I’ve just added four more from the 1980s to my horror movie collection. Two are from one of the Blu-ray collections of films by Spanish horror actor/director Paul Naschy, and two are a Euro giallo/slasher series double feature that was just released.
HUMAN BEASTS (The Beasts’ Carnival) (1980)
Paul Naschy directs and stars in this film that I didn’t find very enthralling as a horror movie. By the end I took it as a comment on gluttony, greed, and privilege, but that didn’t improve my opinion any.
Paul’s character works for a crime boss. Paul is also romancing the boss’s daughter. So what does the idiot do? He double crosses the crime boss!
All of a sudden they’re chasing Paul through the woods with guns—the daughter included. Paul is wounded but gets away and is cared for by a doctor and his two adult daughters in a house in the woods where they also raise pigs. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there’s some psychotic sexual and horror shit going on in this place.
One daughter tries to force herself on Paul while he’s bed bound. The other daughter becomes romantically involved with Paul. In a fucked up sex scene, the doctor goes full master/servant with his Black maid as he whips her.
Meanwhile, Paul keeps having nightmares and catching glimpses of a woman portrayed in a painting in the house. There’s also someone occasionally killing off people who come to the house and feeding them to the pigs.
On top of all that, there’s some sort of costume party that includes some drag (I think), which leads to anti-gay slurs being tossed around the dinner table.
I really had no idea what was going on until it finally came down to the horror money shot in the last few minutes…which is a sort of zinger ending that would have packed more of a punch if this had been a tale in an anthology rather than a dragged out full-length film.
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981)
It’s so sexist that this movie isn’t titled Bathory vs. the Werewolf. This movie is all about Elizabeth Bathory, dammit! But Paul Naschy directs, and Paul Naschy plays the werewolf, so Paul Naschy named the movie after the Paul Naschy character (which Paul Naschy plays in numerous Paul Naschy werewolf movies).
Anyway, back in the day, Elizabeth Bathory and a whole bunch of her minions are tortured and killed for their heinous crimes, but Elizabeth swears she will be resurrected and get her revenge.
In modern times, three college girls obsessed with Bathory decide they are going to be the ones to resurrect her. Meanwhile, some dudes are taking care of resurrecting the werewolf.
They all end up at the same gothic mansion or castle or whatever it is, where Paul is the host by day and—you know—a werewolf by night.
The cool aspect here is that Bathory is an actual vampire, and the modern day girls become her bitches.
This shit turns into a campy Bathory vs. The Wolf Man battle! Eat your heart out, Hammer Films.
NOTHING UNDERNEATH (1985)
I guess you can turn to this film if you’ve a) seen everything by Argento, b) want to see everything Donald Pleasence was in that also features a killer with a sharp object, and/or c) like stylish, sexy 80s killer thrillers.
I’d say Pleasence was cast as a detective just to lure in Halloween fans. Even so, he seems too exhausted to even investigate fictional murders for an acting job in this film.
The main guy is a cute blond park ranger in the U.S. who gets premonitions of his model twin sister in Italy being stalked by someone with a scissor. So he flies to Italy and delves into the modeling world as he investigates her disappearance—mostly without any help from Pleasence. Although they do lunch together.
There are some boobs, female bush, a man ass, and our leading man shirtless.
There’s also one very Argento sequence that teases us repeatedly before the kill finally happens—entirely off screen. WTF? All we see is a bloody scissor after!
Thankfully there is one quick and juicy stab murder, another one much later in a flashback, and the killer going after the main guy with a drill in the final scene. Not Body Double length drill, but still impressive.
Unfortunately, other than the great 80s vibe and some good nostalgia including songs like “I Am What I Am” and “One Night in Bangkok” during a modeling show, this film is rather bland. However, I do think it’s worth it for the rather cheesy, over-the-top final move by the killer.
TOO BEAUTIFUL TO DIE (1988)
Apparently a sequel to Nothing Underneath, this film is directed by Dario Piana, a man who has only made a few films over the decades, including more recent films The Deaths of Ian Stone and The Lost Boys: The Thirst. 2011 brought The Last Fashion Show, a second sequel from Carlo Vanzina (director of Nothing Underneath), but I’ve been unable to track it down to watch. And let’s face it. It’s not from the 80s, so what’s the point?
Too Beautiful To Die has a very late 80s feel and is much more of a slasher that also takes on the dangers of young people being preyed upon and drawn into the seedy side of the modeling world by powerful men.
It’s not surprising that this is like one big sleek and sexy music video—in this case a music video that is being shot for the Frankie Goes to Hollywood track “Warriors of the Wasteland” (No, they don’t make an appearance like they did in Body Double). There’s a sensual dance club montage set to KTP’s “Certain Things Are Likely” that really made me miss the 80s so damn much. There’s a daytime boating montage as the Huey Lewis hit “Perfect World” brightens the mood. And Toto’s “I Won’t Hold You Back” is the soundtrack to a sex scene.
In the meantime, pretty young people that were in a disturbing hot tub scene at the beginning of the movie are getting killed off by a cloaked figure using a multi-blade weapon that serves as a prop in the music video. Awesome.
There is satisfying violence, atmosphere, and chase scenes enough for slasher fans to appreciate. However, the film isn’t quite focused, so the characters aren’t there to be developed or liked. They’re just present to be killed off.