The Unnamable

Film, 1988

This thing has so many bad 80’s horror movie affects you’d almost think it was on purpose; it’s got the requisite group of horny kids (the slut, the bro, the underdog… although one of them managed to carve just a hint of dimension out for himself as a rare bro/ nerd hybrid), some supernatural mumbo-jumbo (the filmmakers had the reckless lack of regard to slap Lovecraft’s name at the top of the title), acting you could iron a shirt on, a plot you could lose in a bowl of rice and the budget-friendly pacing decision of being totally fucking boring for the first 90% of the movie. When you finally do get to see the big monster though it’s, surprisingly, worth it. The thing is insane, a white-pancake nightmare on an actor who’s either an excellent performer or tweaking from withdrawal. The director’s bizarre decision to shoot the creature totally straight, fully lit and completely in frame, somehow adds to it. This is happening. We don’t need no color gels to make this look fucking weird. And in the end, all the likable protagonists (who were the only ones to survive, of course) walk off into the distance with a giggle, their sexually promiscuous friends’ deaths a distant memory of almost an hour ago.


Masters of Horror: John Landis: Deer Woman

Television, 2005

Because this was directed by John Landis and I really like American Werewolf in London and really like him in interview I tried to convince myself that there were flashes of a good movie here, but they became so completely obscured by stiff acting, slow editing and, yes, poor writing that it pretty quickly became indefensible.


Nightwish

Film, 1990

Totally functional bad 80’s horror movie, which is higher praise than it sounds. If you watch a lot of this stuff you know how little of it has a clear, coherent plot, fun characters played by enjoyably bad actors or cool, weird special effects. This one does. I’m not saying it doesn’t have it’s flaws, but if you’re looking for something like this to show to people who aren’t normally drawn to this type of material, this is one of the few selections you could make that wouldn’t bore them to tears. Plus, it’s got the actor who played the alien bounty hunter on The X-Files in a role that shows you why his character on that show was a mute.

Waxwork

Film, 1988

Anthony Hickox’s 80’s genre work has a special quality to it. It seems like everyone involved in the film was encouraged to bring as much character and life to it as they could, and the results always look like a gang of very creative pirates got together to make a fun movie. It makes you jealous- you wish you could have been there for the filming. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you always want to sit through the product of that process, as is the case here with Waxwork. There are a couple thrilling moments here and there, but mostly it just all feels tacked on and unsure of what it is. Skip straight to Waxwork II– it owns its humor, and has a more substantial list of great genre actors.

Grumpier Old Men

Film, 1995

I don’t find inherent humor in the idea that “old” people have personalities or interests, and I think it’s kind of sad that someone would expect me to. 1.5


House

Film, 1986

A good 80’s horror movie is supposed to be at least one of the following things: Funny, scary or weird. Most are none. This is the case with House. 1.5


Predators

Film, 2010

You’ve already seen Predators. Even if you haven’t seen Predators yet, you’ve already seen it. Even if you haven’t seen the original Predator, you’ve already seen Predators. You know what color it’s going to be, green. You know what type of characters are going to be in it, tough guys. You know they’re slowly going to die out one by one until only the protagonist and his love interest remain. I bet that thing that isn’t moving is only playing possum, it’ll jump up and scare everyone soon. And it does. There’s only one woman in it, so you know there’s going to be some tension tension between her and the lead male. And there is. Oop, here comes a mysterious new character, I wonder if someone is going to say “Who are you?” And they do. The Asian guy doesn’t have a katana at the beginning, but don’t worry. He gets one. (And, with wind reed musical accompaniment, has a sick sword duel with a Predator in tall grass!) What makes Predators’ complete lack of originality even harder to swallow is the fact that it’s a Predator movie. It’s a sequel to a franchise that has been dormant for twenty years, and this just feels like fan-fiction. I’m sure it’s comforting (to the studio’s accountants) to just give the people what they think they want, but you really have to update something like this. Make it, you know, better? Because I’ve never even seen a Predator movie (true story) and I feel like this is my second helping of the same dinner two days in a row. 2


The Haunting in Connecticut

Film, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut does nothing but bore as it dispassionately slams one modern horror cliche into another. It totally fails at it’s attempts at horror and character drama, but isn’t even close to being weird or exciting enough to be an entertaining bad horror movie. 1


Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare


Film, 1991

There’s so much potential in the concept and themes of the Nightmare on Elm Street series and while this installment seems aware of that, it does nothing but clumsily stumble around them. The characters are dumb and dumbly conceived, which is to be expected, but there aren’t any really great set pieces to drool over to make up for it. Ho-hum. 1


Moontrap

Film, 1989

Moontrap is a star vehicle for a guy (Koenig) who was a supporting actor on the 60’s Star Trek television series. It really seems like he might have had a hand in writing Moontrap (which is credited to the clearly fictitious “Tex Ragsdale”), as the insecurities his character faces seem to be a reflection of how you would imagine Koenig himself might feel about his own career. His character frequently comments on how he should’ve let someone younger take this mission, and that he “blew it”. But then, of course, he single handedly dispatches a half dozen killer moon robots and has inexplicable space sex with a foxy moon person. The truly outrageous part is how absolutely terrible Koenig’s acting is. You are really forced to wonder if he has any human emotions at all to use as frame of reference. All this sounds like it would add up to some great cheesy movie watching, and it passes as that… pretty much. The goods (monsters, Bruce Campbell) are delivered far too infrequently in favor of extended, glaringly inaccurate NASA procedural scenes and clumsy, ineptly written dialogue scenes with the astronauts. 1

Note to Bruce Campbell completists; This movie, in terms of Bruce content, is probably not worth the effort it takes to find. Campbell is present for much of the movie, but isn’t given many lines. He does go pretty wild during his death scene but when he is resurrected in monsterized form (pictured below), it only lasts for about five seconds. By in large, a pretty good waste of prime, vintage 80s Campbell.