Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Aenigma (1988, Lucio Fulci)

The really weirdly titled Aenigma was Lucio Fulci once again trying to craft something different than his other movies, although this one was a bit too campy for me at times. It was sort of channeling Carrie, although I was also reminded of Phenomena as well, and those are better movies than this one. Still if you want to see a Fulci movie about a coma patient who gets revenge for the prank pulled on her, this is the movie for you. Lara Lambert is great and sinister looking as Eva, the instrument of Milijana Zirojevic’s Kathy, and Ulli Reinthaler is good as Jenny, who I think you were supposed to root for even though she was involved in the prank. Jared Martin is the doctor who is treating Kathy, yet still fails to make any connection between her and the strange deaths. I can’t tell if that is the plot requiring him to be that oblivious, or if it’s just him being blinded by the two ladies who are in love with him. I’ll go with both here. Both is good.

The snails death is actually pretty nasty even for a Fulci movie, and is probably one of the most memorable from a master of memorable disgusting and gruesome moments. There is also several other decent kills, and the last act is suspenseful enough, particularly since Eva literally becomes an unstoppable killing machine. Does the movie offer tangible answers to what happened, why any of this was possible, and if it could happen again? Hah ha, no, of course not. That’s the Italian horror movie way, and I’m fine with it. Also the end credits shot is very The Shining, in a way, and that’s how I like it.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Manhattan Baby (1982, Lucio Fulci)

By the 1980s Lucio Fulci had decided to change up his style a bit, and the result is the pretty decent and somewhat entertaining Manhattan Baby, which is a strange title. Here Fulci channels The Exorcist, and reminds me of Poltergeist (even though that movie came out in the same year) for a movie about a girl who ends up cursed because her father uncovered an ancient Egyptian tomb. This leads to cruel deaths, weird happenings and a finale that is pretty wild. It’s a shame that this movie had its budget cut, as Fulci was trying to move away from his usual gory affairs, and you can tell that he was trying to make a creepy and effective movie. Still there are some good freaky death scenes in this movie, and it’s pretty obvious this is still a Fulci movie.

Christopher Connelly and Laura Lenz are really good as the parents of Susie (Brigitta Boccoli) who ends up becoming affected by the evil. What happens to Susie and her brother’s (Giovanni Frezza) babysitter is pretty crazy, and there is a bedroom scene that would easily be at home in any of the Poltergeist movies. I can’t say more about the deaths yet one that occurs in the finale is pretty wild and very memorable, and despite not being allowed to reach it’s full potential I still liked this movie. I saw it thanks to Shudder, which has a fairly solid collection of Fulci’s movies. The Italians sure knew how to make a crazy horror movie.

She’s got that…cobra in her? Huh Fulci was ahead of his time!

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Roadgames (1981, Richard Franklin)

This movie’s title is either Roadgames or Road Games, but that doesn’t matter because it is a highly effective, well crafted and even gorgeous horror thriller from Australia. Richard Franklin makes a really good movie that I should probably rate higher, and the cast helps him out: Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis, who play a trucker and the hitchhiker he picks up on the dusty backroads of the Australian Outback. Keach’s Pat is tired and in an hurry to make some money, yet along the way he ends up possibly driving behind a man who could be a serial killer. That or Pat is just sleep deprived and going crazy, which is something even he entertains at one point. Curtis’ Pamela believes him to a point, or perhaps she just is eager for a ride and some adventure. Roadgames is Hitchcock in the Australian wild, yet it’s done with style, beautiful cinematography, and some nicely executed set pieces.

My favorite thing about this movie is how the police keep thinking Pat is the killer, which is something that Hitchcock loved to do in his movies. Franklin also made Patrick, which is just as good as this movie, and he went on to a pretty solid Hollywood career. Yet this movie stands out I’m sure when people think of his filmography, and for good reason. Keep watching for the bleakly amusing ending, which has a final shot that I’m sure made people jump in the movie theater. Good times. Also any movie that has a dingo and doesn’t kill it off will get tons of points from me. Viewed thanks to Tubi, which is my favorite free streaming service. If you don’t mind the ads, that’s the one for you.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: A Blade in the Dark (1983, Lamberto Bava)

Lamberto Bava’s A Blade in the Dark is frustrating cause there is a good horror movie in here somewhere. It just never fully emerges, which is too bad since Bava has made some good movies and is the son of one of my all time favorite directors. I did like some of the movie and the ending is satisfying enough, however too many parts dragged. Also Brian De Palma was much better at channeling Alfred Hitchcock.

This movie has a meta style plot where the hero, Bruno, is scoring a horror movie and finds himself in a horror movie. The kills are good, yes, however this movie has thin characters and I stopped keeping track of who they were since I figured out they were just future victims. It’s a solid criticism of the Friday the 13th movies and other slasher films from the 1980s, and it definitely applies here. I didn’t hate this movie, yet I can’t really recommend it at all save for maybe hard-core 1980s slasher flicks. Watched thanks to Shudder.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents I Like Bats (1986, Grzegorz Warchoł)

I Like Bats is one of those artsy foreign horror movies that often tries to be more than just a horror movie. In this case it’s a vampire flick that’s also a love story and a case of vampire driven insanity, I guess. I’ve seen way better foreign artsy horror movies than this one, and I’m starting to think my rating for this movie was too high. There’s some good scenes, yes, and I liked the ending despite the final scene being a tad obvious, although it did amuse me a little.

Katarzyna Walter is a woman that works in her aunt’s shop and feeds on people. After meeting Marek Barbasiewicz’s psychiatrist by happy chance she falls in love with him. This leads to her attempting to be cured by him, which has some interesting results. There is one scene at a party that is one of the film’s highlights, and the movie does wisely zig and zag at times. I don’t know if I would have viewed this if it hadn’t been on Shudder, which has a pretty good collection of foreign cinema.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Poltergeist III (1988, Gary Sherman)

Even though I feel that Poltergeist III is similar in quality to the second one, I did agree with the movie trying to be more creepy and sinister in the same way the original movie operated. It doesn’t completely work, yet there are some good moments I enjoyed and the movie does have a pretty good cast. I’m not surprised that most of the original cast did not come back for the third one, and they explain this away by saying that the Freelings sent young Carol Anne to live with her relatives in Chicago. It’s very sad that Heather O’Rourke passed away shortly before the movie was released, and the movie was dedicated to her memory. This lead to people arguing the series was cursed, which I think is kind of silly. Bad things happen to people whether they make horror movies or not. Anyways Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen play her uncle and aunt, while Lara Flynn Boyle is their daughter in one of her earlier roles.

There is a neat pool scene that I liked, and the finale is pretty intense to me since I really dislike heights. Zelda Rubinstein pops up back again of course, and there is your typical doctor who thinks none of what is happening is real, and of course pays the price for his disbelief. That character could have been dumped and the movie would have operated just fine without him. The skyscraper setting is quite good, however unfortunately Sherman and company are unable to fully exploit that premise to create a better movie. Too bad since Sherman’s earlier movies are much better than this one. However as noted with the second movie, if you are willing to check out the series you could do worse or better with other franchises, and they’ll probably pop up back on Tubi again soon. I can admire a movie for trying I guess.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Lady In White (1988, Frank LaLoggia)

I think someone mentioned Lady In White in an article about 1980s horror movies that people could let their kids watch. It’s definitely not entirely family friendly fare, yet Frank LaLoggia’s late 1980s cult movie is pretty good and offers up enough creepy moments. It also has elements of drama and fantasy, as it centers around a young boy and his delightful family in the 1960s. I’m reminded of both Ray Bradbury and Stephen King here, which is a good thing.

The movie is rooted in the Lady in White urban legend, which has been around for a long time. Lukas Haas plays Frankie, who after surviving a traumatic experience decides to uncover who a child murder is in his hometown. The initial suspect is the school janitor (Henry Harris), yet Frankie’s dad (Angelo Rodolfo Scarlatti, who is great in the role) and some others aren’t convinced he’s the person the police have been searching for. I liked how the movie was unafraid to confront the racism of the era, and it’s quite sad how some things haven’t changed.

Len Cariou is also really good as Phil, a friend of the family, and I loved both Renata Vanni and Angelo Bertolini as Frankie’s other relatives. Plus Katherine Helmond and Jason Presson as Frankie’s brother also turn in fine performances. Although the movie does sort of drag in parts it’s definitely a well round flick that has a very suspenseful and tragic finale act. I’m glad that Shudder got this one, and I bet if I had seen it as a kid I would love it even more. Still it’s pretty good and folks should definitely check it out.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Sole Survivor (1984, Thom Eberhardt)

Despite being largely a slow burn, Sole Survivor is a well made slow burn with some fine creepy moments. Also it’s pretty obvious that Thom Eberhardt’s cult film inspired both The Final Destination movies and It Follows, which is neat. The flick also manages to be eerie and spooky as well, plus very moody. This would be a good fall movie, honestly.

Anita Skinner plays a woman who manages to survive a plane crash, yet she remains haunted afterwards. The doctor who treats her (Kurt Johnson, who is very likable) tells her it’s all in her head, then falls in love with her. Meanwhile literal zombies roam the city streets and proceed to stalk her in different ways. Is this death reaching out, or something more sinister at work? The movie doesn’t quite say, which is fine to me.

Gotta love those blue color schemes and those eerie late night streets.

Is there a grand conspiracy at work, or is it just people’s imagination? Caren Larkey is also great as a fading actress who claims to know the answers, and Skinner is perfect for the role. She makes us, the viewer, sympathetic to what she is going through. There is a shocking swimming pool scene, plus an unnerving moment on a staircase that really works. Is this a zombie movie or a supernatural movie? Perhaps it’s both, really? I’m not sure.

Between Sole Survivor and Night of the Comet, I really like what Eberhardt accomplished in the horror genre. I wish he had done more, yet he moved on to more general Hollywood fair. Which is fine yet also too bad since he appeared to have a knack for making reliable horror movies with sci-fi elements. Viewed thanks to Shudder, a service that happily offers up plenty of cult movies every now and then.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Fright Night Part 2 (1988, Tommy Lee Wallace)

Vampires go bowling in Fright Night Part 2. There’s one on roller skates even. Another one tries to steal the hero’s girlfriend right out from under him. The sequel wisely decides to be different and even though it’s not as good as the first one, it’s still a lot of fun and I liked it. The remake and the original compliment each other a lot, this one just feels like a snappy appetizer. Which is alright with me.

William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall pop back up again as the vampire killing duo, only Ragsdale’s Charlie is now convinced the events of the first movie were not real. His psychiatrist has him believing that Jerry was a serial killer, not a vampire, and that vampires don’t exist. McDowell’s Peter still believes, and is on the verge of losing his show over it. Traci Lind is Alex, Charlie’s new college girlfriend, who doesn’t believe in vampires either. Oh but she will sooner or later. Especially since Julie Carmen’s Regine has her sights aimed squarely at Charlie. She’s not exactly human, that’s for sure.

This movie has a lot more comedy elements than the first one, and way more vampires, as well. Regina’s crew consists of character actors Brian Thompson and Jon Gries, plus Russell Clark. Is it goofy at times? Sure, and it lacks the scare factor of the first movie. However Carmen steals the movie and delivers a captivating performance that people still talk about. It’s too bad I had to use YouTube just to watch this movie, it should be on Tubi or Shudder by now.

That’s a pretty cool opening title.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Grave Robbers (1989, Rubén Galindo Jr.)

In Grave Robbers, a long dead cursed executioner who wanted to birth the Antichrist is revived and goes on a pretty brutal killing spree. At times he seemed like your typical unstoppable undead slasher villain, and I’m sure he was inspired by the other horror movie villains from the 1980s. Grave Robbers is not as good as some of Rubén Galindo Jr.’s other movies, yet I thought it had some good moments.

This was a mostly satisfying horror movie, and I was greatly amused by how the evil executioner has magical powers just cause he’s the movie’s villain. The youths dumb enough to rouse him from his slumber are likable enough, and this movie has a pretty high body count. Viewed thanks to Shudder, and wonderfully goofy enough for me to recommend to people.

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