Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Mortuary (1983, Howard Avedis)

Mortuary starts off in a decent 1980s slasher movie fashion, even having a goofy seance moment. This movie has Bill Paxton and wastes his talents, descending midway through into a silly, weak mess of a movie. The characters are not very bright, and the obvious is ignored in favor of continuing the movie. Mary Beth McDonough’s Christie keeps telling her mom that someone is after her, and she responds by dismissing her daughter’s concerns as hysterical.

Personally if someone kept telling me someone is stalking them, I would believe them. However that probably would have cut down the movie’s run time, I guess. Look I can abide dumb behavior in horror movies up to a point, yet this movie specializes in dumb behavior beyond annoyance. Sadly this was Christopher George’s final movie, which is a shame as he was a really good actor not afraid to take any role. He’s not even given a chance to ham it up here or have much of a presence beyond a lame father role.

There are much better 1980s slashers, ones that are more fun or actually frightening. Mortuary is a disappointment, and even the last act stinks. The worst thing about this movie is that isn’t not even bad enough to be more than forgettable. In a year all I will have to remind me I ever saw it is this review.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: White of the Eye (1988, Donald Cammell)

David Keith and Cathy Moriarty are great together as a married couple who’s wife half starts to wonder if her husband is a serial killer of women in White of the Eye, a 1980s horror thriller that works a lot like a Hitchcock movie. At least until the final act where it all falls apart, which is a shame cause the rest of the movie is pretty good.

There is a large house scene that is really well set up and very suspenseful, one that would be at home in a giallo. Plus Keith gives a compelling and engaging performance, one that is matched by Moriarty as his wife. The flashbacks are also well done in this film, and give hints to the overall mystery.

Alas the ending descends into a bunch of outlandish insanity that doesn’t work well for me. It also keeps on going long after a rather obvious conclusion, as if the movie doesn’t know it’s already over. Too bad, yet most of the film is a well developed movie with some cool shots, one that feeds off of the Tuscan desert setting so the whole thing isn’t a complete waste.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981, William Asher)

This movie starts out with a scene that would be right at home in a Final Destination movie, then moves on to a young man, Billy (Jimmy McNichol) and his way too loving Aunt Cheryl (Susan Tyrrel). She finds out that Billy is planning to leave for college, and oh boy does that drive her insane. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is one of those odd horror melodramas that only could have existed in the 1980s.

Add a scumbag cop played by Bo Svenson and Julia Duffy as Julia, Billy’s girlfriend and you’ve got a pretty solid cast. It’s Susan Tyrrel that steals the movie and runs away it as the crazed aunt, who does everything possible to keep Billy from leaving. Even murder!

The final act is beyond outlandish and yet it works in the context of the movie. Also this movie is very notable for being one of the few 1980s slashers to have a gay character in Coach Tom, played well by Steve Eastin. Who is presented as being supportive to Billy, which is nice. While there are better 1980s slashers I still rather liked this one and it will definitely stick out in my mind for a while. Also known as Night Warning, which is a better title that makes more sense.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Edge of the Axe (1988, José Ramón Larraz)

Edge of the Axe works best when it is brutal and unflinching, showing bloody and horrific murders onscreen. I did not care much for the final act, even though the closing shot is neat. However I rather liked this movie even if I feel certain aspects didn’t work for me. Also that opener is both shocking and well done, making one paranoid about being in a car wash. I guess even in one’s vehicle you are not safe. The killer’s mask is a fine inhuman, freaky touch indeed.

The Arrow Video transfer looks great of course, and I am reminded of why I upgraded to Blu-ray about four years ago. I like that the Spanish decided to create in the 1980s their own slasher movie, and they did the genre justice. My favorite part is when a woman makes the mistake of reaching for shotgun shells and pays dearly. Check this out even though it may be a tad dated. Also hey I can’t think of any other slasher films that depend on computers this much. That’s a fairly original touch.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: American Gothic (1988, John Hough)

American Gothic is a dumb, brutal, nasty movie that has a bunch of characters who exist to die horribly. Rod Steiger and Yvonne De Carlo did this movie for the money, and Michael J. Pollard is in this too because why not? Might as well have a trio of distinguished actors stuck in what was mostly likely a low budget production. However, the last act is more interesting than the entire rest of the movie, and Steiger does give a good performance.

Sarah Torgov was a solid final girl, too, and she manages to turn the tables on her captors. I didn’t hate this movie, however it is not a particularly good slasher film. American Gothic is mostly an ok film at best, and I think that seems to be true for way too many movies in general. I sure watch a lot of forgettable movies every year.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Sweet Sixteen (1983, Jim Sotos)

Midway through Sweet Sixteen I was wondering if I was viewing a slasher film or a teen drama. This movie is sexist, racist and very dumb, and maybe if it was well made and a good movie I could possibly overlook some of that. However those aspects just make the movie worse. I did like the brother and sister who were the sheriff’s kids, and they should have been the focus of the movie instead.

This movie abuses slow motion more than action movies and sports films. Also it had Patrick Macnee, because he needed a paycheck, and Dana Kimmell, who was much better in Friday the 13th Part 3. The film focusing so much on the main girl, played by Aleisa Shirley serves the narrative but was the nude scene with her necessary?

Oh and the song for her is cheesy and not in a good way. Perhaps I have seen too many slashers and thus am starting to loose my tolerance for the trashy ones. Skip this, watch something, anything better instead.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Slaughter High (1986, Peter Litten, Mark Ezra)

By the mid to late 1980s the slasher genre had started to run out of ideas. So most of them became about the, well, execution (no pun intended, honestly) of the films themselves. Some meta elements showed up later, however Slaughter High does not have any of that. Nope this is a good old fashioned “Wronged Person Gets Bloody Revenge” movie and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also thought having it be made in Britain with British actors was neat, just for a good change of pace.

Honestly you watch this sort of movie for the kills, and they are pretty brutal. There are even some good creepy scenes and I liked the abandoned high school building. Especially since it literally was an abandoned building that the filmmakers decided to shoot at. Caroline Munro shows up to give the movie a famous star, yet the rest of the no names aren’t too bad.

Even though Slaughter High doesn’t reinvent the slasher film I still liked it well enough. Not every 1980s horror movie or slasher flick was great, and the genre was a bit mindless. Yet Slaughter High wisely knows it’s limits, doesn’t hang around too long and quits while it is ahead. I can dig a movie like that.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Happy Birthday To Me (1981, J. Lee Thompson)

One thing I have learned from 1980s slashers is that the goofy ones are often the most fun. Happy Birthday To Me is kind of ridiculous, has plenty of reliable kills, and it nails the ending. Sure the acting is cheesy and I don’t know if parts of the movie made sense, but that is all part of the charm of such a movie. I didn’t view this on Halloween night because it would inform my brain or make for a life changing viewing. I watched it to unwind from a long day at work, crack a beer and settle in for half way decent entertainment.

Sadly the copy I found at Half Price Books did not contain any bonus features. I would have loved to see behind the scenes footage and even watch director’s commentary. Oh well. I still recommend this movie, although I have seen better on Halloween and this was a last minute viewing and purchase. I might plan better for 2020.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: The Mutilator (1985, Buddy Cooper)

I kind of like this title better. Also catchy theme song.

The Mutilator aka Fall Break begins as a goofy fun movie that quickly becomes a nasty and gory slasher film. Oh and the main character’s dad goes crazy and starts a murder spree. This is one of those horror movies where people end up being picked off one by one in violent fashion. The characters in this movie aren’t half bad, yet one watches these for the kills. The kills are pretty good in terms of brutal entertainment.

I wonder if maybe the Reagan years caused so many slasher movies to exist. Perhaps the era was just right for those kinds of movies. Maybe people wanted really violent entertainment. I guess you can say that for most decades, really. At this stage I have seen way too many of them, and I have enjoyed way too many of them so I wonder if there is something wrong with me. Probably. Also this is a good fall movie and Fall Break is really a much better title.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Final Exam (1981, Jimmy Huston)

Final Exam is at times goofy, silly, and very gory. The characters are thinly developed even for a slasher movie and the killer doesn’t have a motive. Yet I still thought Final Exam was ok-not bad, not exactly good, just ok. The football coach by the way is the best character in this movie and since it was made at the start of the slasher craze you really cannot fault the characters for their decisions. Well, at least some of them.

Plus the last act is intense and the final girl is likable. I also was ok with the killer simply being some insane person on the loose. This film had to been one of the inspirations for Urban Legend. Unfortunately for Final Exam it suffered from being compared to previous slasher films. I viewed this on Tubi TV and I didn’t hate it so give it a chance.

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