From January 1st, 1980 – December 31st, 1989, I didn’t miss a moment of the 80s. I had cable. I worked at a video store. And yet, there are still horror flicks from the decade that I haven’t yet seen. Hopefully, the supply will remain unlimited…despite shit like these four films being the bulk of what I missed back then.
Before there was Scream 1996, there was…Scream 1981! It’s probably better to call it by its other title, The Outing, because you won’t scream once.
The intro is plenty intriguing and creepy. It’s just a shot of a wall clock and a bunch of figurines with their heads chopped off while perfect 80s horror theme music plays.
All that is shot to shit when the next scene shows people rafting to some sort of Hill Street Blues theme song knockoff crap. That’s one way to remind you this movie is from 1981. Anyway, this group of rafters hikes into an old ghost town for the night. Initially, there’s some great 80s slasher atmosphere as night falls—the shadows, the lighting, the POV, the sound effects. And while we don’t see the first kill, the shot set up and reveal of the body are uber cool and eerily effective.
Unfortunately, an eerie moment here and there is the extent of it. The kills are infrequent and happen off screen, mostly because this movie is the poster child for why everyone should make the stupid decision to split up in horror movies.
These people DON’T split up and nothing happens. They all stay in a building for a majority of the film, and whenever there’s a noise or odd occurrence to check out, they go together. How fucking boring!
The only one who seems to keep ending up on his own is the chubby guy they all pick on, and for some reason, he still survives! Plus, his scenes are accompanied by whimsical, cheesy 80s music that kills the mood.
Finally, some mysterious cowboy rides into town and the simply bizarre twist as to what’s really going on comes to light.
There are finally a couple of halfway decent kills—mostly because we at least get to see them on screen—before the film comes to a head-scratching conclusion with tons of survivors.
It’s fascinating that a movie can have atmosphere and a creepy theme going for it, but nothing else.
BORN OF FIRE (1987)
How do you torture a dark soul? Make it watch Born of Fire. Imagine all the slow pacing and symbolic visuals in the archaeological opening sequence of The Exorcist filling an entire film, and you have this snoozefest.
A flutist and astronomer team up because they’re both hearing strange music and a volcano has erupted in Turkey where the flutist’s father died and some sort of supernatural Master Flautist awaits. So they decide to head there to investigate…despite the MFer making his freaky presence known during a drive in the rain.
Within the depths of cavernous Turkish structures, the pair tries to uncover the truth of the father’s connection to the Master Flautist – a demonic figure (aka: man with bad skin) plotting to destroy the world.
In an effort to keep us entertained, there’s a little deformed man, irritating ancient rituals, endless water and fire imagery, a sex scene with bugs and skeletons, and a bug birth, pretty much the highlight for this horror fan—which is saying a lot, because I find bug births to be repulsive.
INCIDENT AT RAVEN’S GATE (1988)
Sleepy time continues despite a promising 80s vibe.
An ex-con comes to work on his brother’s farm in a rural area. He fucks around with the brother’s wife. He fucks around with the local cop’s lady. A football trophy is stolen from a local bar. A Close Encounters style light attack on a house promises something momentous down the line.
There’s a distinct edge to the atmosphere in this film that keeps you watching and waiting, sensing something horrific is going to happen as hints of odd occurrences slowly build around the main characters.
45 minutes in, we see a flash of a freaky creature attacking the cop’s car. But don’t expect much more than that.
It seems from that point on any threat to the two brothers comes in the form of some sort of alien beings mimicking or taking over the bodies of humans.
It feels and looks suspenseful and I guess there’s a hint of “body snatchers” going on here, but the initial slow burn that feels like it’s holding on to something terrifying just never delivers and it’s really hard to determine exactly what the hell is going on.
LAS VEGAS BLOOD BATH (1989)
The biggest thrill in this shot-on-video exploitation flick is the sexy 80s daddy in the black Speedo during a sex scene at the beginning.
Next, we learn that the daddy was banging some clean-cut dude’s wife. So the guy goes on a rampage, driving around and calling women sluts and whores.
First he ties a prostitute up in an alley, sticks a knife through her chin (looks pretty nasty), and then rips off her limbs by tying them to the bumper of his car.
After that, 80s chicks sit around a living room talking, trying on swimsuits, playing cards, watching female oil wrestling on TV, and ordering pizza for at least thirty minutes.
FINALLY the killer comes in with a gun and begins to take the girls upstairs one at a time, where he does a variety of disgusting things to them…like cutting open one chick’s belly, ripping out her unborn baby, and throwing it against a wall!
As bad as it all is, the killer has a couple of really funny and campy moments near the end. His reaction when a Jehovah’s Witness comes knocking on the door is hilarious.
But his shining moment comes when a hot cop in jeans and a tank top busts in while he’s…um…taking a bath. The whole movie should have gone for this level of dark, twisted humor.