into twisted sexual situations and get horrific revenge on all the hot guys in the world. Instead, the worst we get is him bringing a paper cutter blade arm down on some guy’s fingers…and not even slicing all the way through. WTF?
There’s also a weird Zapped! moment in which he mind controls his boss into stripping down to his undies in the library. More of that, please.
FINALLY, his friends try to stop the madness using steps outlined in the book. It’s 20 minutes of HP Lovecraft-esque horror that fits right in with other movies of the era like From Beyond and Frankenhooker. There’s 80s neon light galore, chases through the library bookstacks, throbbing, oozing, deformed monster face, and an actual hellish creature.
If only the rest of the movie had lived up to the finale. But I can forgive, because after the horror is over, there’s a final scene in a club set to a totally 80s funky new wave track. Previously available as a bad DVD-R, this one could really use a better release.