Don't let the title of Howard R. Cohen's Saturday the 14th fool you. Despite being released in theaters after both Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981)Saturday the 14th has absolutely nothing to do with the iconic slasher franchise. Instead, it takes a satirical look at Hammer horror and Universal monsters, while also laying on a very thick layer of sight gags and jokes - that sometimes stick the landing. John Hyatt, the patriarch of the family, makes a sandwich - during a rather random moment in the movie - that consists of what looked like various deli meats, cheese, a tomato, and topped off with a bit of peanut butter. For any of our readers who may be interested in watching this movie after reading this retrospective, that sandwich is a lot like this movie. There are too many ideas, references, and jokes that don't mesh well together, except for when they do, and perhaps that is a matter of taste.

Saturday the 14th was written and directed by Howard R. Cohen and the story is from the mind of Jeff Begun. It stars Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Kari Michaelsen, Severn Darden, and Jeffrey Tambor. The movie opens quite strong, starting with two vampires who are looking to purchase a very dilapidated house when the real estate agent informs the couple that the former homeowner had already willed it to his nephew and his family. We get a funny scene of the family arriving to what they believe to be their big, beautiful, exciting new home only to realize it looks like something that not even The Munsters would want to live in. The cinematography and set design are absolutely impeccable, and the set and props creative team did a wonderful job of depicting the Victorian gothic style of Hammer films - especially on the first level of the house. This movie could definitely be featured in an episode of Elvira's Movie Macabre for sure.

Unfortunately, a lot of what happened after this scene is humor that is as subtle as a jackhammer, but it is not all bad. There are a few moments that really work in this movie. Shortly after the Hyatt's have settled in, Billy is in bed when he sees a monster in his room. He screams for his father to come and save him, and when John walks into the room, the monster hides behind his back, turning around as he turns around to stay out of sight. It is a cute moment that makes fun of how clueless the adults are in many horror movies. Billy even told his dad during this scene that his story about the monster wasn't believed because he's a child. For some reason, adults never believe their children until it's too late.

The Hyatt's had a family dog named Rover that disappeared soon after moving into the house. John made a remark about how Rover wouldn't go into the house and wondered where he had gone, but because my slasher heart wouldn't let go of the idea of this movie not being connected to Friday the 13th in any way, I kept hoping for a Muffin situation. In Friday the 13th: Part 2, you're made to think Muffin was killed only to find out that she survived in the end. Turns out that Rover wasn't dead and he just had more common sense and self-preservation than all humans in that family combined. There's also a funny joke that involves both a Jaws and a Creature from the Black Lagoon reference that was well executed. You can tell that Cohen and Begun are fans of the horror movies that they are parodying, but many of the jokes just don't land.

At the end of the 76-minute runtime, there are some jokes, practical effects, and costumes that really work, but the nods to horror films of yesteryear would play even better if the jokes hit on another level. However, as I mentioned in the introduction of this retrospective, John's sandwich filled with deli meats and peanut butter might just be your taste. And if so, you may also want to check out the movie's sequel, titled, Saturday the 14th Strikes Back.

  • Tamika Jones
    About the Author - Tamika Jones

    Tamika hails from North Beach, Maryland, a tiny town inches from the Chesapeake Bay.She knew she wanted to be an actor after reciting a soliloquy by Sojourner Truth in front of her entire fifth grade class. Since then, she's appeared in over 20 film and television projects. In addition to acting, Tamika is the Indie Spotlight manager for Daily Dead, where she brings readers news on independent horror projects every weekend.

    The first horror film Tamika watched was Child's Play. Being eight years old at the time, she remembers being so scared when Chucky came to life that she projectile vomited. It's tough for her to choose only one movie as her favorite horror film, so she picked two: Nosferatu and The Stepford Wives (1975).