REVIEW: The Funhouse [1981]

God is watching you. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that the pitch Universal Pictures used to court director Tobe Hooper for Lawrence J. Block‘s The Funhouse script was something akin to “think The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but at a carnival.” That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Four kids looking for a good time stumble across a deranged family that has no qualms with killing them if they get in the way of living life way outside of the law. Rather than just be rednecks in the woods,…

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REVIEW: Child’s Play [1988]

I’ll be your friend to the end. The rough cut of Tom Holland‘s Child’s Play was around two hours and test audiences weren’t happy. Almost forty minutes were excised (and boy can you tell) before the film saw the light of day and eventually earned an insanely devoted cult following that’s seen six sequels (so far) with original screenwriter Don Mancini taking up the reigns for the last three. As such, it’s wild to think how different his initial draft was. Mancini first imagined a conceit that involved the transference…

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REVIEW: Blood Rage [1987]

Here’s to the new family. Shot in 1983 but released in 1987 under a different name (Nightmare at Shadow Woods) and without most of its gore, the uncensored version of Blood Rage doesn’t even have its title intact. The word Slasher takes its place during a drive-in theater prologue instead—an apt name in its own right considering the murder weapon of choice is a machete wielded with a swing of the arm to inflict gashes into the faces of its victims. It ultimately doesn’t matter what you want to call…

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REVIEW: Chopping Mall [1986]

Absolutely nothing can go wrong. Only a 1980s horror could have a killer robot plot and intentionally gloss over artificial intelligence themes for lightning. Who wants a ton of exposition talking about hubristic irony when you can let Mother Nature provide a malfunction? Rather than show humanity as its own worst enemy flying too close to the sun, supernaturally sci-fi-inspired sentries wreak havoc with little more than a bolt of electricity flipping the switch that transforms these programmed protectors into autonomous predators. Now all you need is a few sex-crazed…

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REVIEW: An American Werewolf in London [1981]

Beware the moon, lads. It’s not hard to believe John Landis wrote his first draft of An American Werewolf in London at eighteen. The male gaze throughout is right in line with the comedies he would bring to life (The Kentucky Fried Movie and National Lampoon’s Animal House) to achieve the success necessary to secure a ten million dollar budget more than a decade later. By focusing on two co-eds crossing the Atlantic to backpack through the moors around his age while writing, he’d of course end up injecting a…

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REVIEW: Le notti del terrore [Burial Ground] [1981]

It’s a walking corpse! The earth trembles and graves open just like Ragno Nero (Black Spider) foretold when talking about a non-descript “they” joining the living as messengers of death. A professor (Raimondo Barbieri) catalyzes this event when an underground discovery releases a horde of zombies onto him and the three couples he had already invited to share his findings. They don’t know where he’s gone upon arriving so they capitalize on his absence with a night of sex to supply director Andrea Bianchi‘s audience with some nudity and half-hearted…

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REVIEW: The Howling [1981]

Well he didn’t get up and walk out on his own. With the amount of 1980s horror films that go all-in on the blood and gore from frame one, the few that don’t can’t help but standout. What’s funny is that the latter were the types I disliked as a kid. I remember watching Joe Dante‘s The Howling decades ago on television and thinking it was too boring to ever want to watch again. We don’t even get to see a werewolf—the supernatural entity we’re promised—until two-thirds of the runtime…

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REVIEW: My Bloody Valentine [1981]

It can’t be happening again. Only Canada would let a holiday slasher film like My Bloody Valentine—known for having its most disturbing bits of gore chopped away for the ratings board—end with a folk ballad that gives its murderous psychopath Harry Warden an almost nostalgic lilt. With John McDermott‘s voice lending it credence, we’re pretty much given a full recap of the legend that George Mihalka reignites twenty years after those first deaths ravaged Valentine Bluffs’ sleepy little mining town. It was the community’s namesake party on February 14th, 1960…

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REVIEW: Christine [1983]

You have nothing to lose but your virginity. It shouldn’t be surprising to see parallels between John Carpenter‘s Christine and today considering we live in an era where phrases like “boys will be boys” are used to full stop sanitize the increasingly deplorable actions of young white American men. Back in the 1970s when this film (and Stephen King‘s novel on which it is adapted) is set, we would laugh at the so-called “locker room” talk of teenage boys sexualizing their female classmates and knowingly chiding the nerdy kids chiming…

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REVIEW: Carrie [1976]

Sin never dies. As a Maine resident trying his hand at literary horror, it shouldn’t be surprising that Stephen King would gravitate towards a New England topic such as witchcraft so early in his career. Carrie was his fourth novel (first to be published) and showed the potential for the skewed gaze on common tropes he possessed. The titular character isn’t a witch per se, but a young girl with newfound telekinetic powers and an abused background with which to foster a seething rage beneath her shyly sweet demeanor. Rather…

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REVIEW: Incubo sulla città contaminata [Nightmare City] [1980]

That sounds like science fiction. There’s a scene between Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) and his wife Anna (Laura Trotter) about two-thirds of the way through Umberto Lenzi‘s Incubo sulla città contaminate [Nightmare City] where they speak about the perils of technology. After an hour of murder, death, and exposed breasts, suddenly the screenwriters decide to provide some semblance of meaning to the whole. Anna laments that the world would be a better place without creature comforts like instant coffee and more expansive means of infrastructure such as nuclear power. She…

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