I will devour 80s horror forever, but was this foursome filling enough? Let’s take a look.
BEYOND DREAMS DOOR (1989)
Clearly inspired by the huge popularity of the Elm Street series, this low budget direct-to-video movie is mostly a nonstop chain of bad dreams.
A college professor and her teacher’s assistant, who looks like he should be the teacher, try to help one of their students, a guy having recurring nightmares about being attacked by a hideous red monster.
That’s pretty much it—suburban nightmare horror taken to the extreme.
The main characters just weave in and out of trippy dream sequences drenched in 80s horror lighting for the entire film, often encountering the monster, and eventually ending up in…you’re never going to believe this…a boiler room.
BEYOND TERROR (1980)
The title Beyond Terror works in a weird way, because there’s absolutely no terror to be had here. This is like the worst of Euro horror of this era.
A small group of thieves on motorcycles robs a diner, shoots mostly everyone in it, and takes one couple hostage to make their escape.
They end up at a house with an old lady and a kid in it, rough up the old lady, kill her dog (not a pleasant scene), then burn the house down.
Next, they move to some sort of abandoned church.
The abducted woman has sex with one of the thieves
Another thief masturbates while mocking God. What a turn on.
Then they go to some little building.
Then they go back to the church.
Everyone keeps calling each other faggot.
This movie sucks.
Every once in a while they see the dog or kid that they killed back at the first house.
75 minutes into the movie, some skeletal corpses in a basement come to life for a few seconds. Also, one character’s head blows up when the old lady appears. That’s about all the horror you get in this shitty waste of time.
GRAVE SECRETS (1989)
For those of us who grew up on HBO in the 80s, actor Paul Le Mat is one of the staples of that horror era, appearing in Strange Invaders, Death Valley, Puppet Master, an episode of the HBO anthology series The Hitchhiker, and this one.
Grave Secrets begins with Amityville style theme music with children’s voices. Talk about high hopes.
Paul plays a college professor who covers supernatural phenomena. A woman comes to him for help because her B&B is haunted, so he goes to stay there.
For the first hour, the scariest things that happen are…an egg levitates and an axe goes kamikaze. Finally, a medium, played by David Warner, another 80s HBO horror king (Time After Time, The Company of Wolves, Waxwork, My Best Friend is a Vampire) shows up to hold a séance.
So does the college professor’s bubbly, totally 80s assistant, who should have been in the whole movie because she saves it temporarily.
The séance unleashes a ghost, momentary possession of the medium, and a silly apparition re-enactment of why the B&B is haunted, complete with a ghoulish corpse that should have joined the bubbly assistant in saving the film much earlier.
TRANSMUTATIONS (aka: Underworld) (1985)
This film was released to video under the title Transmutations during my days working at the video store in the 80s, but it’s also known as Underworld. Like Rawhead Rex, it’s another film by director George Pavlou with a screenplay by Clive Barker…that turned out to be a movie Barker hated.
Unlike Rawhead Rex, which is an 80s fave for me, I couldn’t even remember anything about this one, and now I see why. It really is horribly boring, a poor excuse for a horror movie, and is sort of like Barker dabbling in his own Nightbreed concept.
A crazy doctor has created a drug that turns humans into humanoids that now live underground. Turns out the key to reversing the damage lies with a hooker, so she’s kidnapped by the mutants.
Her ex-boyfriend is hired to rescue her and spends most of the movie trying to track her down while drenched in 80s horror lighting.
My favorite part is the sort of queer new wave dance number in a club.
The mutants are mostly as goofy as the ones in Nightbreed—but if you think that movie is a masterpiece like many do, you might just like this one.
The final sign for me that this is a pitiful excuse for a horror movie is the major gun battle at the end. Yawn.