It’s so satisfying that so many obscure films of the 80s are still being released on DVD and Blu-ray—with plenty more I’m still waiting for. So how important are these three to my extensive 80s horror collection? Well duh…super important because they’re from the 80s. But let’s look at them anyway.
PRIMAL RAGE (1988)
Primal Rage may just be the best 80s horror disaster you’ve never seen (if you don’t already worship it).
Right from the start we get a college campus montage complete with girls doing aerobics, and we’re treated to the theme song “Say The Word” by The Facade Band, a dance song so sugary sweet 80s that it even gets a major credit call-out in the intro credits.
Primal Rage has the vibe of some of the best of hokey Euro horror of the 80s, with so much more than a straightforward plot.
A scientist on campus is experimenting on a monkey (beware: the scene is disturbingly harsh for animal lovers). A school reporter investigates by breaking into the lab and gets bit by the monkey. The cheesy action music is astoundingly 80s Euro horror.
Before long, this turns into an infected film, with the guy going crazy on people and eventually looking like a zombie.
He infects a girl. She starts to go crazy.
He and his friends have a run-in with campus bullies that want to rape the girl. This is turning into a hot mess.
And then comes the Halloween dance. What the frick? This slice of infected heaven turns into a Halloween slasher flick, with a dance montage that amounts to a slasher-themed music video.
Someone in a skeleton costume is running around slicing and dicing people up right on the dance floor with some gory good fun. Plus, a girl gets chased through the halls by the killer…and the infected.
And just when you think the battle is won and it’s all over, there’s a scene involving the infected and a lawn sprinkler that catapults this film into 80s horror camp history. So why does no one talk about this classic?
BLOOD LAKE (1987)
Blood Lake is proof that even back in the 80s everyone with a video camera thought they could make a horror movie if they just gathered their friends at a house by the lake and found a big guy to carry a knife.
This goes beyond lost cult slasher. It’s an absolutely terrible film that fills most of its time with heavy metal montages of kids driving, talking, water skiing, talking more, water skiing again, back to talking, smoking pot, swimming. WTF? I’d rather go to a house by the lake with my own friends then sit through this pointless film.
There’s some repetitive 80s style horror music during the few kill scenes, most of which take place near the end, there’s a laugh out loud moment when one of the non-actors “falls” off the dock, and the killer POV is just the screen turning red—even though the killer isn’t some sort of cyborg or alien, just a dude in a hat.
The final scene tries its best to be backwoods horror, with the killer tying a few people up after chasing them through the house.
Everything after the ambulance comes for survivors brings the energy to a new low.
SCARED STIFF (1987)
The director of Doom Asylum and Phantom of the Mall was definitely a pro at making halfway decent 80s horror for the direct to video market. As in…about half of the movie is decent. In this case it’s the second half.
Andrew Stevens, his girlfriend, and her son move into an old plantation home. She’s a singer, so we get a couple of bad music video filming moments. Andrew finds an old diary from back in the slave days. And soon, his girl begins being haunted by visions of the slave owner of the house.
Her son’s toys move on their own. They house has a pigeon problem. Andrew finds a box in the attic with corpses in it.
A gardener dies on the property. A creepy mask gets a vector treatment in the kid’s computer and then projects into the middle of the room. Both Andrew Stevens and the slave owner appear shirtless.
It’s a mess and not very entertaining, until finally this demon dude appears and starts chasing the girlfriend and her son around the house.
A bunch of other ghouls pop out, and a dude unzips his head to expose his brains, making the last twenty minutes feel like a fun house of horror.
There’s even a Miami Vice sounding score during a car crash scene.
What I’m saying is, in the end, 80s horror rarely lets me down.