The 80s obscurities keep on coming

The 80s never really end for me, so here’s yet another blog covering four more lost horror movies of the decade.

FIEND (1980)

Fiend comes from the director of Nightbeast, and to me it’s like unofficial Night of the Living Dead spin-off Flesh Eater meets Fright Night meets…Xanadu?

This is as low budget as they come and looks like it was filmed in a few houses and surrounding woods of a middle class cul-de-sac in 1980.

The opening scene is definitely inspired by NOTLD, with a couple getting attacked by a corpse in a cemetery. Difference is this corpse comes to life when an evil orange aura sweeps into the ground and possesses it. Have to believe we are magic.

What is a corpse to do? It moves into a vacant house and starts to live life. It regularly chokes women to death in the woods with its orange glowing hands to steal their life forces, which help make it look less dead.

Meanwhile, a next door neighbor becomes convinced the corpse guy is a murderer as the bodies begin piling up in the woods behind their houses. It’s only a matter of time before the two battle to the death…and re-death.

The low budget gives Fiend that gritty, direct-to-video feel we 80s horror kids love, which is good, because nostalgia is most of what it has going for it since the cheesy corpse makeup loses its impact rather fast and the kills are repetitive.

DEADLY LESSONS (1983)

There were some great made-for-TV horror films in the 1970s and 1980s, but Deadly Lessons is not one of them.

A bland thriller that pretends to be a slasher, it features 80s darling Diane Franklin coming to an all-girl private school, befriending the likes of Ally Sheedy and Nancy Cartwright of Bart Simpson fame, getting flirty with Bill Paxton…and finding dead bodies around every corner.

Sure, there are girls being stalked and killed on campus, but we never see any of that, and there’s no masked killer. The bodies just turn up. Yawn. Adding to the melodrama (including the bad made-for-TV score), Donna Reed is the headmaster having an affair with a staff member, while the CHiPs guy who isn’t Erik Estrada is the detective on the case.

At least the film delivers a few twists near the end.

Ally Sheedy suddenly seems to be the star instead of Franklin, but it’s Franklin who gets the chase scene at the end, delivering the best few moments of the movie.

RAZORBACK (1984)

Razorback is one of those creature feature goodies from back in the days when HBO played everything. And now that I finally scored a copy on Blu and can blog about it, I’m surprised to discover the director went on to direct episodes of Queer as Folk and Teen Wolf, plus an installment of Resident Evil.

This is one odd little film. Set in the Australian outback, it’s about a “town”(?) being terrorized by a giant monster boar! Awesome.

What makes the film so frightening is that right from the very first scene, this monster just plows through houses (shacks?) and tears people right out of their homes. There’s literally no place to hide. My worst nightmare (along with sinkholes, shark attacks, falling from a high place, admitting it’s not the 80s anymore, etc.).

After a few gory kills, always drenched in blue light at night, Gregory Harrison comes to town looking for his reporter wife, who went missing…while listening to “New Moon on Monday” by Duran Duran. Awesome.

Gregory has crazy encounters with pigs, some locals that think they’re in a Mad Max movie, and eventually a female researcher. He also has a dehydration hallucination session that’s freakier than the giant boar.

The denouement features a battle between Harrison and the boar in a factory, and Harrison is an absolutely beautiful bumbling hero.

Also keep an eye out for a major plumber crack moment…sadly, it’s not Harrison’s.

NIGHT TERROR (1989)

If ever a direct-to-video horror movie encapsulated the look and feel of the late 80s, Night Terror is it. It’s like watching three even lower budget episodes of Tales from the Darkside with a wraparound about a patient suffering from night terrors in a mental institution.

1st story – While pulling a Cyrano de Bergerac for his awkward buddy at work, a dude with an amazing 80s pornstache decides to steal the girl for himself.

After handing out some trick or treat candy (yes, it’s a Halloween tale and scores a spot on the holiday horror page), he goes to meet her for a date…at a weird, sexually charged party.

There’s fabulous 80s music and fashions, plus horny guests of all orientations, including a gay guy who comes on strong (landing this one on the does the gay guy die? page as well). But the faggot (that’s what pornstache guy calls him) is the least of pornstache guy’s worries once the horror starts…

2nd story – a powerful man preparing to tear down a beloved roller coaster to put up a mall is terrorized by a carnival barker.

3rd story – this is the same formula as the killer Native American statue story from Creepshow 2. After a trio of thugs causes chaos at a toy store, a Teddy bear comes to life to get revenge. This is the goriest installment in the film, and it’s just plain stupid midnight movie fun, and the perfect way to end this indie anthology strong.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
This entry was posted in Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Living in the 80s - forever, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Sound Check - The Songs Stuck in My Head, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply