Ghost nuns, a weird Poe adaptation, a killer kid, druggy zombies, and solo work for a little 1980s critter in the 90s. Time to go back to the most disastrous decade of horror once again to see if there are any standouts in the latest bunch I take on.
The story of an archaeologist terrorized by visions of nuns crucified in medieval times in the ruins she’s exploring, Demonia has its moment but is a far cry from Lucio Fulci’s strongest film in the early 80s.
There are plenty of nonsensical scenes strung along and odd characters popping in and out to be murdered by the nun ghosts, but overall this is a slow mover. The kills are the highlights and include:
– a naked ghost killing a guy with a harpoon gun
– a gruesome next stab during sex
– not one, but two guys going all Lemmings and falling into a spike trap one right after the other
– an awesomely gory death by cat attack
– a nasty meat freezer murder
It all culminates in the main characters being chased around the catacombs by nuns with knives years before The Conjuring’s nun spin-off was even a thing.
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1991)
Stuart Gordon directs this Full Moon feature that is barely an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story.
It takes place in the 1400s during the Spanish Inquisition. Period piece. Blech.
The good news is it stars a bevy of horror names, including Oliver Reed, Jeffrey Combs, Stephen Lee, and Lance Henriksen. These were the days when Lance still took his roles seriously, so he’s oddly stiff in this otherwise cheesy torture film.
And that’s all it is—a torture film. Lance is the leading holy man accusing everyone of being witches. One pretty young woman begs him to show mercy to another woman…and so she’s accused of witchcraft, too. She’s perversely strip-searched then tossed in prison with an old lady who actually is a witch.
Meanwhile, Lance is absolutely lusting after the young woman, and has one of his men whip him as punishment for his perverted thoughts. He seems to like that, too.
The young woman’s boyfriend is trying to bust her out of prison.
The over-the-top pendulum scene, loaded with pendulum dodging during a sword fight, is the best part.
While Macaulay Culkin was busy making Home Alone movies, little Andy from Family Ties was a killer kid a year before The Good Son even existed.
In the first five minutes of Mikey he brutally kills his entire family!
The cute kid with the angelic face is now orphaned and everyone feels bad for him. He becomes his aunt’s problem…she just doesn’t know it.
In true campy fashion, he kills people off in inventive ways while dropping one-liners. At a time when the Internet didn’t exist, I don’t know how he learned how to do things like make Molotov cocktails and safely remove bullets from a gun.
But this isn’t just a killer kid. He’s also a psycho stalker. He becomes obsessed with his older female neighbor. Poor little orphan just needs someone to love him.
The best part of the film comes at the end, with the kid knocking them down like bowling pins, Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser fame making it to final girl status, and this tiny little kid managing to place all his victims around the dining room table for a classic corpse party.
The director of the 1989 zombie film The Dead Next Door makes a shot-on-video movie in the 90s that’s even higher on the schlock scale. Okay, it’s just plain terrible.
The best thing about it is the beefy, pretty detective…
…and this guy’s pits…
While working on a case in the seedy drug dealing area of the city after his partner disappears, he’s injected with a drug by a baddie and spends the rest of the movie having trippy hallucinations and being chased by mutant humans of all varieties.
There are plenty of zombie-esque baddies and icky special effects—some of them poor CGI–but the film feels like it has no cohesive plot. The Dead Next Door is better.
Directed by Jim Wynorski, who has been a prolific horror director since the 1980s, this goofy family comedy changes the concept of the original 1987 movie Munchies completely, and I’m only covering this and its sequel so that you know what to expect.
If you’re hoping for another onslaught of dastardly, comical little creatures, forget it. There’s one Munchie, voiced by Dom DeLuise. He has magic powers, and he comes into the life of a young boy being bullied at school and causes Gremlin-like chaos on his behalf.
The film has a notable cast, including a young Jennifer Love Hewitt as a classmate, Loni Anderson as the mom, Andrew Stevens as her dick boyfriend, Arte Johnson as a science teacher, and even Angus Scrimm of Phantasm fame as…what else? A funeral director.
The film is cute and funny for tweens, but the kids are kind of young for some of the oddly derogatory references to gays made throughout the film. Funny how straight society always thinks kids are too young to hear about homosexuality in movies and TV…unless it’s in a negative light.
MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK (1994)
Wynorski is back with another Munchie family movie. I can’t imagine why Shout Factory didn’t just throw this in with their release of the first two movies and make it a complete collection.
This time Munchie is voiced by Howard Hesseman of WKRP in Cincinnati fame (even though there probably aren’t many that even know the show at all these days).
Although we lost Dom DeLuise as the voice, a whole bunch of actors return from the previous film—most of them as different characters!
Only the little boy from the first film returns as the same character, in a very brief cameo at the beginning of the film.
This time, Munchie is warned by a celestial jury that he will be sent to a galaxy far, far away if he doesn’t behave himself. He’s sent to hang with a boy who is rather geeky but wants to play baseball. So munchie uses his powers to rig the baseball games in the boy’s favor. Ah, good family values cheating fun message. This should have been a Trump era film.
There are way too many baseball montages, but I do like that this film actually has several nods to horror. For instance, Munchie makes a lawnmower attack a neighbor, a band at the school dance sings an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” song (which sounds more early 80s than mid-90s), and there’s a talking raven squawking “Nevermore.”