Horror was so prevalent and popular in the early ‘80s that even the action genre wanted in on the…uh, action. Chuck Norris haiyah’ed a Michael Myers wannabe in Silent Rage (1982), so next up it was granite faced Charles Bronson’s turn to take on slashers with 10 to Midnight (1983), a sleazy yet fascinating trip through the mind of a serial killer. While it’s never as deep as it thinks it is, it’s smarter than it has any right to be.
The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) was an unpopular thriller with a clever premise. Laura would have visions whenever a killer attacked someone, and she witnessed the murders through his eyes. Naturally, TV had to take a crack at the premise, which brought us Mind Over Murder (1979), a thriller that adds a few wrinkles to the basic premise and ends up being the more enjoyable of the two.
I love wordplay, and portmanteaus are my favourite. Come on over and I’ll tell you about The Manster (1959), part man, part monster, all good B movie madness. Two-headed Americans abroad in Japan is a very specific sub-genre, and underappreciated at that.
Ambition should never be a dirty word, especially when it comes to micro-budget movies. Especially micro-budget movies shot on a camcorder starring a Yugoslavian actor who goes by the amazing moniker "Lazar Rockwood." Which brings us to the kind of amazing Canadian-made Cube/Saw prototype Beyond the Seventh Door (1987), lovingly presented on DVD by Intervision, who never fail to cover all of your shot-on-video needs.
I’ve always had a great appreciation and fondness for horror anthologies, and I devoured horror comics as a kid; whether it was House of Mystery or Creepy magazine, they never failed to fire my imagination in short, sharp bursts. When the Romero/King collaboration Creepshow (1982) came out, my dream of seeing these kinds of stories translated to film was nothing but revelatory. I soon discovered it was not the first of its ilk, and began a journey through dusty video store shelves looking for its long-lost relatives. One of my first (and favorite) finds was Vault of Horror (1973), a five-fingered punch to my nascent, pubescent, omnibus-loving heart.
The poster tagline states, “Heaven help us all when THE DEVIL’S RAIN!”, and if that grammatical train wreck doesn’t break your brain, I promise you the following 86 minutes will. The Devil’s Rain (1975) is a glorious curiosity, a personal favorite, and thanks to Severin Films’ spectacular new Blu-ray release, one of the best reissues I’ve ever seen.
There’s an in between zone that parents often look for if they’re easing their kids into horror. If they’re fans of the genre themselves, the urge to take the tykes from Scooby-Doo to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is very tempting. I was one of the fortunate ones who was allowed to cut out the middleman and dive right into the heady stuff. So it was then that I missed out on a great bridge between the two extremes, The Midnight Hour (1985), ABC’s successful bid to get the Thriller-crazy crowd on their side.
Until you start watching killer rat movies, you don’t realize how few killer rat movies there are. It’s not a sub-genre that sparked off franchises (does Willard and its sequel Ben count? Let me know) or inspired Funko toys, but rather has films strewn here and there throughout horror history. Today we’re scurrying back to my particular turf for Deadly Eyes (1982), Golden Harvest’s Canadian-lensed attempt to move over from Kung Fu to Rodent Fu. (Sorry Joe Bob Briggs, I couldn’t resist.)
[To get you into the spooky spirit, the Daily Dead team is spotlighting double features that we think would be fun to watch this Halloween season. Keep an eye on Daily Dead for more double feature recommendations, and check here for our previous Halloween 2017 coverage.]
It’s always been my dream to own a movie theater and program just my favorite genre fare. Of course, showing nothing but the oeuvre of William Girdler would leave me destitute within a month (okay, a week), so naturally I’d have to expand my programming. I’ve always found that double features are a great tool (and if anyone knows what it’s like to be a great tool, it’s me) for finding the connective tissue between films that may appear to be dissimilar upon a quick pass, or to highlight and illuminate similarities that create an entirely new experience.
Larry Cohen: Party of One. That’s the way I see him, anyway; he’s always made the films he’s wanted, the way he’s wanted – with varying results, sure, but at the end of the day they are nothing less than Larry Cohen Films: unique, challenging, quirky, funny, and almost always a blast to watch. Which brings us to Q: The Winged Serpent (1982), his tribute to the AIP monster movies of days gone by, overshadowed by his patented blend of offbeat characters and intriguing dialogue. The flying lizard? Merely a delightful distraction.
Lucio Fulci, the master of the soft-core thriller, is back with… wait, what? Let’s start over, shall we? Lucio Fulci, the Italian maestro of the viscerally dangerous and compellingly disgusting, dips his toe into—for me, that is—uncharted waters with The Devil’s Honey (1986), a melodramatically erotic piece resurrected by Severin Films for a packed Blu-ray release. This is not your dad’s Fulci. (Unless he had a special drawer…)
Richard Stanley has always marched to the beat of a unique drum. He hasn’t made very many narrative films (Hardware, Dust Devil) since arriving at the turn of the ’90s, but he has always fascinated due to his quirky spirit and dedication to the odd and unusual. And so it goes that his documentary The Otherworld (2013) follows a path true to his nature, but is shot with a touching sense of humanity in its look at strange phenomena and the people who embrace it.
No! Don’t run away! Where’s your Halloween spirit? Yes, Halloweentown (1998) is a Disney Channel movie, but that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing; if you’re looking to introduce your kids to horror, it’s better to pitch them some underhands than speedy overhands. (I don’t really know baseball.) In a cynical and bitterly crumbling world, it’s nice to know that a bit of low-key innocent charm still exists.
The Creative Death sub-sub-genre took flight in the ‘70s with The Omen (1976), as that little imp Damien (and his dad) dispatched the cast in different macabre and entertaining ways. (Variety is the spice, and all that.) The ’78 sequel continued the burgeoning tradition, leading us up to The Legacy (1978) - a film that takes its own stab at variety by marrying The Old Dark House to The Dark Underlord and delivering a fun, wicked (albeit goofy) little offspring.
“Charming” is not often a word associated with horror films; it’s counterintuitive to what the genre usually stands for—you know, terror and tension, followed by release and a sense of ease, then repeat—but yet here we are with a romantic tale about a boy, a girl, a teleportation device, and the insect that comes between them. Welcome to the world of The Fly (1958), where the hosts are welcoming, the police polite, and the monster bug-eyed.