Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blood Beach (1981, Jeffrey Bloom)

John Saxon better have gotten paid well for being in this 1980s turkey, cause Blood Beach sucks. Oh does it suck in so many different and lame ways, taking a decent premise and making a terrible movie out of it. Jeffrey Bloom sounds like a made up director name in a MAD Magazine spoof making fun of low budget horror cinema anyways.

The monster never really gets shown and when we finally catch a glimpse it looks pretty dull, really. It took me two days to watch this movie, not because it’s long but due to me not caring about anything that happened onscreen. Burt Young also is in this movie if only cause he was in between Rocky movie gigs. Look view this movie if you must, but if you do so try to view it for free like I did. If I had paid for this at a theater I would have left very angry.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blades (1989, Thomas R. Rondinella)

Created as fairly obvious Jaws parody, Blades actually manages to be a goofy, fun, killer lawnmower horror comedy. It’s not really scary, there are some decent moments of gore, and oddly it’s a solid golf movie too. The leads are likable, the golf course owner a scumbag desperately ignoring deaths to make money, and the groundskeepers and caddys definitely underpaid. There’s even an old weird former groundskeeper/mechanic for the Quint role.

Does a person get run over and you witness their legs being chopped up? Absolutely. Is the audience shown a kid dying horribly just like in Jaws? Yep! Can one accuse this movie of being in bad taste while still admiring it’s willingness to show golf scenes? Sure! This is the type of oddball movie that only could have been made in the 1980s. Viewed thanks to Peacock but Blades is also on Tubi.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blood Hook (1986, Jim Mallon)

Blood Hook tries to be a funny 1980s slasher movie, but it just reminds me of a bad joke I’ve heard told by different people over the years. It wasn’t funny the first time, and it won’t be funny years from now. I’ll give the movie some points for a few good kills, an amusing enough fisherman fight and for trying something new. That’s about it, though, cause the rest of this movie stinks.

It stinks worse than fish guts, really, and this is the first Troma movie that I didn’t like or care for at all. Too bad, and I think they should remake this one. Up the gore, lean into how people take fishing way too seriously, find some better actors and maybe offer a sly commentary on resort towns. It could work, maybe. Then again, maybe not.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents The Oracle (1985, Roberta Findlay)

The Oracle is a huge mess and for some reason looks and feels like a 1970s movie people decided to finally release a decade later. It would be not good in either decade, and I was very much let down by the whole thing. The movie tries to be both supernatural and a slasher movie and really fails at both, and it drags so much that by the end I was just glad to see the credits roll.

There was a cool decapitation kill that comes too late to salvage the movie, and the ending is as predictable as one can imagine. I didn’t like any of the characters and there is very little suspense or much of anything worth noting in this movie. I didn’t hate it, yet I can’t recommend seeing this one. That’s 1980s cult cinema for you: sometimes you find a gem, sometimes you are reminded why a lot of these movies weren’t big hits or remembered.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blood Suckers from Outer Space (1984, Glen Coburn)

Blood Suckers from Outer Space came out the same year as Night of the Comet and a year before Return of the Living Dead. It makes both of those fun, great movies appear in the same breath as Citizen Kane by comparison. Yet I did like certain aspects of this movie, and I’ll admit it was made on a budget that can’t even be described as low budget. More zero budget, really, as if the budget was appropriated and gathered from funds raised via yard sales. I believe the creatures in this movie are similar to the ones in Lifeforce where they’re zombie vampires that inspire other zombie vampires. That or the film’s quality doesn’t really give me too many insights into what is happening. The French New Wave folks would be quite pleased with this movie’s lack of emphasis on plot, yet this movie still attempts to have one.

I’ll give this movie a sort of A for effort, as parts were really funny and the romance at the center of the movie isn’t actually half bad or half baked. I’m assuming that Glen Coburn was attempting a zombie comedy parody of other zombie horror movies, and he was ahead of the curve in that regard since after this Re-Animator, Night of the Creeps, and Return of the Living Dead came out. Plus the horror comedy Evil Dead II. What he lacked in um, talent or money he attempted to make up with gore, wonderfully silly film moments, and a conclusion that is equal parts gutsy and amusing. I wonder if this movie inspired it’s later, much better companions although I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t just that the other directors had their own ideas first and only got around to making them into reality later.

Should one view Blood Suckers from Outer Space? I watched it thanks to Tubi and I’ll probably forget I saw the movie by next year, although that’s more likely due to viewing way too many movies every year these days. I say check it out, leave your expectations behind and abandon your brain as well, and things will end up just fine.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: The Stepfather II (1989, Jeff Burr),

The first Stepfather movie is an effective cult classic that works very well and literally created Lifetime movies before they existed (shoutout to Joe Bob Briggs for pointing that out). We ended up with a sequel that shouldn’t have happened cause if you saw the first movie he well, should have been dead. I know we are used to slasher villains being indestructible but come on, man! This is ridiculous.

Terry O’Quinn isn’t given the same great one liners as he was in the first movie, and he seems to be second banana at times in his own movie. The people in this one pale in comparison to the mom and daughter in the first movie, and it’s too bad since Meg Foster is a good actress. I was left bored for most of this movie which is a bad thing and nothing really cool happens until much later.

It’s almost as if they forgot everything that made the first movie good. Too bad, and I won’t bother with the third movie. I doubt it’s nothing more but diminishing returns. The ending was oddly satisfying, at least, mostly because it meant the movie was over. Thank God I watched this for free on Crackle. I did like Caroline Williams in this one, she should have been the main lady instead.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989, Richard Friedman)

When Shudder revealed they were adding Phantom of the Mall to their July lineup, I had to check it out. It’s a late 1980s slasher movie take on the classic old school tale, and this one has a bizarre charm to it that works in it’s favor and makes it better than most 1980s slasher movies. What helps is that Derek Rydall is perfect in the title role, although I’m not sure why they needed to include Eric’s Revenge in the title. I think we can figure that out after he starts killing people.

Kari Whitman also stars as Melody, Eric’s former love, who Eric continues to pine for in-between kung fu workouts and horribly killing people at the mall he’s hiding out in. Pauly Shore appears in this movie too and he’s actually the amusing comic relief and the helpful friend all at the same time. Rob Estes and Morgan Fairchild round out the other major players, so this movie actually has a fairly reliable cast which helps.

Is most of this movie’s appeal Eric getting his revenge? Sure thing. Does all of the material work? No, yet it oddly works all the same anyways. The finale is also exciting too, and Jonathan Goldsmith adds plenty of sleeze too as the mall owner with his own dastardly secrets. Ken Foree even pops up in this movie briefly as a security guard, which is nice. I’ll gladly champion Richard Friedman’s effort as one of the better 1980s slasher movies, and as one that helped close out the decade as that sub-genre was in decline.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Invaders From Mars (1986, Tobe Hooper)

I think I’ve seen some of the original cult flick Invaders From Mars which came out in the 1950s. What I saw of that was good, yet dated. You can make the same argument about Hooper’s remake, still I rather liked this one well enough. The ending is gusty, the cast is good, there’s some awesome freaky moments and the movie is very 1980s. Which is fine as Hooper did some pretty good work during that decade and became further established in his own right.

However compared to other 1980s remakes this one isn’t as good as the other ones, although I definitely prefer it over Not Of This Earth, which was not a good movie. Louise Fletcher is wonderfully sinister in this movie, the parents are played by famous actors Timothy Bottoms and Laraine Newman, and Karen Black has a prominent hero role as the school nurse who believes the kid protagonist. Hunter Carson is quite good as young David, the hero, and James Karen plus Christopher Allport pop up as high ranking soldiers who come to David’s aid.

There are several pretty cool sequences too, particularly the one in the saucer alien lair yet also one involving a swirling sand vortex of doom. Stan Winston and John Dykstra do a fine job with the special effects, and even though the movie drags a bit in the middle the finale more than covers for the weaker aspects. I’ll have to view the original in it’s entirety to compare the two, however for now I’m very satisfied with the remake.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Without Warning (1980, Greydon Clark)

Alright hear me out: an alien comes to earth to hunt people and faces off against a group of people in the woods. Sound familiar? Well this isn’t Predator, it’s Without Warning, a cheesy early 1980s movie that definitely inspired Predator. Even though it is not as good as Predator (not really in the same ballpark, actually) I still enjoyed this cheesy and quite violent sci-fi horror movie. The cast is largely made up of young people you’ve never heard of, save for a pre stardom David Caruso, yet the flick does have some heavy hitters to assist with the kind of flimsy plot.

You have Jack Palance as a gas station owner who in typical horror movie cliche fashion warns the young people to go home. They ignore him of course. Martin Landau plays a crazy veteran who ends up being just as dangerous as the alien-I feel his character wasn’t necessary and could have been cut from the movie. Ralph Meeker, Cameron Mitchell and Neville Brand appear as movie veterans who aren’t a big part of the movie yet offer it some character actor gravitas.

Funny enough Kevin Peter Hall also played the alien in Predator and he does so here as well, and I liked that the movie only bothers to show the alien later for mass effect. Despite lagging a bit in the middle, this is still a solid and entertaining killer alien movie. The alien sucker things the alien throws at it’s victims are creepy to me, and the movie wisely does its job and concludes. This was part one of a triple alien feature I decided to do via Shudder a month ago.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Return of the Living Dead (1985, Dan O’Bannon)

In 2017 Best Buy still had a decently sized movie section that has since been gutted since everyone streams movies and physical media has taken considerable hits. I went there to find something for Halloween since I knew I didn’t have to work the day after and I would be able to stay up late viewing horror movies after work. They had a cool looking copy of Return of the Living Dead, which I hadn’t seen in years at the time and was due for a rewatch. I still own my copy and I love that movie because it is a punk zombie horror comedy that has plenty of bite and even some scary moments. I’m not sure if it is a great movie, however I’ve known plenty who could argue that it is and even convince myself. Return of the Living Dead is one of those films that could only have been conceived of and made in the 1980s-yes I’m going to be that guy-primarily since a lot of the styles and trends the movie features are very much out of date and now laughably retro. Also punk has been co-opted by Hot Topic and has unfortunately gone mainstream. Too bad.

One thing I enjoy about Dan O’Bannon’s cult classic is that the movie has some great comedy moments and also some really surprisingly creepy moments as well. Plus the flick works as an agreed to by O’Bannon and George A. Romero unofficial sequel to Night of the Living Dead (1968) where in this universe that movie actually really happened and the government covered it up. I also dig how the movie shows actual dates onscreen, acting as an unofficial covering of what happens one July 4th (yey holiday movie horror!) weekend. Freddy and Frank are two bumbling medical supply warehouse employees who accidentally unleash a zombie plague upon their home city of Louisville, making their city famous for more than just basketball. A group of young punks, friends of Freddy, end up breaking into a cemetery in what turns out to be the worst mistake of their young lives.

The cast for this film is excellent: I mean you have James Karen and Clu Gulager as the major heavyweight veterans, with Thom Mathews and Linnea Quigley headlining the younger cast. Quigley ends up stealing the movie with a freaky performance both as a living person and as the undead! I still chuckle at the “Send more cops” line, and admire this movie for having brain eating zombies, fast moving zombies, and trap setting zombies. Although technically the cult flick Nightmare City had zombies that moved quickly and were capable of using objects as weapons before Return of the Living Dead, and I’m sure it helped inspire O’Bannon’s film as well.

Despite not finding this movie very scary I still love it anyways, and I’m holding on to my Blu-ray copy as long as it still works. Return of the Living Dead is one of those movies that every horror fan should see, and despite being dated 1980s wise a lot of the material holds up incredibly well. Besides who doesn’t wanna party? IT’S PARTY TIME!

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